OLYMPIA -- The Legislature is in "hearings" mode today and Gov. Chris Gregoire has a special guest to discuss education, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
Both chambers have a hearing on Information Technology piracy legislation, a key priority for Microsoft in this session. Both have passed a bill on the topic, although they don't quite mesh, and each is being amended for a hearing in the other chamber today. Senate Labor and Commerce has a morning hearing and House Judiciary has a 1:30 p.m. session on the other chamber's respective bills. (For more on the topic, check out a previous Spokesman-Review report here.)
At the morning Senate Labor hearing, most committee members showed due deference to Microsoft, and the software giant got both a chance to open testimony and rebut some of the negative things that opponents, who included the state retailers, IBM and Fred Meyers, said about the bill.
Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, seemed to be the main dissenting voice, asking Microsoft and supporters if there wasn't some inconsistency in the bill. The state doesn't levy a property tax on intellectual property, yet the IT industry is asking the state to protect that property. Committee Chairwoman Jeanne Kohl-Wells cut Kline's inquiries off as being outside the scope of the bill, saying he should take that up with the software companies privately.
Also over in the House this afternoon is a hearing in the Health and Wellness Committee on the latest iteration of the medical marijuana bill, SB 5073.
Duncan's appearance is by video conferencing. Good thing, too, considering that on a previous visit of a cabinet secretary to talk about his area of expertise, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner decided to check out the Port of Tacoma with Gov. Gregoire to highlight international trade. They got drenched by a rainstorm that hit just as Geithner arrived at the port.
Duncan will be on a monitor, and everyone else will beinside a Senate hearing room, so everyone will stay dry.