Duerr gets dinged, deals get done and the guv gets ghosted

It’s Day 89. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

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

2023 Washington Legislature, Day 89 of 105

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

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OLYMPIA, April 7, 2023 — It’s Friday. Looks like lawmakers will work hard today to avoid laboring through the weekend.

Let’s begin with a tale involving Democratic Rep. Davina Duerr that got her in hot water and people talking about it.

She set out Tuesday to learn why one of her bills was stalled in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

The manner of her visit caused the stir. And resulted in Duerr losing a perk — use of her legislative key card to access Senate offices and the Senate chamber — for the rest of the session. She’ll need an appointment or an assist from security to get in, like the rest of us.

What happened?

When the committee voted on House Bill 1167 Monday, the chair announced it had passed “subject to signatures.”

In Senatespeak, that means it’s not a done deal until enough committee members sign ‘yes’ on a vote sheet attached to a clipboard. By Tuesday morning, not enough folks had yet to sign, putting the bill’s future in doubt.

The clipboard for each bill is public. You can ask a staff member to see them and you can figure out which lawmaker to remind.

Duerr wanted to find out. When she and House staff members got to the office where the boards are kept, no one was there. They knew where to look so they went in. The Senate employee returned to find them looking through the drawers.

“I apologized profusely,” Duerr said. “I wasn’t rifling through. We knew exactly where the boards were. There was nothing nefarious.”

She understood the boards to be public but “I didn’t know the protocol. I probably had an error in judgment.”

Secretary of Senate Sarah Bannister did too and ordered Duerr’s key card be turned off within Senate-controlled facilities. That’s the penalty for entering someone’s office when they’re not there, and going through the drawers.

It could end here. Or it could jeopardize the bill which deals with rules for building accessory dwelling units and passed 95-0 in the House.

“It would be sad that if a bill that was supposed to help the entire state of Washington died because of an honest mistake,” Duerr said.

Deal Dash

Senate Bill 5236 creating a new playbook for writing and enforcing hospital staffing plans passed the House on Thursday and will now go to the governor for signing. It requires administrators and nurses of a hospital to decide levels of staffing in patient care units, and how workers will be assured of getting proper rest and meal breaks. If hospitals don’t comply, they could be fined.

Plenty of smiles with this compromise given the deep bitterness and wide chasm between nurses and hospital officials on this subject last session.

Senate Bill 5000 designating January as “Chinese American/Americans of Chinese descent history month” sailed through the House on 94-2 vote Thursday. Because it got amended — the original bill referenced Americans of Chinese descent — the Senate must agree to the changes. It will.

Democratic Reps. Sharon Tomiko Santos, who represents Seattle’s Chinatown-International District and had a bill for Chinese-American history month, and Cindy Ryu, a Korean-American, dissented.

The case for hoarding

We learned this week how creative the state can be in protecting access to abortion care services.

Gov. Jay Inslee revealed the state had stockpiled a three-year supply of the abortion pill mifepristone, assuring access to the most common method of terminating pregnancy in Washington as a Texas judge will soon decide whether to halt distribution of the medication nationwide.

Inslee had the Department of Corrections use its pharmacy license to buy 30,000 doses. But a new law is needed so the agency can actually sell the medication, at cost plus a $5 per dose administrative fee, to abortion providers wishing to stock up.

Senate Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on Senate Bill 5768 at 12:30 p.m. It will be voted out Wednesday and possibly voted off the Senate floor the same day.

A no-show of appreciation

Popped in to watch Inslee sign a stack of bills Thursday.

With most, a lawmaker or two, a couple of their constituents and maybe a lobbyist huddle around the governor in what seems more ceremony than serious, and a chance to get a photo with the state’s chief executive.

I didn’t expect a big crowd for Senate Bill 5650. I didn’t expect the governor to be ghosted either.

The new law provides a state-funded 3.7 percent inflationary adjustment — pay hike — for tens of thousands of public school employees, including teachers in the next school year.

A head scratcher on why no one from the education establishment showed up. Maybe they didn’t know, right?

Enjoy the weekend.

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