Time to work out budget deals, iron out policy disputes

Here’s what’s happening on Day 57 of the 2022 session of the Washington Legislature.

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2022 Washington Legislature, Day 57 of 60

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

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OLYMPIA, March 7 — With four days to go, the focus is on completing a supplemental budget and a multi-year transportation spending plan, and ironing out ideological creases in a handful of policy bills.

Democratic budget writers in the House and Senate said they want to announce deals on operating and capital budgets sometime today. No guarantee they’ll immediately share details. No biggie. How Democrats want to spend the money is already pretty certain. The only news will be how much is spent in the various categories in the final 16 months of this budget cycle.

Meanwhile, with the transportation package — dubbed Move Ahead — majority Democrats entered the weekend at odds over where to get about $2 billion in revenue. The House backed an annual sweep of the Public Works Trust Fund, which is wildly popular with local government officials who rely on it to pay for infrastructure projects. Their Senate colleagues wanted to put a tax on exported fuel then shifted to an annual sweep of the Model Toxics Control Account, used to clean-up properties tainted with hazardous waste.

Word power

“Climate change” or “environmental resiliency”? They might sound like the same thing, but House and Senate Democrats are at odds over which of those they want counties planning for in the future.

Their bickering centers on House Bill 1099, authored by Bothell Democratic Rep. Davina Duerr and which expands the goals to be addressed in comprehensive plans.

As she wrote it, counties would plan to mitigate the effects of climate change by reducing greenhouse gases and vehicle miles traveled, and plan for climate impacts such as increased fires and floods. She spells it out in a paragraph titled “Climate Change.” It passed on a party-line vote in the House.

The Senate made a big change. It replaced “Climate Change” with the less politically divisive “Environmental Resiliency.” Also gone are references to greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled. Now local governments must address needs for resilience to “changing conditions including, but not limited to, wildfire, drought, flooding, air quality, other natural hazards.” The bill passed 31-16.

Climate change is still mentioned throughout. Its subtraction up front is a point of contention as the session comes to an end.

Quick Hits

• Remember how the House did an all-nighter last month to pass the ergonomics bill, HB 1837? This would make clear the state could regulate work-related musculoskeletal injuries. Labor unions wanted this badly. It squeaked by 50-48.

Well, it died in the Senate. Maybe the 43 amendments proposed by Senate Republicans had something to do with that.

• And remember how Senate Democrats pushed through legislation tweaking the breadth of emergency powers of a governor? They did so on a cut-off day last month.

House Democrats brought it to the floor around 1 a.m. last Thursday. Then they pulled it off when it became obvious Republicans were set to talk about its shortcomings, all night if necessary. So it died.

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