Bipartisan support to allocate $100 million for COVID-19

Day 51 of 60 of the 2020 session of the Washington Legislature in Olympia.

Bipartisan support to allocate $100 million for COVID-19

2020 Washington Legislature, Day 51 of 60

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

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OLYMPIA, March 3, 2020 — Nine days. That’s all that’s left in the 2020 session.

There’s much to do.

In the next four days, representatives and senators will be camped for hours on the House and Senate floors as they vote on dozens of bills, most of which will eventually become law.

• On Monday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee met for close to 13 hours (minus a meal or so) as they discussed and voted on darn near 100 bills. They adjourned shortly before 11 p.m. after advancing legislation for new restrictions on sales of vapor products. The amended version of Senate Bill 6254 includes a ban on the sale of disposable vapor products and a prohibition of online sales of flavored vapor products.

• What’s the emergency? That question came up when the same Senate panel considered a bill allowing sports betting at tribal casinos. Seems the House added an emergency clause and two Republican senators, John Braun and Ann Rivers, wanted to amend it out. The Democrat-controlled committee voted it down. If the bill becomes law with the clause, voters will be blocked from trying to overturn it.

Coronavirus watch: It is and will continue to get worse. On Monday, we learned the death toll had risen to six in Washington as Gov. Jay Inslee called on state lawmakers to provide $100 million in the supplemental budget to cover the costs of state agencies and local health districts responding to COVID-19.

Sen. Steve O’Ban dropped a bill to get the $100 million out of the Rainy Day Fund. Rep. Eileen Cody introduced legislation to withdraw $50 million from the emergency reserves. There’s strong bipartisan support to act swiftly.

“It is my goal to avoid this being a partisan, nasty debate about doing the right thing,” said Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler. “I am not going to argue about the amount of money we spend to protect public safety and keep commerce going in this state.”

Meaanwhile, in the other Washington, the U.S. Senate health committee will hold a hearing on the federal response early Tuesday. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the ranking Democrat on the panel, is preparing some tough questions for those in charge of the effort.


What we’re writing and reading

• The reality that novel coronavirus is frightening, deadly and lurking at the front door was evident Monday in the empty parking lots at Mariner and Henry M. Jackson high schools in Snohomish County, report Andrea Brown, Ben Watanabe and Eric Stevick of The Herald.

• Coronavirus is affecting pretty much everyone’s way of life in some fashion. Seattle Times reporters Paige Cornwell and Gina Cole pulled together a collection of stories on Monday.

• One Democratic presidential candidate who is still competing is Michael Bloomberg. Rebecca R. Ruiz and Jeremy W. Peters of The New York Times write about how his organization is like no other in politics.


What’s happening

• It’s Super Tuesday and voters in 15 states cast ballots in presidential primaries. It’s not as super as it could be, since three Democratic candidates dropped out in the last four days.

•The floor marathon begins: The Senate convenes at 9 a.m. and the House convenes at 10 a.m. There will be periods of voting broken up by caucus breaks. This pattern should persist through Friday, which is the cutoff for action on bills passed by the opposite chamber, except matters necessary to implement the budget.

• At 10 a.m., Informed Parents of Washington will hold a rally on the steps of the Capitol against passage of a comprehensive sex ed bill.

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