2020 Washington Legislature, Day 53 of 60
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OLYMPIA, Match 5, 2020 — Good morning. Is the House still debating the sex education bill?
Democrats brought Senate Bill 5395 to the floor around 8 p.m. Wednesday. It had just north of 200 amendments. I ran out of popcorn a little before midnight and they were still at it.
It passed on a partisan 56-40 vote. The News-Tribune’s James Drew tweeted the final vote occurred at 2:05 a.m., after the bars had closed. However, changes were made in the bill during its journey through the House, so it must go back to the Senate for consideration.
• The Senate had its own spirited debates Wednesday. One preceded a 36-10 vote on a bill exempting the dates of birth of public employees from public disclosure, except to members of the media.
• Republican senators succeeded in delaying, at least temporarily, final action on legislation which would allow the Tulalip Tribes to keep a share of sales tax receipts collected by Quil Ceda Village businesses. Senators challenged the correctness of the title, and a ruling was not made Wednesday. GOP senators also tried, and failed, to tack on a slew of amendments, including one to bar tribes from making political contributions to a gubernatorial candidate if they are in the process of negotiating a compact with the state.
• Rep. Norma Smith, who has spent 13 years representing the 10th Legislative District, announced Wednesday she will not seek re-election.
• The coronavirus death toll in Washington reached 10 on Wednesday.
— Vice President Mike Pence is to visit Washington today to learn first hand about the state’s response to the outbreak. He’ll be at the state Emergency Operations Center this afternoon. He and Gov. Jay Inslee plan a joint news conference at 5 p.m.
— Congress, meanwhile, did reach agreement on freeing up $8.3 billion in federal funds for coping with the outbreak across the nation. Here’s a good summary of the different pots of money in the bill.
— King County is buying a motel in Kent to provide a place to isolate patients infected with COVID-19 during their recovery.
— The Senate, on a 47-0 vote Wednesday evening, approved a measure providing $100 million in emergency funding to cover costs incurred by state agencies and local health districts in responding to the outbreak. Senators amended House Bill 2965 to ensure residents can, if necessary, access unemployment benefits if they are under quarantine or isolation during the outbreak.
As a result of the changes, the bill will go back to the House for a final vote before heading to the governor for signing.
— All schools in the Northshore School District will be closed Thursday, and the closure could last up to 14 days, reports Andrea Brown of The Herald.
— And lastly, medical pros use this checklist to decide whether to test someone for COVID-19. Take a look — it might be useful for prospective patients.
• Leaders of Washington’s Democratic Party won’t be declaring any winners in Tuesday’s primary. That’s because many ballots will not have been counted by Tuesday, and the outcome could change. Wednesday evening, party officials emailed news outlets urging reporters to tread lightly for that reason.
“If your outlet desires to ‘call’ the primary for a specific candidate,” they said, “we urge you to be careful about the language you use to avoid giving your audience a false impression that the determination is being made on any basis aside from the statewide popular vote as reported by the Secretary of State on Election Night.”
What we’re writing and reading
• A 10th death, a federal probe and other developments related to the coronavirus outbreak as reported by Gene Johnson, Rachel La Corte and Martha Belisle of The Associated Press.
• A few big tussles await lawmakers in the final days of the session. In this week’s column, I touch on four, including the governor’s authority under the Clean Air Rule and the repeal of a Boeing tax break.
• Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant is pushing ahead on the idea of taxing big businesses such as Amazon amid signs state lawmakers aren’t going to act on such a proposal, writes Daniel Beekman of The Seattle Times.
• The House and Senate will have another long day, and night, of floor action. They will get under way around 9 a.m.
• At 10:30 a.m., Inslee will hold a previously scheduled media availability. It will be carried by TVW.
Non-profit TVW covers state government in Olympia and selected events statewide. Programs are available for replay on the internet, and the channel is widely available on Washington cable systems.
Beat reporters: Jerry Cornfield (Herald) | Rachel La Corte (AP) | Joseph O’Sullivan (Times) | Jim Brunner (Times) | Melissa Santos (Crosscut) | Jim Camden (Spokesman-Review) | Austin Jenkins (NW News Network) | James Drew (News Tribune)