Posts tagged: 2013 Washington Legislature
OLYMPIA – Senate negotiators will begin the push today for a package of new road projects and improved maintenance that could complete the long-discussed North Spokane Corridor and raise gasoline taxes by 11.5 cents over three years.
The package of 10 related bills, with a total price tag of $8.7 billion for projects all over the state, gets a formal airing at a Senate Transportation Committee hearing this afternoon. Whether it will prompt a special session or just lay the groundwork for more debate next year is unknown…
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OLYMPIA — Ed Murray will keep two titles — state senator and mayor-elect — through the end of the year in case he has to return to the state capital for a special session on transportation.
In a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee, Murray said he will resign his Senate seat on Dec. 31. That will give Democrats in his district the time to name a replacement before the regular session of the Legislature starts in January.
Murray, who won the Seattle mayor's race this month, had planned to resign before then, “but with the prospect of an upcoming vote on transportation, he did not want to leave the 43rd District without representation,” Aaron Wasser, a spokesman for the Senate Democratic Caucus, said in a press release.
Inslee has said he might call a special session — which would be this year's fourth — if legislators can reach agreement on a package of transportation construction and maintenance projects accompanied by increases in the gasoline tax and some vehicle fees. The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, which includes all Republicans and two Democrats, reportedly is putting the finishing touches on a $8.7 billion package that would raise gas taxes by 11.5 cents over three years. Legislators will test the waters for such a plan later this week during committee hearings.
Under state law, Democratic precinct officers within Murray's legislative district will nominate up to three possible replacements, and the final choice will be made by the King County Council. The person selected will serve in the regular session and any special sessions in 2014, and run for election next November.
In the wake of the Boeing machinists’ rejection of a contract extension the company said would assure the 777X would be built in Washington, a Spokane legislator said the state needs to take a bold step to become more attractive to manufacturing.
Make Washington a “right-to-work” state, which would make union membership and its dues optional.
That would be part of making the state “a welcoming overall environment” with a lower possibility of strikes, Republican Sen. Mike Baumgartner said. He wants Gov. Jay Inslee to call a special session to consider and pass such legislation.
“That’s not going to happen,” a spokesman for Inslee said. Boeing never mentioned right-to-work legislation as something it was seeking to guarantee the plane would be built in Washington, David Postman said. . .
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OLYMPIA — The three-day special session cost the state $8,460 in per diem expenses for members of the state Senate.
That's the tally released today from the Secretary of the Senate's office, from per diem requests filed by senators from last week's Thursday-through-Saturday session.
Legislators are allowed $90 per day to cover expenses while they are in Olympia for a special session. Some who didn't arrive until Friday only claimed $180, and a couple who only showed up for the final day, when the two Boeing bills came to the floor for votes, only requested $90. Nine senators didn't put in for any per diem, even though they were there for the full three days and did some of the heavy lifting, like Sen. Andy Hill, the R-Redmond, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
Among the Spokane-area delegation, Republicans Mike Baumgartner, Mike Padden and Mark Schoesler and Democrat Andy Billig put in for the full $270, while Republican John Smith requested $180.
Per diem expenses for the House, which has a slightly different calendar for reporting expenses, are expected to be available next week.
OLYMPIA — There's an axiom in politics that anything worth saying is worth repeating, sometimes ad infinitum.
Based on the late great special session, it would seem that even things not worth saying are worth repeating. That would be the only explanation for something Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, said repeatedly as she tried to amend legislation designed to help Boeing and the aerospace industry in such a way that all businesses in the state would get similar help.
“What's good for Goliath is good for David,” Holmquist Newbry said during floor speeches, and repeated in her post-session press release.
That's a very strange reading of the Bible, because 1Samuel seems to make very clear that what was good for David was something very much different than what was good for Goliath. Recall that Goliath wasn't just some big-assed dude, but he was decked out in full armor, like everyone else on the battlefield where David shows up with food for his bros.
David hasn't got an armor or a sword, and turns down King Saul's offer to wear his battle gear into the fight. He downs Goliath with a sling (which the G-man scoffed at), then whacks off the big guy's head with Goliath's sword. So it would seem that nothing that was good for Goliath was good for David, or vice versa.
Holmquist Newbry's amendments failed, but probably not because the state Senate is full of Scriptural purists.
OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee travels to the Museum of Flight this morning to sign legislation passed over the weekend in the hurry-up special session.
Probably an appropriate backdrop, considering the session was all about luring a new Boeing assembly line and wing manufacturing plant for the 777X, and the Museum of Flight is at Boeing Field, just down from Boeing facilities, and there are lots and lots of Boeing planes inside and out.
On Saturday, after the Legislature wrapped and the many fathers of the legislative victory assembled with Inslee for a victory press conference, the governor was asked when the “dog and pony show” of bill signing would take place. Normally these occur in the governor's conference room.
