Reopening schools, reviving a drug law and debating taxes

Here’s what’s happening on Day 64 of the 2021 session of the Washington Legislature.

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

2021 Washington Legislature, Day 64 of 105

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

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

OLYMPIA, March 15, 2021 — Good Monday morning.

Gov. Jay Inslee continues to ratchet up the pressure on teachers to get back into classrooms. He intends this week to issue a legally enforceable emergency proclamation requiring school districts to offer at least two days a week of in-person instruction in every grade by no later than April 19.

This is not a directive Inslee can effectively enforce — if he will even try. Rather, its value could be in armoring school board directors and superintendents in difficult negotiations with teacher unions on terms and conditions for resuming face-to-face education.

A couple dozen good-sized districts have state-approved reopening plans containing no timeline for getting middle- and high-school students back into classrooms. Inslee’s proclamation sets dates, which should serve to focus talks. Keep watch for a steady stream of announcements from your local district.

In the meantime, this proclamation is certain to sour Inslee’s relationship with many teachers. While some may applaud his get-tough attitude, many will regard it as offensive political interference. Long-term, it probably doesn’t matter a great deal since this is Inslee’s last term and he won’t need their votes or their union’s money.

Drug dealings

As state lawmakers decide whether to make drug possession a crime again, some cities and counties aren’t waiting and are doing so on their own.

The Marysville City Council adopted an ordinance March 8 to make it a gross misdemeanor to possess a controlled substance without a prescription. Snohomish County and Lewis County could be next. Read more on Marysville here and Lewis County here.

Washington had a law making simple possession a felony until last month, when the state Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional because it didn’t require prosecutors to prove someone knowingly, intentionally possessed drugs.

Bills to fix the language were introduced, but many Democrats don’t want to see the law’s return. Members of the House and Senate Democratic caucuses are chatting on a possible course of action.

Talking taxes (and fees)

Two signature priorities of Inslee and Democratic lawmakers — a capital gains tax and a cap-and-trade carbon pricing program — receive public hearings this morning.

At 10 a.m., the House Finance Committee tackles the capital gains legislation. It squeezed through the Senate on a single vote, which was secured by an amendment stripping off the emergency clause. House Democrats who wanted that clause may have to live without it to get this bill signed. This tax could generate $357 million over the next budget cycle — presuming it survives potential fights on the ballot or in court.

At 4 p.m., the Senate Ways and Means considers the Washington Climate Commitment Act, which, if enacted, could bring in $263 million in the 2023 fiscal year and $1 billion during the ensuing biennium. Nearly every one of those dollars is earmarked for transportation under the current version of the bill. It is set for a committee vote Thursday.

Also today, House Bill 1277, to impose a new $100 document recording fee collected by counties, will be heard at 3:30 p.m. in the House Appropriations Committee. This surcharge could net $292 million for housing assistance programs in the next budget. That is serious money on top of hundreds of millions of federal dollars already received for the same purpose.

To subscribe to the Cornfield Report, go to www.heraldnet.com/newsletters. | Previous Cornfield Reports here.

 

News clippings

Compiled by: House Democrats | House Republicans

 

On TV

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

 

Links

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) | Jim Camden (Spokesman-Review)

Talk to us

More in Local News

Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. (Olivia Vanni/The Herald)
Providence nurse’s tearful plea shines light on short-staffed ER

The nurse described an overwhelmed emergency department, as staff have pleaded with the Everett City Council for hazard pay.

FILE - This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. A leading doctor who chairs a World Health Organization expert group described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as "a random event" that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP, File)
Snohomish Health District hiring full-time monkeypox task force

The county is gearing up for more cases. The outbreak will be evaluated weekly to decide if a four-person team is merited.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Body found in impounded car in Lake Stevens

In June, Bothell police impounded the vehicle. Last week, a Lake Stevens business found a body inside.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
California woman dies after motorcycle crash west of Lake Stevens

Kimberly Moore was the passenger on a motorcycle Friday morning. She died the next night. She was 53.

Ella Larson, left, and Simon Fuentes sort through blueberries at Hazel Blue Acres on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Fruits, flowers and bees aplenty in Arlington farm fete

First-ever event highlights local growers’ bounty and contributions to local community

A view of the proposed alternative station location to Everett Station located east of the current BNSF rail tracks in downtown. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Could light rail station under Pacific Avenue and over railroad work?

A group representing people around Everett Station wants Sound Transit to study the idea.

State Representative Robert Sutherland, left, gives a thumbs-up to passing drivers as he and a few volunteers wave flags and campaign signs along the side of State Route 9 on July 22, in Lake Stevens. Sam Low, right, talks with seniors on July 20 in Lake Stevens. (Sutherland photo by Ryan Berry / The Herald, Low photo by Kevin Clark / The Herald)
In GOP battle of Sutherland vs. Low, Democrats may tip the scale

The state lawmaker and Snohomish County council member are vying for a House seat. Democrats make up roughly 40% of the vote.

Food forum
Chocolate peanut butter Incredibles

These chocolate peanut butter bars are, as the name suggests, incredible.

SnoTown Brewing’s Frank Sandoval in 2019. (Aaron Swaney)
SnoTown Brewery owner charged with child molestation

Frank Sandoval conceded his conduct with a girl at his brewery was inappropriate, but he denied touching her sexually, charges say.

Most Read