Inslee wants pursuit bill and press houses face demolition

It’s Day 61. A deadline arrives for bills that cost money. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 legislative session

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2023 Washington Legislature, Day 61 of 105

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: | @dospueblos

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OLYMPIA, March 10, 2023 — It is Friday. At last, right?

A wild week as a load of marquee bills wound up in the legislative morgue at cutoff. Rent control. Extremism commission. Emergency powers reform. Recycling industry overhaul. Marijuana home grows. Those conversations are done, for now.

Police pursuits narrowly avoided a political burial too. Now, its fate is emerging as one of the must-see dramas of the session.

It seems as if a bill giving cops wider berth to engage in chases does not reach the desk of Gov Jay Inslee, responsibility — or blame depending on one’s perspective — will rest with House Speaker Laurie Jinkins and the Democratic caucus.

Why? The Senate wants it. Inslee does too.

When the sun rose Wednesday, House Bill 1363 appeared to be the only legislative vehicle for this discussion. It sat in Rules, awaiting a call up to the floor before the deadline arrived for bills to be advanced out of their chamber of origin.

That call would never come.

As House Democrats signalled their unwillingness to act, Senate Democrats jumped in.

Not all 29 but enough to endorse the procedural rarity of pulling a vehicle pursuit bill out of the Law and Justice Committee where its chair, Sen. Manka Dhingra, seemingly killed it in January. She suggested the move.

“This is a pretty big policy,” Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig said Thursday. He said Dhingra came forward, realized the House wasn’t going to move it and said the conversation should not end.

She rewrote the Senate bill into something nearly identical to the House version. It passed 26-23 with 16 Democrats and Republicans supporting.

Inslee on Thursday endorsed the legislation, calling it “realistic” and “meaningful.”

“I do want a bill to get to my desk,” he said at a news conference. “I hope the House will seriously consider it and pass it.”

Fond farewell

If you want to see the less-than-stately manors where members of the Capitol press corps practiced their craft, do it today or this weekend.

The process of demolishing the two former press houses, AKA Blue House and White House, is under way. A fence is up. Dumpsters are positioned. Salvage work begins next week. Tearing apart and tearing down won’t be far behind.

Their demise – announced two years ago — incited a look back by Paul Queary and this piece by Derrick Nunnally on the diminishing number of statehouse reporters and evolution of our industry. Both are worthy reads.

I was in the last class of journos to roam the halls of the dilapidated but distinguished structures. In my first office in the Blue House, I could view the Capitol dome through a single-pane wood-framed window with a latch that never fully locked in place.

Plenty of memorable moments. One I share a lot involved Chris Gregoire though not sure she’ll remember.

It was 2005. She had not been governor long when she dropped by the press houses to say hello. When she came in to my office, I had two chairs, lots of stuff everywhere and not done a great job cleaning up. I wanted to be on my best behavior since the state owned the building, technically making her my landlord.

I thanked her for the digs, and for keeping out squatters, by that I meant mice. At which point I pointed out the mouse trap deployed near the radiator. It hadn’t captured any prey that day, fortunately.

Anyway, I recall thinking it was a nice touch, and a not so subtle reminder of one of my roles in this job.

Enjoy the weekend.

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