2020 Washington Legislature, Day 22 of 60
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OLYMPIA, Feb. 3, 2020 — Good morning.
Today there will be caucuses in Iowa, closing arguments in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump and continuing Super Bowl victory celebrations in Kansas City, Missouri. (Not Kansas, as the nation’s commander-in-chief tweeted.)
At the Capitol here, lawmakers will be focusing on the legislative session’s first important deadline. Friday is the cutoff for getting a policy bill out of committee. Those that don’t make it out by 5 p.m. Feb. 7 are pretty much done for the session. I say pretty much because around here no legislation is truly dead until Sine Die. Expect lots of hearings, after which their respective authors will be lobbying to get them voted on.
• A mandate for a comprehensive sexual health education curriculum in public schools could be voted out of the House Education Committee today. This would be a big deal because that panel did not vote on a sex-ed bill a year ago. In the meantime, the Democrat-controlled Senate passed a similar bill last month.
• Meanwhile, down the hall, the House environment panel will be hearing Gov. Jay Inslee request legislation to revise and expand provisions of his proposed Clean Air Rule.
• That revamped business tax to fund the state’s promise of college financial aid to thousands of students is on a fast-track. It passed the Senate last week and will get a hearing at 11 a.m. in the House Finance Committee. This new tax will replace the surcharge created last year that is, at least for the moment, in effect. Supporters are trying to get the fix to Inslee for his signature by Feb. 10 to avoid a bookkeeping mess.
• Bills to phase out elections in odd-numbered years and to move the state’s non-presidential primary to May stalled last Friday. Each had been in line for action in committees, but neither was voted on.
What we’re writing and reading
• How to help people with mental illness who refuse care? Republican Sen. Steve O’Ban has a plan, reports James Drew of The News Tribune in Tacoma.
• Should diaper purchases be exempt from sales tax? They would be under legislation pushed by an Everett lawmaker, writes Daisy Zavala of the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
• ICYMI: The state Senate has voted for the third time in three years to repeal Washington’s death penalty law. Now it goes to the House, where supporters are hoping the chamber’s new Democratic leadership will act, writes AP’s Rachel La Corte.
• It’s Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day. Several hundred folks will be here for a noon rally on the Capitol steps. From there, some will likely head to the Senate Housing Stability & Affordability Committee for hearings at 1:30 p.m. on proposals to provide incentives for shared housing and affordable housing.
• Budget nerds will be interested in this: A bill to do away with the state’s spending limit and to impose new four-year balanced-budget requirements will be in front of the Senate Ways and Means Committee today. The Democratic chairwoman and ranking Republican are the authors.
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) | Melissa Santos (Crosscut) | Jim Camden (Spokesman-Review) | Austin Jenkins (NW News Network) | James Drew (News Tribune)