COVID bills to be signed, Eyman’s fate to be decided

Here’s what’s happening on Day 29 of the 2021 session of the Washington Legislature.

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

2021 Washington Legislature, Day 29 of 105

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

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OLYMPIA, Feb. 8, 2021 — Good morning.

This week will bring enactment of pandemic relief bills and a ruling on the state’s nearly four-year legal battle with Tim Eyman.

Several COVID-19-related pieces of legislation are on, or will reach, the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee for signing, including:

House Bill 1368, allotting $2.2 billion in federal dollars to bolster the state’s fight against the coronavirus, reopen shuttered schools and businesses, assist renters, provide food to low-income families and aid struggling undocumented immigrants. It awaits final action in the Senate on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 5061, preventing a huge spike in unemployment insurance taxes on businesses this year and increasing the size of weekly jobless benefit checks this summer.

House Bill 1095, exempting businesses from having to pay taxes on grants or funds they received as assistance in response to the pandemic. It is slated for a vote in the Senate on Wednesday.

Legislation to waive some graduation requirements for this year’s high school seniors is on track to reach the governor soon, as well.

Verdict is in

Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon is to deliver his decision in the case of the State of Washington v. Tim Eyman at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

I hear he’s set aside two hours. That is a lot of time. Then again, this has been a marathon legal proceeding, with Dixon on the bench throughout. He’s been a resolutely patient jurist. He’s earned the time to vent.

The state, in a lawsuit filed in 2017, accuses Eyman of illegally moving funds between two initiative campaigns in 2012, getting a $308,000 kickback from a signature-gathering vendor and failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars he received as gifts from friends as political contributions since they funded his ongoing activism.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson is seeking $2.6 million in damages, though he wants it trebled to $7.8 million. And he’s asked to permanently bar Eyman from having any role in financial transactions of any political committees and to make the Bellevue anti-tax activist register himself as a political committee.

Eyman denies doing anything that ran afoul of the law.

On the docket

• A bill increasing penalties for harassing election officials gets a hearing at 9:30 a.m. today before the Senate Law and Justice Committee. If you recall, Secretary of State Kim Wyman and the state elections director were targeted online after the November election.

• Home-grows and a clean fuel standard are on the agenda of the House Appropriations Committee at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

First, there’s a public hearing on House Bill 1019, allowing folks to grow a few marijuana plants at home. It’s garnering a little more political steam than in previous sessions, but law enforcement folks are still not fans.

Later, the committee will look to advance House Bill 1091, creating a low carbon fuel standard. This is one of Inslee’s top agenda items. It keeps getting out of the House and stalling in the Senate.

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