2020 Washington Legislature, Day 9 of 60
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OLYMPIA, Jan. 21, 2020 — The state’s new business tax to provide financial aid to thousands of college students looks to be in for an overhaul before a single dollar is collected.
There’s a problem. Actually a few. The popularity of the Washington College Grant — which promises money for all eligible students starting this fall — is greater than expected. There’s concern the tax, technically a surcharge on professional services, isn’t going to bring in enough money for the state to keep its promise. And anyway the surcharge is too darned confusing for those paying the tax and those collecting it.
The solution offered by Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, pretty much chucks out what lawmakers passed. The surcharge goes away and is replaced with a flat tax-rate increase for businesses with gross income above $1 million. Apparently this means thousands of businesses facing the surcharge will now avoid any increase, while some that didn’t have to pay the surcharge will now get a tax increase. Overall, more money will be generated.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee will tackle it this afternoon. Meanwhile, the House Finance Committee will consider a different approach Thursday.
• Will Senate Democrats discipline Sen. Mona Das, D-Kent, for her comments about what she heard in caucus? Senate Republicans made a second request for action on Jan. 17.
We may learn more about these situations when House Speaker Laurie Jinkins and Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig meet with reporters at 11 a.m. TVW usually live-streams these confabs.
What we’re writing and reading
• Samiu Bloomfield, known for his tattoo-covered body and waving U.S. flags around downtown Everett, died Sunday. Ben Watanabe had our story.
• Who is tending to all those 737 Maxes parked in Moses Lake? Turns out some are Boeing retirees, writes Janice Podsada of The Herald.
• Let’s talk about sex. Seriously. Lawmakers are considering establishing a comprehensive sex-education program for all public schools, and Neal Morton of The Seattle Times put together a Q&A — about sex education, not sex.
• An assault weapons ban, local preemption for firearm laws and regulated access to ammunition are on the agenda for Gun Day II. It starts at 10 a.m. in the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee. Thinking of attending? If you’re not in line now, you probably won’t get a seat in the main hearing room. The first person in line for the Senate hearing arrived around 3 a.m. Monday.
• Microbreweries and craft distillers may soon be allowed to sell their best libations at the Capitol gift center. A bill permitting such sales is expected to be voted out of the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee this morning.
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)