Soda pop tax surfaces as school reopening battle rages on

Here’s what’s happening on Day 43 of the 2021 session of the Washington Legislature.

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

2021 Washington Legislature, Day 43 of 105

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: | @dospueblos

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

OLYMPIA, Feb. 22, 2021 — Good Monday morning.

Today is the deadline to get policy bills with a price tag out of fiscal committees — budget and transportation, primarily — or they are done for the session.

For the rest of the week, it’s long days of virtual floor sessions in the House and Senate as lawmakers start passing their bills to the other chamber.

Meanwhile, is this going to be the week Gov. Jay Inslee finally reveals what Phase 3 of his reopening plan looks like and explains how counties can get there? As vaccinations rise and the infection rate falls, the timing seems ripe for an update.

Count on Inslee this week to keep pressing, practically demanding, public schools reopen. He’s been all but guaranteeing teachers and students will be fine as long as everyone follows safety protocols penned by his administration.

He may be right. Science and data collected thus far back his assertion, as my colleague Joseph Thompson reported recently. And the latest OSPI report shows about a third of Washington elementary students are in a classroom on any given day.

Parents and teachers wary of in-person learning are wondering what if he’s wrong.

“The fear of this is understandable. But it is not backed up by experience,” Inslee said at a Jan. 26 news conference. “Our experience shows we can operate a school safely. There’s no zero risk. Any time you step out of your living room there’s some risk.”

Not so fast

Inslee and lawmakers continue to negotiate a multi-part deal to bring agreement on a cap-and-invest program, clean fuel standard, multi-year transportation package and funding source for culverts.

Details of one component, a proposed bond measure to cover the roughly $3 billion tab for removing culverts with a bond, could emerge this week.

Inslee embraced the approach at a Friday news conference. “We found this is the most tenable path to move forward to get these jobs done,” he said.

But David Schumacher, the governor’s budget director, chimed up quickly with a clarification that seemingly contradicted his boss. There’s apprehension with putting the bond to a statewide vote, he said.

“This is still a legislative conversation that we haven’t bought off yet,” he said. “We’re very uncomfortable with the idea of, you know, holding hostage the culverts to a ballot measure. I think we’re going to have to see a lot more detail before we’re going to be okay with it.”

Meanwhile, the bill creating a cap-and-invest program is slated for a vote in the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee on Thursday. There’s a new version of Senate Bill 5126. You can find more here.

Soda pop tax arrives

If you hurry, you can catch the 8 a.m. hearing on a proposed tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee.

Seattle has had such a tax since January 2018. It is 1.75 cents per fluid ounce and is charged to distributors of sugary drinks who in turn can pass it on to stores. Senate Bill 5371 would apply the same rate on “sweetened beverages” statewide starting Oct. 1. It would generate an estimated $359.3 million in the next biennium with 60% going to public health.

To subscribe to the Cornfield Report, go to | Previous Cornfield Reports here.


News clippings

Compiled by: House Democrats | House Republicans



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



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

Man hurt in house fire east of Everett

The home in the 12400 block of 51st Avenue SE was reported on fire at 12:54 a.m.

A wanted suspect was arrested after a standoff with law enforcement Tuesday night. (Bothell Police Department)
Kidnapping suspect arrested after standoff in Bothell

A large police presence contained the property in the 20500 block of 32nd Dr. SE on Tuesday night.

Community Transit's Lynnwood microtransit pilot project is set to launch this fall with a service area around the Alderwood mall. (Community Transit)
Lynnwood’s microtransit test begins this fall, others possible

Community Transit could launch other on-demand services in Arlington, Darrington and Lake Stevens.

Doctor Thomas Robey sits in a courtyard at Providence Regional Medical Center on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
‘It’d be a miracle’: Providence tests new treatment for meth addiction

Monoclonal antibodies could lead to the first drug designed to fight meth addiction. Everett was chosen due to its high meth use.

Rev. Barbara Raspberry, dressed in her go-to officiating garments, sits in the indoor chapel at her home, the Purple Wedding Chapel, on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Everett, Washington. The space used to be two bedrooms, but she and her husband Don took down a wall converted them into a room for wedding ceremonies the day after their youngest son moved out over 20 years ago. The room can seat about 20 for in-person ceremonies, plus it serves as a changing room for brides and is the setting for virtual weddings that Raspberry officiates between brides and their incarcerated fiancees at the Monroe Correctional Complex. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett’s oh-so-colorful Purple Wedding Chapel is in the red

Rev. Rasberry has hitched hundreds of couples over the years. After her husband died, she’s unsure if she can keep the place.

Man dies in motorcycle crash that snarled I-5 in Everett

Washington State Patrol: he tried to speed by another driver but lost control and hit the shoulder barrier.

Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, right, a Democrat, and Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, left, running as a nonpartisan, take part in a debate, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, in Olympia, Wash., with Melissa Santos, center, of Axios Local, moderating. Hobbs and Anderson are seeking to fill the remaining two years of the term of Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who left to take a key election security job in the Biden administration. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Sparks fly as Hobbs, Anderson face off in secretary of state debate

Julie Anderson called Steve Hobbs an “inexperienced political appointee.” He’s been in the job since Inslee put him there in November.

Zion Wright, 6, makes a face as Cecilia Guidarrama starts to massage cold facial cleanser onto his face during Evergreen Beauty College’s annual back-to-school beauty event on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Dozens of kids get free back-to-school haircuts in Everett

For hours on Wednesday, training beauticians pampered families at the Everett campus of Evergreen Beauty College.

Jose Espinoza Aguilar appears in court via video for arraignment Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Prosecutors: ‘Danger’ shot man in head ‘without provocation or warning’

Jose Espinoza Aguilar had just been released from prison in May for another shooting. He now faces charges of first-degree assault.

Most Read