Democrats repel GOP push to go bigger on pandemic aid plan

Here’s what’s happening on Day 24 of the 2021 session of the Washington Legislature.

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

2021 Washington Legislature, Day 24 of 105

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: | @dospueblos

Want this in your inbox Monday-Wednesday-Friday? Subscribe here.

OLYMPIA, Feb. 3, 2021 — A not-so-funny thing happened as a $2.2 billion federal aid package made its way through the state House this week. It got partisan. A weird kind of partisan in which Democrats sounded like Republicans and Republicans sounded like Democrats.

House Bill 1368 is the blueprint for spending those dollars to fight COVID, administer vaccines, help schools resume in-person learning and provide financial aid for renters, landlords, businesses, child care providers and families struggling to buy food and pay bills.

It passed on a 61-36 vote with just four Republicans joining Democrats to send it to the Senate. The Ways and Means Committee is expected to exec it, without changes, Thursday, with a floor vote Feb. 10.

House Republicans didn’t disagree with where the money is going. They wanted to spend more in most areas. A pandemic, they argued, is kind of an appropriate time for tapping the state’s nearly $2 billion Rainy Day Fund to boost assistance across the state.

Democrats said no. Not now. Spending state dollars will be done later as part of the regular budget process.

“This is not perfect. This is what we can do right now,” said Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, the Democrats’ lead budget writer. “There is more to come.”

Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, the ranking GOP member on the House budget committee, didn’t hide his disappointment. “We could have done so much more good,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the other Washington, Congress is at work on another COVID relief package. Democrats are going large and Republicans are pushing back.

“The risk of doing too little is far greater than the risk of doing too much,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told colleagues this week.

Risky business

Democrats looking to tax billionaires got a warning from the Department of Revenue that the idea might run afoul of state law.

House Bill 1406 would impose a 1% tax on the “taxable worldwide wealth” of that select group of Washington residents with “taxable worldwide wealth” over $1 billion. If enacted, it could bring in $5 billion for the 2023-25 budget.

It’s a hugely popular idea, judging by the number of people wishing to testify in favor of it at a hearing Tuesday. Probably not one that reaches the governor’s desk this year. Especially after the DOR’s fiscal note came out with this caution:

“There is some litigation risk that the courts would invalidate the wealth tax on the grounds that it is a property tax that conflicts” with provisions of the state Constitution.

Another caution in the analysis: If billionaires move out of state, you could wind up with a whole lot less.

Hacked off

Just how well protected is data collected and held by state agencies? That’s a question Republican lawmakers want answered after the potential theft of the personal information of 1.4 million residents who filed unemployment claims last year.

Republican Rep. Matt Boehnke, a cybersecurity consultant from Kennewick, told reporters that the state needs to reassess if it needs certain information like a person’s full Social Security number and, if so, how long it is held by the state.

Republican Sen. Ann Rivers of La Center said lawmakers must provide the state’s chief information officer resources needed to defend against outside attacks. She also noted the state needs to upgrade old systems “that are just ripe for the picking.”

Lawmakers, she said, must seriously consider where best to allocate resources to make sure that “we protect our citizens’ data as if it were to be kept in Fort Knox rather than in Mayberry RFD.”

To subscribe to the Cornfield Report, go to | Previous Cornfield Reports here.


News clippings

Compiled by: House Democrats | House Republicans



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.

TVW schedule | Current and recent video | Archives | Shows



Contact your legislator | District lookup | Bill lookup

Legislature home | House | Senate

Caucuses: House Democrats | House Republicans | Senate Democrats | Senate Republicans

Office of the Governor

Laws and agency rules

Beat reporters: Jerry Cornfield (Herald) | Rachel La Corte (AP) | Joseph O’Sullivan (Times) | Jim Brunner (Times) | Austin Jenkins (NW News Network) | Melissa Santos (Crosscut) | Sara Gentzler (McClatchy) | Jim Camden (Spokesman-Review)

Talk to us

More in Local News

Arlington woman dies in crash on Highway 530

The Washington State Patrol says a Stanwood man ran a red light, striking Zoey Ensey as she turned onto the highway.

FILE - This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. A leading doctor who chairs a World Health Organization expert group described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as "a random event" that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP, File)
Monkeypox case count rises to 6 in Snohomish County

Meanwhile, cases in the state have roughly doubled every week. Most of those have been in neighboring King County.

Farmer Frog employees sort through a pallet of lettuce at their new location on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At Farmer Frog’s new pad, nonprofit helps feed 1.5M Washingtonians

The emergency food distribution network began amid the pandemic. Demand was high — so high, the truck volume led them to move.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Snohomish County, cities announce $9.6M for mental health, shelter

Projects span from Edmonds to Sultan. Each city is using American Rescue Plan Act money, with the county contributing, too.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Suspect in custody after man’s gunshot death, standoff

Deputies responded to a domestic violence call and found the suspect barricaded on the property near Snohomish.

A view of the proposed alternative station location to Everett Station located east of the current BNSF rail tracks in downtown. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Could light rail station under Pacific Avenue and over railroad work?

A group representing people around Everett Station wants Sound Transit to study the idea.

Jon Elmgren, president of the Everett Rock Club, talks with two club members while out searching for olivine and other minerals on Saturday, July 22, 2022, along the Nooksack River near Deming, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett rockhounds dig in for shiny, rare, ‘ugly as sin’ treasure

This club has been around for 83 years. They’ll tell you what rocks their world — and how to identify “leaverite.”

State Representative Robert Sutherland, left, gives a thumbs-up to passing drivers as he and a few volunteers wave flags and campaign signs along the side of State Route 9 on July 22, in Lake Stevens. Sam Low, right, talks with seniors on July 20 in Lake Stevens. (Sutherland photo by Ryan Berry / The Herald, Low photo by Kevin Clark / The Herald)
In GOP battle of Sutherland vs. Low, Democrats may tip the scale

The state lawmaker and Snohomish County council member are vying for a House seat. Democrats make up roughly 40% of the vote.

Two students walk along a path through campus Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. The college’s youth-reengagement program has lost its funding, and around 150 students are now without the money they need to attend classes. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Monroe nixes college program, leaving 150-plus students in the lurch

For years, the Monroe School District footed the bill for “U3” students, who have gotten mixed messages about why that’s ending.

Most Read