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WA Lege Day 55: Tax debate on corporate officers

OLYMPIA -- Republicans ask to strip out theprovisions that make top corporate officers liable for unpaid taxes of a terminated or insolvent Limited Liability Corportion.

Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, says that will just result in businesses setting up their LLCs in another state.

Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Seattle, counters: "It's the CEOs that have gotten us into this mess. CEOs ought to know what they're doing."

Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, says the legislators keep talking about accountability, it's time to hold corporate officers accountable, too.

Sen. Cheryl Pflug, R-Maple Valley, argues its' unfair: "It holds the CEO strictly liable...even if it's not your fault. You're already liable if it is your fault. I don't feel better just because a CEO somewhere did something wrong, and got bailed out by the federal government."

Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, adds the people covered in the tax bill are top officers at small corporations in Washington.: "This isn't the fat cats that took our money. It's hardly the Wall Street bailout."

Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, calls the bill "vindictive and predatory." Sen. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, objects that she seems to be impugning the motives or characters of Senate Democrats.

Lt. Gov. Brad Owen rules Brown is correct, although they don't seem to be directed at a particular member. He warns everyone to be careful.

Pflug says Democrats are impugning CEOs. Owen says you can impugn any corporation you want, but not the individual.

"If I'm impugning anything, it would be the government," Roach says.

Amendment fails, so the provision stays in the tax package, on a voice votes.

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