With less than 2 weeks to go, time for compromise in Olympia

Here’s what’s happening on Day 47 of the 2022 session of the Washington Legislature.

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2022 Washington Legislature, Day 47 of 60

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

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OLYMPIA, Feb. 25 — It’s Friday.

We begin with a rare act in politics — an apology.

Democratic Sen. Marko Liias of Everett sent one to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Thursday night, hours after he dissed her in a radio interview.

“I lost my temper … and made some intemperate and disrespectful remarks,” he wrote.

Brown is outspoken in her dislike 0f the fuel export tax in Washington Democrats’ $16 billion transportation package. Liias, an author of that package, showered her position with contempt on the air.

“The fact that she dares say a word is just a joke,” he told John Carlson on KVI radio. (Hat tip to @OlympiaWatch for the heads up.)

Washington residents who work in Oregon pay that state’s income tax, which adds up to $300 million a year, Liias said.

“Her state basically lives off Washington state residents,” he said. “This governor down in Oregon is living in fantasyland. She is in the last few months of her term. She is losing relevance.”

Regret set in as quickly as the comments spread on social media.

“It is too easy in politics to get upset and say unkind things, and much too difficult to express regret,” Liias wrote. “Governor Brown has been a wonderful partner with Washington on so many issues, I am sorry my words clouded that proud record.

“Moving forward, I plan to stick to the merits of our transportation proposal and leave the interstate dimensions to cooler heads and wiser voices,” he concluded. Liias later apologized on the floor of the Senate, too.

Let’s make a deal

With 13 days to go in the legislative session, deal-making is under way.

As each chamber passes its budget, the wrinkles to be ironed out become clearer.

For example, House Democrats have a sales tax holiday and a low-interest student loan program in theirs. Collective cost is nearly $500 million. Senate Democrats have free entry into state parks and state fairs for one year, and more dollars for public schools.

There are issues to resolve in a few policy bills, too.

And House Ds face a big decision on a bill to ban the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines. They want it, but is it worth the fight? A floor debate could last hours, maybe span parts of several days, if Republicans file dozens of amendments, as before — 120 in 2020 — and filibuster each one. An investment of that time could mean other bills don’t get voted on.

Freebie time

Senate Democrats won’t cut the sales tax this year.

They do want to let everyone into state parks for free. County and state fairs, too. For one year.

Starting July 1, an annual Discover Pass, which costs $30, must be provided free of charge from wherever you can get one now.

Similarly, fairs that do not charge an admission fee “to any member of the public” can get state funds to cover the lost income.

Those are two of 55 amendments to the proposed supplemental budget adopted by the Senate Ways and Means Committee. That budget was teed up for a vote today.

Here are some more:

• $200,000 to “a Tacoma-based automotive museum” to offset revenue losses due to the pandemic. Gotta be LeMay America’s Car Museum, right?

• $2 million for a public awareness campaign on the “dangers caused by methamphetamine and fentanyl.”

• $167 million increase to public school funding for salaries and supplies due to inflation. They had budgeted for a 2.8% inflation rate and it turned out to be 4.7%.

• $400 million for information technology is shifted out of the current budget and into the next. This will free up money to pay for the amendments, and maybe making deals with the House.

Getting it right

Starting today, up to six members of the public will be able to watch the state Senate from a seat in the chamber’s north gallery. I said 12 in the last report. Sorry about that.

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