Two tax duels and a unified push to ensure the people’s voice is heard

It’s Wednesday. Here’s what’s happening on the 17th Day of the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature.

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

2023 Washington Legislature, Day 17 of 105

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: | @dospueblos

Want this in your inbox Monday-Wednesday-Friday? Subscribe here.

OLYMPIA, Jan. 25, 2023 — Welcome. It’s Wednesday.

The House and Senate are in action today. On the docket are bills that should be noncontroversial and receive broad bipartisan support.

Plowing through the daily pile of newly introduced legislation, I found one I suspect will eventually reach the House floor.

It has an intriguing title — “Establishing the nothing about us without us act” — and 39 Democrat and Republican sponsors.

First-term Rep. Darya Farivar,D-Seattle, authored House Bill 1541 to ensure those most impacted by a pending government action are are among those in the conversation influencing the decision.

Simply put, the plethora of task forces, work groups, advisory panels and commissions created by lawmakers to sort through complicated issues must include people with real-world knowledge of the subject matter. State law calls it “lived experience.”

Advocacy groups, industry associations, and government agencies don’t get kicked off or shut out. This bill would put more chairs around the table. It means — editorial comment alert — a government which professes to be of the people, by the people and for the people will have to make sure it includes the people.

Booze battle

Washington’s tax code does not treat alcohol equally. Consumers pay significantly higher taxes on adult beverages made with distilled spirits than on wine and beer. Apparently, it dates back to the post-Prohibition era.

Those in the spirits industry want to see a change. Those who make a living selling beer and wine don’t.

On Tuesday, the debate played out in front of the House Regulated Substances and Gaming Committee on House Bill 1344 to add “low-proof beverages” to Washington’s liquor laws. For the unfamiliar, these are cocktails in a can.

The bill defines them as any beverage 16 ounces or less, contains between 0.5% and 7% alcohol but does not include wine, malt beverages, or malt liquor. Sales of these products would be exempt from the retailer license and distributor fees which exceed 20%. Instead there’d be a $2.50/gallon tax imposed.

Such a change could bring the retail price of canned cocktails down to a level closer to competing wine, malt and seltzer products, backers said. Beer and wine makers said large scale distillers don’t need the tax cut as they dominate the market. Craft brewers worry they will get squeezed off store shelves, replaced by cheaper canned cocktails.

Spirits-based canned cocktails are popular. Sales are up 214% in the United States and 491% in Washington in the past 3 years, according to data compiled by IRI and shared with me. IRI tracks consumer spending on alcohol beverage sales for grocery and other “off premise” retailers.

Capital gains showdown

Thursday is a big day as state Supreme Court justices will hear arguments on the legality of the capital gains tax. Their hour long hearing starts at 9 a.m.

In sum, the court is deciding whether the 7 percent tax on the sale or exchange of certain long-term capital assets like stocks and bonds is constitutionally valid.

It is on the books. Those who wrote, passed it and got it signed by Gov. Jay Inslee in 2021 insist it is a legal excise tax. The Department of Revenue is gearing up to start collecting it in a few months.

Opponents insist it is not. A Douglas County Superior Court judge agreed last March, concluding it is an unlawful tax on income. Washington’s constitution requires uniform taxation on property and this one is not.

The case is Chris Quinn et al. vs. State of Washington. You can watch on TVW.

To subscribe to the Cornfield Report, go to | Previous Cornfield Reports here.

News clippings

Compiled by: House Democrats | House Republicans


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.

TVW schedule | Current and recent video | Shows


Contact your legislator | District lookup | Bill lookup

Legislature home | House | Senate

Caucuses: House Democrats | House Republicans | Senate Democrats | Senate Republicans

Office of the Governor

Laws and agency rules

Beat reporters: Jerry Cornfield (Everett Herald) | Tom Banse (NW News Network) | Jim Brunner (Seattle Times) | Laurel Demkovich (Spokesman-Review) | Joseph O’Sullivan (Crosscut) | Melissa Santos (Axios) | Shauna Sowersby (McClatchy newspapers) | Claire Withycombe (Times)

Talk to us

More in Local News

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Mountlake Terrace council taps planning commissioner for open seat

With five votes, Rory Paine-Donovan was affirmed to join the ranks of the Mountlake Terrace City Council.

CEO Amy King standing outside of a Pallet shelter. (Courtesy of Pallet)
After rapid rise, Everett’s Pallet hits milestone: 100 shelter villages

Temporary home manufacturer Pallet hires locals who have “experienced homelessness, substance abuse or the justice system.”

Locals from the group Safe Lynnwood gather in front of the Ryann Building on 196th Street SW to protest the opening of a methadone clinic in the building on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Despite controversy, Lynnwood opioid treatment center opens its doors

For weeks, protesters have objected to the center opening near Little League fields and a Boys and Girls Club.

A man was injured and a woman found dead Sunday night after an RV fire in Marysville. (Marysville Fire District)
Woman dead, man burned in Marysville RV fire

The Snohomish County Fire Marshal’s Office and Marysville Police Department were investigating the cause of the fire.

Ismael Cruz-Sanchez speaks at his sentencing at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Driver in fatal I-5 crash in Arlington gets 10 years

Ismael Cruz-Sanchez had a lengthy history with impaired driving. He pleaded guilty to killing Jason Vogan, 45.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Boil water advisory in effect for 75 Snohomish homes

A water main break resulted in outages and possible contamination Sunday. Service was expected to return by Wednesday.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
No right turns on red gets a look, a bid to expand sports betting arrives

It’s a new week. Here’s what’s happening on Day 22 of the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

The final 747 is revealed during a celebration in Everett, Washington on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. The plane was rolled out Dec. 6 from the Everett assembly factory and delivered to the customer, Atlas Air. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘Still jaw-dropping’: Last Boeing 747 takes the stage in Everett

Thousands, including actor John Travolta, gathered at Boeing’s Everett factory to bid goodbye to the “Queen of the Skies.”

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
Lobbyist barred from WA Capitol after ruling he stalked representative

State Rep. Lauren Davis, D-Shoreline, obtained a domestic violence protective order against longtime lobbyist Cody Arledge.

Most Read