License plates, the X-file, and a tribute to lawmakers who’ve died

It’s Day 64. 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 64 of 105

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: | @dospueblos

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OLYMPIA, March 13, 2023 — Welcome to Monday. Back to the grind we go.

Gov. Jay Inslee hosts British Columbia Premier David Eby this afternoon. The two will lunch together ahead of private talks involving delegations from the state and Canadian province. Then the two leaders will meet with reporters.

A week ago Inslee hung out with Finland President Sauli Niinistö. Any bets on which foreign dignitary will be here next week?

In the meantime, lawmakers’ focus is sharpening as they separate the chaff from legislative wheat. And issues in need of negotiating are coming into sharper focus.

One of those — remember, I am only a messenger — could be special license plates. Which new ones will be approved could become quietly contentious.

The Senate Transportation Committee last week advanced bills creating special plates recognizing pickleball, the official state sport; Mount St. Helens, the state’s most active volcano’ and LeMay-America’s car museum, where classic cars are always on display. Traditionally, lawmakers lean to giving a thumbs-up to no more than two new special license plates a session. And there are other ones out there.

People care about these plates. Thousands sign petitions to get them in front of lawmakers. Usually there’s a solid lobbying effort behind each. It’s why this could be a matter for closed-door dealmaking before this session ends.

The X-file

An email arrived Friday confirming Senate Joint Resolution 8202, the proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing access to abortion, is now in the “Senate Rules “X” file.” Translated, it is done for the session like dozens of other legislative creations.

Not a surprise. This was the most ambitious piece of the majority Democrats package of legislation to protect and defend those who seek and those who provide reproductive services. Inslee and Democratic leaders knew it lacked votes to pass. Senate Democrats could have brought it to the floor anyway for the debate. They opted not to spend the time. Likely, they needed it for caucusing and passing the vehicle pursuit bill.

Those who served

The House and Senate will hold a joint session at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday to remember 61 former lawmakers who have died since 2019, the last year the Legislature gathered in-person for such a tribute.

It’s an impressive roster of public servants whose tenures span decades.

Jim Moeller, of Vancouver, who passed away March 8, is the most recent addition. He served in the state House from 2003 to 2017. Known for his love of colorful bow ties, Moeller was one of the state’s first openly gay lawmakers and was a trailblazer for the gay community in Vancouver and the state, Shari Phiel wrote in The Columbian.

Slade Gorton, whose political journey ultimately led to the U.S. Senate, and Doug Ericksen, who died after a battle with COVID, are among those to be remembered. So too are Cliff Bailey, Paull Shin and Karla Wilson, who each served in Snohomish County for a stretch in the last half-century.

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