2020 Washington Legislature, Day 46 of 60
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Policy bills from one chamber need to move out of a committee in the opposite chamber by 5 p.m. Friday or they are done for the session. Or at least that’s what they tell us. This helps explains the lengthy agendas and intense conversations as lawmakers strive to keep their legislative dreams alive.
• How lawmakers address the challenges of an increasing number of homeless people and an inadequate supply of affordable housing will be a hallmark of the session. Supplemental budgets in the House and Senate each steer more than $100 million in new spending on these issues.
On Wednesday, Republican senators held a news conference to say the Democrats’ approach — putting many additional dollars into existing government-run or -subsidized programs — won’t improve the situation. They called for giving the private sector greater encouragement to build by reducing regulatory barriers.
“We are not going to subsidize ourselves out of this situation,” said Sen. Hans Zeiger. “We are not going to regulate ourselves out of this situation.”
• I blinked and missed the Senate’s 49-0 approval of its supplemental capital budget Wednesday morning. You can read the summary of what passed here. Today, senators are expected to vote on the operating budget. The version heading to the floor can be found here.
• Republican state Treasurer Duane Davidson on Wednesday advised lawmakers to try to not spend all of $1.5 billion in additional tax collections that have come in since the end of the 2019 session. Or, he writes, pledge some toward paying the state’s pension obligations.
• Legislation to repeal the state’s death penalty law could be voted on in an 8 a.m. meeting of the House Public Safety Committee. I have it on good authority that Senate Bill 5339 will pass. It may take some time. Rep. Jenny Graham had proposed 20 amendments by midday Wednesday. One would add a referendum clause to let voters decide in November if the law should be eliminated.
What we’re writing and reading
• Boeing wants a tax break repealed — for now, not forever. Aerospace workers and some lawmakers don’t want to see it given back without a few new conditions related to creating and retaining jobs. And Gov. Jay Inslee may be the linchpin for a deal. I explore all of this in today’s Herald.
• Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders held a rally in Tacoma recently, and speakers preceding him spoke about socialism and ending capitalism. Hey, America, welcome to the Seattleization of politics, writes Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat.
• On Ash Wednesday, Pope Francis urged Catholics to put down their phone and pick up the Bible, according to the Catholic News Agency. And Reuters reports he also improvised, noting Lent “is a time to give up useless words, gossip, rumors, tittle-tattle and speak to God on a first name basis.”
• Venerable news anchor and sportscaster Steve Raible says he is retiring from KIRO-TV. But he said he plans to continue on as the voice of the Seahawks on radio.
• Senate Bill 5395 requiring a comprehensive sexual health education in public schools is up for a vote at 8 a.m. in the House Education Committee. Looks like the House panel will act on a striking amendment, which assures this bill will get a return trip through the Senate —if it gets that far.
• At the same hour, the House environment committee will consider execing SB 5323, the plastic bag ban bill. As with sex ed, a different version from what the Senate passed will be up for a vote.
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)