2023 Washington Legislature, Day 96 of 105
Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: firstname.lastname@example.org | @dospueblos
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OLYMPIA, April 14, 2023 — Welcome to the Friday edition. Can you see it? There, on the horizon, through the fog and clouds.
Exactly when it will arrive hinges on getting a deal done on the operating budget. Negotiating squads for the House and Senate Democrats are already engaged in talks.
Rep. Timm Ormsby, who’s heading up the House team, said Thursday he expects a finished product to reach the bar (where it must sit for 24 hours) on Saturday. Next Saturday. As in the day before scheduled adjournment.
REET, it’s alive
This morning the House Finance Committee approved the latest iteration of House Bill 1628 to rejigger the state’s real estate excise tax AKA The REET. This one is a little leaner than the original.
Democratic Rep. Larry Springer said the goal of the bill “has always been to generate about $200 million a year” for the state to help address housing needs. This would do that starting in the 2025-27 biennium.
Cities and counties could start cashing in sooner under provisions allowing them to boost their respective local REET on Jan. 1, 2024.
Springer said this bill is not a done deal. It gives House Democrats something to put on the table for budget writers as they work to put as much as $1 billion in new money toward housing — a target sought by Gov. Jay Inslee.
“I am under no illusion that this is the final solution,” Springer said in committee.
Assault weapons ban: Do Not Concur
Washington will soon join a handful of states outlawing sales of many models of semiautomatic rifles. House Democrats want it to happen after Senate Democrats undo some of its work.
Democratic Rep. Strom Peterson, sponsor of House Bill 1240, said the House won’t concur. They’re not sure either of the amendments added by the Senate are needed. That’s a conversation to be had before it goes to the governor.
Blake: A fix or a punt
Dealing with the Blake decision seemed a certainty when the session began. Not quite as much now.
House Democrats altered the landscape. What they passed early Wednesday won’t get through the Senate. A conference committee will try to sort things out with a heavy focus on differences surrounding penalties for drug possession violations.
It’s a big gap. Some worry it may be too wide to bridge.
The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs said Thursday it “would prefer the Legislature take no action rather than see the House amendments enacted. The House bill preempts local ordinances, which prevent local governments from providing leadership to address the crime happening in their communities. Adopting the misdemeanor consequence in the House bill, combined with preemption, means the Washington Legislature is choosing to do nothing and requires local governments do the same.”
That view is not universally held by law-and-order types.
“It’s imperative that the Legislature come to an agreement on the Blake response before they adjourn next week. Our communities simply cannot continue to live with the current situation,” reads a statement from the Washington Fraternal Order of Police.
Peter won’t back down
Quite a row underway between the press and political forces in Minneapolis. In the middle is the MinnPost’s Peter Callaghan, who spent parts of four decades reporting on the powers-that-be in Olympia for the Everett Herald and Tacoma News-Tribune.
Callaghan made what’s been described as a “perhaps less than deferential” comment at a February news conference. It didn’t land well with those in the majority House DFL (Democratic-Farmer-Labor) caucus to which it was directed. They responded by going nuclear.
A coalition of media organizations sent this letter to caucus leaders this week. It is a recap. It reminds those in power that uncomfortable questions at news conferences should be expected. Grin and bear it.
A good message for those around here too. Especially in the final days of the legislative session.
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