2020 Washington Legislature, Day 60
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OLYMPIA, March 12, 2020 — Good morning. It’s the Sine Die edition.
The gavel could come down on the 2020 session before the sun sets. That’s the prediction of Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig.
“You’ll probably see one of the earliest Sine Dies that we’ve had, with the goal of getting everyone out of here as soon as possible,” he told reporters.
• What’s left: The House and Senate each need to vote on the supplemental operating budget and the Senate needs to pass a capital spending plan.
Finishing touches also are required on a very few policy bills. There is one to withdraw $100 million from emergency reserves and deposit it in the state’s disaster response account to cover costs of the coronavirus. And another is repeal of a tax break for Boeing (and the rest of the aerospace industry) that may resolve a trade dispute and prevent European nations from imposing tariffs on Washington products.
• Deal or no deal: I sat in a room of lobbyists Wednesday afternoon awaiting release of a negotiated data privacy bill. But at the last moment the conference committee that was supposed to make it public canceled its meeting. Obviously, no agreement. They will reportedly try again Thursday morning.
• The death toll in Washington from coronavirus reached 29 on Wednesday.
Gov. Jay Inslee took the extraordinary step of banning events with more than 250 people in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. He warned school superintendents in a private call that he’s nearing a decision on requiring schools to close for weeks.
Many school districts aren’t waiting and announced lengthy closures on their own. The Everett and Seattle districts are shuttering for two weeks. Monroe and Granite Falls are closing for six weeks.
A staff member in Sen. Maria Cantwell’s D.C. office has been diagnosed with coronavirus — the first known confirmed case on Capitol Hill. Politico’s Marianne Levine has the story.
• Presidential primary update: Former Vice President Joe Biden moved in front of Sen. Bernie Sanders Wednesday following a second day of ballot counting. You can find statewide results for the Democratic Party contest here.
What we’re writing and reading
• With crowd restrictions to slow coronavirus, Inslee uses emergency powers in ways rarely seen, reports Joseph O’Sullivan of the Seattle Times.
• My latest column on legislative hits and misses, and the long shadow of the coronavirus on the 2020 session.
• Modeling estimates issued this week by the Snohomish Health District indicate 1,100 people in King and Snohomish counties might already be infected with the new coronavirus, writes Phillip O’Connor of The Herald.
• Lawmakers are on course to pass a supplemental budget that saves a lot more money than first planned, writes Jim Camden of The Spokesman-Review.
At 10 a.m., the House and Senate will take to the floor for the final day of the 2020 session.
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)