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Spin Control

WA Lege Day 54: Time is running out

OLYMPIA -- Expect a flurry of activity today because it is one of the big "cut off" days. Most bills that started in one house (and passed) have to get out of the other  house by 5 p.m. today.

That doesn't apply to budget bills and a few other exceptions. But generally speaking, if your favorite legislator had a great idea and convinced his or her seatmates and colleagues to vote for  it, a majority of folks in the other chamber have to say yes, too, by 5 p.m., or the bill is kaput.

This makes sense, from a calendar standpoint, because the Legislature has six -- count 'em, six -- days left to get its work done.

It's main work, of course, is fixing the projected $2.8 billion hole in the budget. On that score, the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which on Thursday had a hearing on a proposal to institute a temporary sales tax and give voters a chance in November to swap it for an income tax on "high earners", has a noon hearing at which they could vote on whether to send that to the floor.

The proposal, which hadn't been mentioned in the previous 52 days of the session, was the big surprise of Thursday. Who knows what surprises are in store for Friday?

Both chambers start early. They may go late. They'll be back Saturday and Sunday, because -- did anyone mention this? OK, yes, but it bears repeating -- they are running out of time.

Talk of a special session is circulating, but it always is at this point in the regular session.

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The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.