Between budget talks and coronavirus fear, it’s getting real

Day 50 of 60 of the 2020 session of the Washington Legislature in Olympia.

2020 Washington Legislature, Day 50 of 60

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: | @dospueblos

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OLYMPIA, March 2, 2020 — Welcome to Monday and the start of the penultimate week of the 2020 session.

Budget writers can look forward to some late nights as they iron out wrinkles in supplemental spending plans passed by the House and Senate.

And negotiations will get serious on policy matters on which Democrats in the two chambers are divided.

There’s data privacy, with the question of enforcement a sticking point. Gov. Jay Inslee and House Democrats are pushing for a low carbon fuel standard bill and/or expanded clean air authority, but a small band of moderate Senate Democrats aren’t on board. And Boeing’s request for a tax hike is a subject of discussion as some Democrats want to extract a few ounces of financial flesh from the aerospace giant.

• Today’s big event: Speaking of a low carbon fuel standard, every seat will be filled when the Senate Transportation Committee takes up the subject at its 1:30 p.m. meeting. Sen. Steve Hobbs will hold a hearing on House Bill 1110, the clean fuels bill. He’s no fan, and he’s not planned a committee vote.

Given the stakes, the bill is almost certainly part of the end-game.

Coronavirus watch: At 3 p.m. today, Inslee will hold a news conference on the situation surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak in the state. As of this morning, two people have died in Washington from the illness.

Inslee on Saturday issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency in response to new cases. Meanwhile, there are millions of dollars pledged in the House and Senate supplemental budgets for covering costs incurred by state agencies and local health districts. The total is $5 million in the House and $13 million in the Senate — $10 million for the health emergency and $3 million to assist businesses suffering from the downturn in international trade during the outbreak.

• And then there were six, sort of. The departures of Tom Steyer and Pete Buttigieg from the race for the White House leaves five candidates actively competing for votes in Washington’s March 10 presidential primary — Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Mike Bloomberg, Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar. Tulsi Gabbard is apparently still in the race, too. That’s out of 13 names on the ballot. With Super Tuesday looming tomorrow, Democrats might want to hold onto their ballots a little longer to see if the field narrows any further.

What we’re writing and reading

• How the coronavirus outbreak will change our daily lives is a question explored by Deborah Netburn of the Los Angeles Times.

• The House, in an upbeat display of bipartisanship, passed a supplemental transportation budget, writes Jim Camden of the Spokesman-Review.

• The Legislature should take Boeing’s deal and honor its own, opines the Seattle Times Editorial Board.

• Bye, bye, Mayor Pete. NPR reporters Barbara Sprunt, Benjamin Swasey and Sam Gringlas covered the breaking news of the former mayor’s exit from the competition to be the Democratic Party nominee for president.

What’s happening

• It’s cutoff day for the fiscal committees. Legislation with financial impacts, other than budgets, are supposed to be advanced by 5 p.m. or set down for the session.

• At 8 a.m. the House Finance Committee will consider advancing bills to allow King County to impose a tax on big businesses and to establish a statewide ban on plastic bags.

• At 10 a.m., the Senate Ways and Means Committee will begin a marathon meeting. It plans votes on at least 84 bills. The House Appropriations Committee meets at 1:30 p.m. Its agenda for an executive session had 41 bills, as of Sunday night.

Republican leaders of the House and Senate will meet with reporters at noon. TVW will stream live.

Here is today’s lineup of committee hearings.

Legislative agendas, schedules and calendars


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