Lots and lots of talk about carbon fuels and financial aid

It’s Day 18 of 60 of the 2020 session of the Washington Legislature in Olympia.

2020 Washington Legislature, Day 18 of 60

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

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OLYMPIA, Jan. 30, 2020 — Wow, how wacky was Wednesday?

Talkfests broke out in both chambers. And one won’t be finished until today.

In the House, the low carbon-fuel standard bill was the subject of passionate and colorful debate. It went for a couple hours around lunchtime. They took a break and returned to finish at dinner time. To no one’s surprise, House Bill 1110 passed on a 52-44 vote. What might surprise some is that House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan voted against the bill. Last year he was for it.

In the Senate, they labored over Senate Bill 6492, which converts a surcharge on 82,000 businesses to a tax on about 16,000. Money from the tax, which would be collected starting April 1 (no joke), is for financial aid for college students. This is the entitlement program Democratic lawmakers created last year, but to fund it they pushed through a surcharge which is too complicated to administer and doesn’t generate enough money.

Anyway, Republicans responded with about two dozen amendments. Senators got through those Wednesday and put off a final vote until today. This bill needs to get through the House and to the governor by Feb. 10 if the conversion is going to be somewhat smooth, according to its author.

• Here’s a mini-scoop: Today, look for a new bill from Rep. Jake Fey, D-Tacoma, to meet the state’s challenge to fix culverts. The chairman of the House Transportation Committee will propose a 9.7-cent increase in the gas tax — spread over a decade — to cover the projected $3.7 billion cost to repair 1,000 culverts so fish can migrate. Fey’s plan calls for a 0.7-cent hike this year and a penny increase in each of the ensuing nine years.

“It is a discussion piece,” he said. A hearing is planned next week.

• In memoriam: Ron Main, a lobbyist since 1981, has died. “His word was always golden,” said Sen Steve Hobbs, adding that Ron was “a strong advocate for this institution.” Watch Hobbs’ comments on the Senate floor.

What we’re writing and reading

• Remember the excitement about landing assembly of Boeing’s new plane, the NMA, in Washington? Boeing is rethinking its plans, reports Janice Podsada of The Herald.

• Is that bill a want or a need? I put a few of the most talked-about pieces of legislation to the test in my column this week.

Lawmakers moved Wednesday to let King County impose a tax on big businesses with employees who earn at least $150,000 a year, reports Daniel Beekman of The Seattle Times. King County Councilman Reagan Dunn doesn’t like it. “This renewed effort to tax jobs is a political zombie stumbling back from the graveyard of bad ideas,” he said in a statement.

What’s happening

• Conversation begins today over empowering the governor to negotiate sales-tax-sharing compacts with tribes. Hearings are planned on HB 2803 in the House Finance Committee and on SB 6601 in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The Tulalip Tribes are ready to move forward if one of these makes it to the finish line.

• Why are so many people wearing green? This is Environmental Lobby Day.

• On the move: A bill allowing sports betting at tribal casinos is up for action in the House Commerce and Gaming Committee. Meanwhile, similar legislation and a separate effort to permit sports wagering in card rooms will get heard at 8 a.m. in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee.

Here’s today’s line-up of committee hearings.

Legislative agendas, schedules and calendars


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