Students, businesses to get a little help from lawmakers

Here’s what’s happening on Day 12 of the 2021 session of the Washington Legislature.

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

2021 Washington Legislature, Day 12 of 105

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

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OLYMPIA, Jan. 22, 2021 — Good morning. It’s the end of the second week and I am almost out of virtual backgrounds.

If you haven’t been here this week, a chain-link fence still surrounds the state Capitol, but members of the National Guard are no longer standing shoulder-to-shoulder behind it. They’re around, at least for a few more days. And there’s no lack of Washington State Patrol troopers. Security is still high. The final tab for security is going to be north of $5 million.

Low supply, high demand

When the session began, legislative leaders expressed frustration at the slow pace of getting vaccines into people’s arms. Washington had doses but struggled to get them out and administered.

Now the frustration is different. There are not enough doses as the number of people eligible to get in line grows. Counties are jostling for shares. And one Island County commissioner didn’t appreciate the state redistributing part of its allotment to a neighboring county.

Such tales are likely to multiply until the supply meets demand.

On the floor

Businesses receiving federal pandemic aid through the Paycheck Protection Program were probably surprised state law treated those dollars as taxable receipts.

Today the House is expected to approve a remedy, House Bill 1095. It will exempt those monies from business-and-occupation tax, retail sales tax and public utilities tax.

Also on the floor calendar is HB 1121, allowing the state Board of Education to authorize school districts to waive some high school graduation requirements for students in this year’s senior class. COVID-19 threw a monkey wrench into education last school year and continues to be a challenge for students this year.

Tim v. Bob

A civil trial in which initiative promoter Tim Eyman is accused of being a serial violator of Washington campaign finance laws ended Thursday in a Thurston County courtroom.

You may recall that Attorney General Bob Ferguson alleged in a 2017 lawsuit that Eyman illegally moved funds between two initiatives in 2012, got a kickback from a signature-gathering vendor and failed to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions.

Richard Sanders, Eyman’s attorney and a former state Supreme Court justice, said that even if his client did everything attributed to him by the state, none of it was illegal under existing statutes.

The state is pursuing $7.8 million in fines and much tougher restrictions on Eyman’s involvement with political committees.

“Nobody has ever violated this statute for this long in this many ways,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Newman said.

Sanders’ view: “You cannot participate in a free society with those kind of restrictions.”

Superior Court Judge James Dixon said he hopes to issue a decision in the next two weeks.

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