Credit scores, Phase 3 and a GOP call to take down the fence

Here’s what’s happening on Day 36 of the 2021 session of the Washington Legislature.

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2021 Washington Legislature, Day 36 of 105

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

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OLYMPIA, Feb. 15, 2021 — Good morning. It’s policy bill cut-off day, the session’s first important deadline.

One bill getting closely watched would bar insurers from using credit scores in rate-setting. Senate Bill 5010 is sitting in the Senate Business, Financial Services and Trade Committee, where its chairman, Sen. Mark Mullett, a moderate Issaquah Democrat, is not a huge fan.

Mullett is expected to put forth a substitute with some notable changes from the original bill pushed by the governor and the state insurance commissioner. It had not been posted online by Sunday. The committee meets at 9 a.m. Look for the sub here.

Stuck in second gear

Nearly all Washington counties are now in Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening and recovery plan. What is in Phase 3 and how counties get there continues to be a mystery. Inslee didn’t have an answer when asked last month or last week. Maybe he will provide one with the next update in the state’s reopening efforts.

Under the current approach and metrics, counties in Phase 2 can go backward but not forward. Inslee and his team will likely need to tweak the metrics to open a path to the next stage. Don’t be surprised if there’s an integer tied to vaccinations added to the equation.

Take down the fence

Leaders of the House and Senate Republican caucuses want the chain link fence surrounding the state Capitol taken down. They’d like crowds to be allowed to hold rallies on the steps again. On Feb. 11, they put their request in writing to Inslee and their Democratic counterparts.

Fencing went up and security was boosted after the deadly Jan. 6 siege on the nation’s Capitol. That same day, protesters, some armed and all backers of former Republican President Donald Trump, broke through a gate and pushed past a state trooper to reach the front porch of Inslee’s residence before retreating.

Inslee and Democratic leaders say they’ll be ready to see the fence go when law enforcement say it is safe to do so.

With some Republican state lawmakers still insisting Trump won and that he bore no responsibility for the events of Jan. 6, it may not be right away.

A hero bill?

Legislation creating a program to provide unemployment benefits to undocumented workers will get a public hearing this morning.

Under Senate Bill 5438, an undocumented worker would be eligible to receive $400 for each week of unemployment between Jan 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, if they received any state benefits or federal pandemic insurance aid. This program would be run by the Department of Labor and Industries, not the Employment Security Department.

The Senate Labor, Commerce, and Tribal Affairs Committee will hold the hearing at 8:30 a.m.

Chances of this bill moving would seem slim. It is cut-off day. If it is not voted out of the committee, it should be dead.

But because Democrats control both chambers, caucus leaders can keep legislative hopes alive as they see fit. Their caucuses want to ensure undocumented workers don’t fall through the social safety net during the pandemic. File this one under “stay tuned.”

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