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WA Lege Day 80: Domestic partnerships, $$ from the feds, more on medical pot, stadium taxes

OLYMPIA -- Hearings continue today on a wide range of ideas, and the Senate has a floor session this morning to move some bills.

The most controversial bill scheduled for a floor vote is probably HB 1649, which extends reciprocity on domestic partnerships to same-sex couples who move to Washington from other states where they had a partnership, civil union or a marriage.

Of note on the hearing schedule is HJM 8008, a resolution asking the federal government to give Washington state money if it gives other states some cash to  help shore up their faltering unemployment insurance programs. Washington's program isn't faltering, in fact the Legislature passed a law earlier this year to keep rates from going up because the fund is so healthy. But state officials are arguing that they shouldn't be left out of the federal largesse, just because they acted responsibly on the unemployment system while some other states didn't.

There's yet another hearing on SB 5073, a proposal to set up a system to distribute medical marijuana in Washington. This  one is in the House Ways and Means Committee, which is involved because there are some fiscal implications to the plan to regulate the growing, production and distribution of medical marijuana. The panel also has bills on taxes on rental cars, sexually violent predators, all-dayu kindergarten and employee contracts for University of Washington, so it's a pretty eclectic afternoon in House Ways and Means.

Senate Ways and Means, meanwhile, has perhaps the hottest potato of the afternoon, HB 1997, a plan to extend a "temporary" tax imposed on hotel and motel rooms in King County to  help pay for Mariners stadium (feel free to insert  your favorite quote about the permanence of temporary taxes here.) The money would be funneled into housing projections, arts and culture programs and improvements at the Washington Convention and Trade Center in Seattle.

The House Public Safety Committee has a hearing on recommendations to make the state's corrections system safer, proposals that come from the study in the wake of the murder of a guard at the Monroe Corrections Center.

And no, there is no sign of a General Operating Fund Budget from the House at this point...just in case you were wondering. But heck, we've got 25 whole days left until Easter and the end of the session.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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