Move Ahead reaches the finish line on the eve of adjournment

Here’s what’s happening on Day 59 of the 2022 session of the Washington Legislature.

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

2022 Washington Legislature, Day 59 of 60

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

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OLYMPIA, March 9 — We’ve reached the 59th day day of the 2022 session. Congratulations.

As this penultimate edition went to inboxes, I was still waiting to receive the final supplemental operating budget, which was expected to be the largest in size and scope in state history.

Meanwhile, details on the much-discussed transportation package are out. The Democrat-drawn blueprint known as Move Ahead steers nearly $17 billion into all things transportation in the coming 16 years.

One mystery loomed: Where would Democratic authors find the last $2 billion piece of the financing puzzle?

The answers: Public Works Trust Fund and the state general fund.

Under the deal, there will be annual sweeps of $57 million from each of those accounts. (Yes, you’re right, Republicans have been suggesting using the general fund for transportation for a while.) These transfers will start in 2024 and run through 2038, the final year of the package.

That won’t quite cover it all. Extra federal dollars and a bigger fee increase for stolen vehicle checks (when vehicles are first registered in Washington) will cover the rest.

“There’s no gas tax or fuel tax of any kind in this proposal,” said Democratic Sen. Marko Liias of Everett, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. The prime author of the package added that it “is going to invest in every corner of the state in a responsible way.”

Foul language

An investigation is under way to determine if Republican state Rep. Robert Sutherland of Granite Falls violated the Legislature’s Code of Conduct following a pair of incidents on the Capitol grounds last Saturday.

Sutherland allegedly swore at the House director of security in an exchange that became heated as the lawmaker sought access to the Legislative Building because he was barred from his office for not taking a required COVID test.

A short time later, in a scene captured on video, Sutherland directed an f-bomb at the employee as he railed against the prohibitions in a speech to hundreds of conservative activists rallying at the Capitol.

Sutherland said he’s sorry if he offended anyone with his cursing, but he’s not apologizing to the House official.

“There were some expletives shared by the two of us,” Sutherland said. “I am willing to shake his hand and say we had a bad day. We both could have handled it better.”

Bernard Dean, chief clerk of the House of Representatives, said the probe would be finished as quickly as possible.

“We take this situation seriously in terms of him yelling obscenities at a staff member. That would be a serious breach of the respectful workplace policy and code of conduct,” Dean said.

Sutherland, who is up for re-election this year, could face punishments ranging from limited access to staff to removal from committees. That’s only if he’s found to have broken the rules. He insists he did not.

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