Spin Control

WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, 2011, 9:41 A.M.

Special Session Day 16: Medical pot in a.m., medical bills in the p.m.

OLYMPIA -- Both House and Senate Ways and Means committees have hearings today with long lists of bills on the agenda.

Among the bills in the Senate is the latest iteration of a medical marijuana law, introduced late Tuesday and scheduled for a 10:30 a.m. hearing today. The fast-tracking of the bill prompted legislative watchdog Jason Mercier to wonder "Dude, where's my public process?" this morning.

SB 5955 avoids things most objectionable to federal prosecutors and Gov. Chris Gregoire, like state oversight of growing and dispensing medical marijuana and concentrates on other aspects like a voluntary registry. The Cannabis Defense Coalition, which represents the existing medical marijuana operations, calls it hastily drafted and devastating. Not clear yet whether it has the necessary OK from leadership of both parties in both houses to get a floor vote in this "all budgets, all the time" special session.

House Ways and Means has a longer agenda, with hearings on a couple of business tax changes, including one that blends rates for print and online advertising in newspapers, and a vote on a bill that would eliminate the Higher Education Coordinating Board.

In the afternoon, Gregoire is set to sign a series of health care related bills designed to get the state in position for federal health care reform.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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