2022 Washington Legislature, Day 26 of 60
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OLYMPIA, Feb. 4 — Happy Friday.
In this edition we’ve got an update, a sequel, a fix and a prediction.
Dialing back crowd controls
More senators can take part in floor sessions in person starting Monday.
This morning, the Senate Facilities and Operations Committee voted unanimously to double the number of senators allowed on the floor, citing signs that the recent surge of COVID cases is easing.
Now, the max is 15 people — eight Democrats and seven Republicans. On Monday, it will be 30 — 16 Democrats and 14 Republicans.
Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig called it a “safe and reasonable step” toward a return to full in-person operations. Senate Minority Leader John Braun said he thinks it is a little “overcautious” but nonetheless pleased more people will be able to get involved.
Republicans also want to be able to remove their masks while speaking on the floor. That didn’t get resolved today. Maybe when the panel meets again in two weeks.
‘Credit Score Wars II — Return of Kreidler’
This sequel to the 2021 thriller finds state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler in another pitched battle with insurers, trying valiantly to end their use of credit scores in rate-setting for home, auto and renter’s policies.
And, as before, lawmakers are content to let them fight it out.
Kreidler on Tuesday ordered a ban on credit score use starting March 4. It will remain in effect until three years after the pandemic state of emergency is declared over, by either the president or the governor, whichever is later.
The American Property Casualty Insurance Association and others trade groups responded Thursday by filing legal actions to prevent its enforcement.
In the original “movie,” Kreidler used an emergency rule to get a ban briefly in place before insurers got a judge to toss it out. This time, the commish crafted his rule through a lengthy public process to better withstand a legal challenge. We’ll see.
Meanwhile, lawmakers could outlaw the rate-setting tool with legislation. But they’re too divided. This week, a bill forming a task force to discuss the subject — under the guidance of a professional mediator — died in committee.
They didn’t mess with Moxee
The political maps drawn by the Redistricting Commission split the town of Moxee between two legislative districts. In Wednesday’s Cornfield Report, I noted that county auditors suggested lawmakers move a bunch of people around in order to get the community in the same district.
I wrote that it looked like lawmakers intended to make the change. But they didn’t. It was one of a handful of recommendations Democratic and Republican leaders decided not to do.
This resolution contains the tweaks the Legislature is making ahead of a Tuesday deadline for action.
The new and soon-to-be-final boundaries are now posted on the Redistricting Commission website.
Carnac vs. The Speaker’s Pen
For tough yes-or-no questions, House Speaker Laurie Jinkins picks up the Predict A Pen and gives it a shake.
This is no ordinary writing instrument. It offers a response to queries much like 0ne of those magic toy 8-balls.
This week, I posed a question for the pen.
Q: “Will Gov. Jay Inslee complete his full-term?”
A: “If you’re lucky.”
Have a nice weekend.
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.
Beat reporters: Jerry Cornfield (Herald) | Rachel La Corte (AP) | Joseph O’Sullivan (Times) | Jim Brunner (Times) | Austin Jenkins (NW News Network) | Melissa Santos (Crosscut) | Shauna Sowersby (McClatchy newspapers) | Laurel Demkovich (Spokesman-Review)