A tax hike, a difficult compromise and a faulty Predict A Pen

It’s Day 82. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112

2023 Washington Legislature, Day 82 of 105

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com | @dospueblos

Want this in your inbox Monday-Wednesday-Friday? Subscribe here.

OLYMPIA, March 31, 2023 — Good afternoon. Welcome to the Friday edition. Baseball is back. And a new season of bill signing too.

Gov. Jay Inslee, a righty in his third term, carried out the task surrounded by legislators, lobbyists and individuals who played a role in getting each passed. This marked Inslee’s return to in-person signing after an extended time out for the pandemic.

Sen. John Lovick led off with a hit for Snohomish County. Legislation signed by Inslee adds a judge to the ever busy Snohomish County District Court.

Eleven bills later, Sen. Karen Keiser closed things with a home run for Washingtonians who rely on insulin. Her bill makes permanent the state’s $35 cap on out-of-pocket expenses for a 30-day supply of insulin.

Many bills will get signed and a few will be vetoed in the coming weeks. Keep track here.

A tax hike lurks

A bill to ditch the 1 percent cap on annual property tax increases isn’t dead. It might wind up in a go-bigger-so-lawmakers-can-go-home deal on housing.

House Bill 1670 would reset the cap at 3% for counties, cities and special purpose districts. A top priority for local governments, it is sitting in House Finance Committee waiting for the call-up. I thought, because it doesn’t affect state revenues, it lapsed earlier this month. I was wrong.

“It may very well be exempt from cut-off,” House Speaker Laurie Jinkins said this week.

Democrats are eyeing ways to put more dollars into housing than the sums in their proposed budgets. Inslee wants a $4 billion bond. House Democrats like redoing the real estate excise tax (REET) to fill state and local government coffers. Senate Democrats are watching, chatting and seeing what can pass.

Enter the levy lid lift. A provision in the REET bill lets counties and cities increase local taxes on real estate transactions and use the money for housing-related endeavors. Fiscally-challenged local governments seek money for law enforcement and human services. Given a choice, many would prefer the higher cap to additional REET dollars.

These are only bigger pieces of a puzzle that may be assembled in the final weeks.

A pen and its failed predictions

Meanwhile, Jinkins said she got a new Predict A Pen after her old one disappeared without a trace.

The acquisition looks to be a lemon.

“This Predict A Pen predicted the capital gains tax would be found unconstitutional. Twice,” she said. It was upheld.

I then put it to the test.

Me: “Will the bond proposal pass?”

Pen: “Dude, no way.”

Me: “Will the REET bill pass?”

Pen: “Not for a million dollars.”

Let’s see how things turn out.

This deal took time

A series of difficult conversations between House and Senate members this week resulted in an unusual compromise on a bill to celebrate the heritage of Washington’s Chinese-American community.

Senate Bill 5000, in its original form, was two paragraphs long. It designated January as “Americans of Chinese descent history month” and encouraged schools to “commemorate the contributions of Americans of Chinese descent to the history and heritage of Washington state and the United States.”

It hit a wall in the House where Asian-American members of the House Democratic Caucus have been passionately opposed. Some didn’t like the month. Some preferred using Chinese-American. Some had issues with some of the loudest backers with whom they had political disagreements.

On Wednesday, with cut-off looming, the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee took action. Rep. Bill Ramos, the chair, prepared three approaches, negotiated with the main players. And got a winner.

Option A designated January as “Chinese American history month.”

Option B made it the month to “commemorate the contributions of Chinese Americans and Americans of Chinese descent to the history and heritage of Washington state.”

Winning Option C designated January as “Chinese American/Americans of Chinese descent history month.”

Along the way, there was plenty of commentary on the rationale behind Americans of Chinese descent and Chinese-American. Committee members felt inclusion of both recognized all opinions had merit.

“I am happy to see the bill moving forward after three years of working on a simple well-meaning and long overdue policy,” Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro Woolley, said Thursday evening, leaving little space between the lines to read.

The House is expected to pass the bill.

To subscribe to the Cornfield Report, go to www.heraldnet.com/newsletters. | Previous Cornfield Reports here.

News clippings

Compiled by: House Democrats | House Republicans


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.

TVW schedule | Current and recent video | Shows


Contact your legislator | District lookup | Bill lookup

Legislature home | House | Senate

Caucuses: House Democrats | House Republicans | Senate Democrats | Senate Republicans

Office of the Governor

Laws and agency rules

Beat reporters: Jerry Cornfield (Everett Herald) | Tom Banse (NW News Network) | Jim Brunner (Seattle Times) | Laurel Demkovich (Spokesman-Review) | Jeanie Linsday (KUOW)| Joseph O’Sullivan (Crosscut) | Melissa Santos (Axios) | Shauna Sowersby (McClatchy newspapers) | Claire Withycombe (Times)

Talk to us

More in Local News

Marysville firefighters respond to a 12-year-old boy who fell down a well Tuesday May 30, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Photo provided by Marysville Fire District)
Marysville firefighters save boy who fell 20 feet into well

The 12-year-old child held himself up by grabbing on to a plastic pipe while firefighters worked to save him.

Highway 9 is set to be closed in both directions for a week as construction crews build a roundabout at the intersection with Vernon Road. (Washington State Department of Transportation)
Weeklong closure coming to Highway 9 section in Lake Stevens

Travelers should expect delays or find another way from Friday to Thursday between Highway 204 and Lundeen Parkway.

Students arriving off the bus get in line to score some waffles during a free pancake and waffle breakfast at Lowell Elementary School on Friday, May 26, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
800 free pancakes at Everett’s Lowell Elementary feed the masses

The annual breakfast was started to connect the community and the school, as well as to get people to interact.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring speaks at the groundbreaking event for the I-5/SR 529 Interchange project on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$123M project starting on Highway 529 interchange, I-5 HOV lane

A reader wondered why the highway had a lane closure despite not seeing work done. Crews were waiting on the weather.

Justin Bell was convicted earlier this month of first-degree assault for a December 2017 shooting outside a Value Village in Everett. (Caleb Hutton / Herald file)
Court: Snohomish County jurors’ opaque masks didn’t taint verdict

During the pandemic, Justin Bell, 32, went on trial for a shooting. Bell claims his right to an impartial jury was violated.

Gary Fontes uprights a tree that fell over in front of The Fontes Manor — a miniature handmade bed and breakfast — on Friday, May 12, 2023, at his home near Silver Lake in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett’s mini-Frank Lloyd Wright builds neighborhood of extra tiny homes

A tiny lighthouse, a spooky mansion and more: Gary Fontes’ miniature world of architectural wonders is one-twelfth the size of real life.

Will Steffener
Inslee appoints Steffener as Superior Court judge

Attorney Will Steffener will replace Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Janice Ellis, who is retiring in June.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Lawsuit: Defective inhaler led to death of Mountlake Terrace man

Pharmaceutical company Perrigo recalled inhalers in September 2020. Months earlier, Antonio Fritz Sr. picked one up at a pharmacy.

Steven Eggers listens during his resentencing at Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, May 31, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Life in prison reduced to 38 years for 1995 Skykomish River killing

Steven Eggers, now 46, was 19 when he murdered Blair Scott, 27. New court rulings granted him a second chance at freedom.

Most Read