2020 Washington Legislature, Day 39 of 60
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OLYMPIA, Feb. 20, 2020 — Good morning.
Have you recovered from raucous Wednesday?
• The day began with an upbeat revenue forecast. They keep coming in this robust economy. This one shows the state will collect S606 million more in tax receipts for this budget. It means more spending is possible in supplemental budgets that are due out next week.
About half the increase is due to an unexpectedly large estate tax payment. (Do we owe the late Paul Allen a thank you for a final contribution to the health and welfare of Washington?)
• Then came the news that Boeing wants lawmakers to repeal the preferential business tax rate it’s enjoyed since 2003. Why? Well, if you recall, the European Union contends the lower tax rate amounts to an illegal subsidy, and a World Trade Organization panel agreed. Unless it goes away, the EEU could, as early as this summer, slap tariffs on Boeing planes as well as produce and other products from Washington.
This isn’t over. Boeing will likely want the state to provide other means of keeping its state tax bill down. Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement that he’s supportive of “a process that could reinstate incentives if allowed under a future agreement with the European Union.”
• Dozens of bills cleared the two chambers by the 5 p.m. cutoff. But many conversations Thursday will be about bills that did not make it and are theoretically dead.
High-capacity ammunition magazines won’t be banned, in part because of a gazillion amendments proposed by Republicans to the House bill. And Inslee’s request for broad authority to regulate emissions through a clean air rule didn’t receive a vote. The governor can still proceed with rules on refineries, but he wanted much broader power.
• We have our first supplemental budget. It is the Senate’s capital budget, details of which appeared online Wednesday. Not a lot of big-ticket items. There’s $15 million for grants to increase local shelter capacity, $3.4 million to finish schematic design for replacement of the leaky Irv Newhouse building, aka home of Senate Republicans, and $53.5 million to fund 65 construction and renovation projects in 39 school districts. A hearing on the budget is set for 3:30 p.m. today in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
• Vice President Joe Biden is releasing a list today of prominent politicos who are backing his run for president. Democratic state Sens. Marko Liias, Steve Hobbs and Mark Mullet and Rep. June Robinson are among those endorsing Biden. Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers and Snohomish County Treasurer Brian Sullivan are on the list, too.
• U.S. Sen. Patty Murray dropped by the press house Wednesday. Her choice in the race for the Democratic nomination: “I am backing anybody who can beat Trump.”
What we’re writing and reading
• There was a wild and spirited debate in the Senate of a bill about felon voting rights. Then, with little warning, Democrats adjourned and the bill died. Jim Camden of The Spokesman-Review reports what happened.
• Dominic Gates and Joseph O’Sullivan of The Seattle Times covered the news of lawmakers moving to repeal a lucrative tax break for Boeing and, they point out, a pretty good one for dozens of aerospace companies.
• Wednesday’s revenue forecast provided lawmakers with good news, writes AP’s Rachel La Corte. But as I note, having more money doesn’t always make the process easier. In this instance, Democratic budget writers can anticipate colleagues coming to them with new ways to spend the cash — and having the difficult task of saying no.
• Read about Mike Bloomberg getting bashed and other highlights of the Democratic presidential candidates debate in Las Vegas, by Zachary Basu of Axios.
• The sex ed bill passed by the Senate begins its journey through the House with an 8 a.m. hearing in the education committee. It looks like the language approved in the Senate is going to be replaced with verbiage drawn up by a House panel a couple weeks back.
• Also at 8 a.m., the plastic bag ban passed by the Senate will be considered by the House environment committee.
• The governor will hold a session with reporters at noon. TVW will be streaming.
• At 12:30 p.m., Republican leaders of the House and Senate plan to chat with reporters. The start time could be pushed back a little.
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)