Tim Eyman, Engelbert Humperdinck and ‘Sound Trexit’

It’s Day 25 of 60 of the 2020 session of the Washington Legislature in Olympia.

Tim Eyman, Engelbert Humperdinck and ‘Sound Trexit’

2020 Washington Legislature, Day 25 of 60

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

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OLYMPIA, Feb. 6, 2020 — Good morning and welcome to the eve of cutoff.

Today might see lawmakers send the first bill of the session to Gov. Jay Inslee for signing. This legislation rewrites a law passed at the end of the 2019 session that imposed a surcharge on businesses to fund expansion of the state’s financial aid program. It turned out that bill wouldn’t produce the money necessary for the program and proved too complicated to administer.

The bill on the House floor, which was approved by the Senate, will raise the B&O tax on professional services and charge an additional surcharge on Microsoft, Amazon and few other mega-sized firms. The House is in session at 10 a.m.

Republicans oppose it in both chambers.

“This is a new tax,” GOP Sen. John Braun told reporters Wednesday.

• In other news from a meeting with the House and Senate Republican leadership, House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox seemed to put the kibosh on Republicans defecting to help expel Rep. Matt Shea. Wilcox said the House caucus has done everything they are going to do, starting with kicking him out of the caucus.

Wilcox has taken fire from supporters of Shea. Armed protesters showed up Friday to press their case. But Wilcox said there hasn’t been “anything that people see as a direct threat.”

• If you skipped Tuesday’s hearing on several car-tab-related bills, you missed Tim Eyman reciting the lyrics of an Engelbert Humperdinck song, “Please Release Me.” You also missed Sen. Steve O’Ban tout “Sound Trexit,” his bill to withdraw Pierce County from Sound Transit. As I wrote today, what you didn’t miss was Sound Transit’s plan for reducing the motor vehicle excise tax it charges. Because it doesn’t have one.

On a related note, the legal battle over Initiative 976 — the voter-approved measure that would erase the Sound Transit MVET — resumes in King County Superior Court today. There’s a 9 a.m. hearing on motions for summary judgment filed by each side. In November, a judge put the measure on hold until this courtroom scuffle is over.

• The cost of flooding and other weather-related damage is in the millions of dollars. On Wednesday, with Inslee out of state, Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib stepped in and signed an emergency proclamation for 19 counties. Here’s the proclamation with the list of covered counties.


What we’re writing and reading

Joseph O’Sullivan of The Seattle Times got the scoop on the House investigation of former lawmaker Jeff Morris. As O’Sullivan reports, an executive summary concluded that the Mount Vernon Democrat’s treatment of staff likely violated House personnel policies against harassment and intimidation. Morris resigned last year to take a private sector job.

• From Canadian imports to price caps, lawmakers are exploring ways to cut drug prices and reduce patients’ out-pocket-costs for medications, writes Shauna Sowersby for Crosscut.

• Democratic senators are taking another run at eliminating non-binding tax advisory votes, reports AP’s Rachel La Corte.


What’s happening

• On the move: At 8 a.m. Inslee’s requested legislation allowing him to craft a sweeping Clean Air Rule is due for a vote in the House environment committee.

• Just for fun? The House environment committee is also hearing a bill to declare a climate emergency and empower the governor to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There doesn’t appear to be time for it to be acted on before cutoff. But who knows.

Members of public employee unions plan to rally at 10 a.m. and then set out to secure lawmaker support for House Bill 1888, a top legislative priority. This bill would exempt workers’ dates of birth and other information from public disclosure. Unions say it’s a matter of privacy and safety and they don’t appreciate the strong opposition from newspapers and open government organizations.

Here’s today’s line-up of committee hearings.

Legislative agendas, schedules and calendars


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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)

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