Is the ‘grand bargain’ crumbling? Is a drug-law fix coming?

Here’s what’s happening on Day 99 of the 2021 session of the Washington Legislature.

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

2021 Washington Legislature, Day 99 of 105

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: | @dospueblos

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

OLYMPIA, April 19, 2021 — Good morning. It’s the final Monday of regular session. When the clock reaches 8 a.m., lawmakers will have 160 hours until Sine Die. Here’s where things stand in two dramas which will occupy the spotlight today.

Whither the ‘grand bargain’?

A cap-and-trade program is emerging as majority Democrats’ chosen path for tackling carbon emissions.

House Democrats reworked Senate Bill 5126 to cut direct ties with passage of a transportation funding package. Rather, the latest version steers money into a new account outside the transportation budget to pay for transit, electric ferries and other stuff to get cars off the road. This may win over those who want a straight carbon fee and who oppose spending any carbon-related revenue on pavement.

Also, a low-carbon fuel standard is now part of the SB 5126 conversation. An amendment from Democratic Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, the clean fuels guru, requires a standard be enacted by the end of 2027, otherwise no proceeds from the cap-and-trade program can go into that new account.

Meanwhile, a transportation package awaits action in the Senate and must still go through the House. Its future is dicey. It could be slimmed down or remade into a roads-heavy package. But some legislative leaders are willing to wait until 2022 to see if a federal infrastructure bill is signed that handles any of the state’s targeted needs. Theirs may be the final word.

Will there be a Blake bargain?

Lawmakers are intent on doing something in response to the state Supreme Court’s Blake decision, which invalidated the drug-possession law. There are signs of a bipartisan willingness to use the operating budget to bolster treatment services for those with a substance use disorder.

One sticking point is whether to allow adults to legally possess small amounts of drugs like heroin, cocaine and LSD. Some Democrats want to, some Democrats don’t. Republicans are opposed across the board. Another area of difference is the appropriate punishment if possession is outlawed.

The Senate’s passage of a revised Senate Bill 5476 may be a harbinger of a final product. It makes drug possession a crime again but lessens the penalty to a gross misdemeanor from the felony it was before. Among other changes, it requires diversion for first and second offenses and starts a conversation on personal use amounts. It passed 28-20.

Senate bills 5126 and 5476 will receive public hearings at 9 am today in the House Appropriations Committee. The panel is to vote on cap-and-trade Tuesday and the Blake bill Wednesday.

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) | Laurel Demkovich (Spokesman-Review) | Jim Camden (Spokesman-Review)

Talk to us

More in Local News

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
1 dead, 1 in hospital after 3-vehicle crash on Highway 9

A concrete pumping truck and two sedans crashed Monday afternoon, closing the highway near Bickford Avenue.

Moses Malachi Brewer appears in court for sentencing Friday, March 24, 2023, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Man sentenced to 18 years for 2019 shooting in Everett

Moses Brewer, 23, shot four people in an Everett apartment, which left one victim paralyzed on his right side.

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
Health care spending continues to outpace inflation, driven by prices

Can state efforts curb 6.7% growth per year in overall health care spending?

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
A buffet of budgets, a bunch of whales and a request for your miles

It’s Day 78. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

Richard Rotter listens to witness testimony in his trial at the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington on Monday, March 20, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
As prosecution rests, jury hears jail call after Everett cop killing

“Try to put a wild cat inside a cage? … See what happens,” said Richard Rotter, accused of killing officer Dan Rocha.

James Lewis
The month in public health: COVID hospitalizations near pandemic low

Meanwhile, the bad news: Opioid overdoses continue to increase in Snohomish County.

The new Arlington Everett Clinic on Monday, March 27, 2023 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
New Everett Clinic branches opening in north Snohomish County

A new specialty and surgical clinic opened Monday in Arlington, with another clinic coming soon in Marysville.

FILE - In this photo taken Oct. 2, 2018, semi-automatic rifles fill a wall at a gun shop in Lynnwood, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee is joining state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to propose limits to magazine capacity and a ban on the sale of assault weapons. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
WA Senate panel OKs assault weapon ban, a day after Nashville shooting

Democrats overrode Republican objections, pushing the prohibition on many semiautomatic weapons a step closer to becoming law.

A standard jet fuel, left, burns with extensive smoke output while a sustainable avation fuel, right, produces less smoke during a demonstration of the difference in fuel emissions on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Paine Field unveils plan for new, more eco-friendly jet fuel center

The research and development center is a joint effort by Snohomish County and Washington State University.

Most Read