Time and date to be determined, Inslee said, but added: “Just dogs. It's a Lean Management things. We don't use ponies.”
Apparently Lean Management does, however, allow the use of planes.
OLYMPIA — The Senate gave overwhelming approval to bills designed to convince Boeing to build a new jetliner in Washington but rejected calls to spread the tax benefits and streamlined permit approvals to all businesses in the state.
On a 42 to 2 vote, the Senate extended tax breaks the aerospace industry currently enjoys for the 787 production through 2040, rewriting some provisions to include the new 777 X assembly line and a manufacturing facility for a new high-tech carbon fiber wing. The tax breaks have an estimated value of more than $8 billion to the aerospace giant, but would be cancelled if the company moves the assembly of the plane or any significant part manufacturing to another state.
On a 44 to 0 vote, the Senate approved a package of training programs for aerospace workers at state community and technical colleges and streamlined permitting for building new aerospace facilities.
Before each bill passed, however, the Senate rejected amendments that would cut the state's business and occupation tax by 40 percent for all businesses, and require all counties to process building permits as quickly as the aerospace projects will be handled.
“What's good for Goliath should be good for David,” Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, said.
Boeing is special, Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane said, but the Senate should “make a statement today that Washington's small businesses are also important.”
Both amendments failed on voice votes, and most senators stressed the impact Boeing has on the state's economy and lauded Gov. Jay Inslee for calling them into special session. But Baumgartner, who eventually voted for both bills, complained about the way they were rushed through committees outside the normal review process and with little chance for the public to understand what the Legislature was doing.
“I hope the next time there is a special deal for a special company…we do it in the normal way,” he said.
The bills go to the House, which is expected to take them up this afternoon.
OLYMPIA — Sen. and Seattle mayor-elect Ed Murray said he's dropping one of his titles, that of Senate Democratic leader.
Murray said he was relinquishing that post and Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, was stepping in as interim leader for the special session. Murray will remain in the state Senate through the session, and announce a resignation date after that with enough time for a replacement to be selected before the regular session starts in January.
OLYMPIA – The Legislature opened its third special session, which some have dubbed the Boeing session, with a look back 10 years, trying to make sure the aerospace giant keeps jobs in Washington in return for some $8.4 billion in proposed tax breaks.
Gov. Jay Inslee and most other witnesses at a House Finance Committee hearing on the tax break package extolled the economic and civic virtues of the state's largest manufacturer. It employs tens of thousands in its factories, has hundreds of suppliers around the state, keeps ports busy, stimulates the Puget Sound economy and even provides work for more than 100 visually impaired machinists through Lighthouses for the Blind in Seattle and Spokane.
Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, leads a lightly populated Senate through the pro forma opening for this year's Third Special Session.
OLYMPIA — The Legislature convened — or should we say reconvened — this morning, although if you overslept or lingered over that second cup of coffee, you might've missed the action. Such as it was.
As expected, these were starting sessions were pro forma — which is Latin for nothing much worth seeing — with a handful of legislators on hand to take care of the necessities like getting the formal notice from the governor and bringing all of the legislation that has been laying dormant since they were last gathered together in June out of mothballs.
The House Finance Committee has a hearing this afternoon, which will be a starting point for HB 2089, tax preferences Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing to accommodate Boeing and its 777X plant. Tomorrow the House Appropriations Committee it will have a hearing on HB 2088, which is the package for aerospace training programs.
Not yet scheduled: the $10 billion transportation package which Inslee says also is needed. That would likely go through Transportation Committees, which currently aren't scheduled to meet until Nov. 21, and haven't had their agendas updated to reflect any new proposals.
Before heading to Olympia for the start of the special session, state Sen. Mike Baumgartner wants to hear from constituents. He's holding a “mobile office” session in Airway Heights on his way out of town.
“I want to answer questions and receive feedback about what is on the minds of the voters,” he said in a press release.
Baumgartner will be at the Buckhorn Inn, 13311 W. Sunset Highway, from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Thursday. That means he'll miss the official start of the session, which is scheduled to kick off at 9 a.m. But Thursday is expected to be “pro forma” in the chambers, so he won't miss much.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday afternoon that he was calling the Legislature into a special session on Thursday morning.
OLYMPIA – The Washington Legislature will meet in a special session starting Thursday to consider a $10 billion transportation package and other legislation Gov. Jay Inslee said is key to landing the manufacturing plant for a new Boeing jetliner.
Standing with legislative leaders, Boeing executives and union officials, Inslee said a combination of transportation improvements, extended tax breaks, faster permits for building and aerospace education programs would guarantee the company will build the new jetliner and a new carbon fiber wing in Washington state.
The current 777 facility supports 56,000 jobs, and the new plane will create thousands more, Inslee said: “These jobs are ours if we act now.”. .
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Although the Legislature needed two special sessions to agree to a budget, in large part because of disagreements over how much to spend on public schools, a special legislative committee needed only about six minutes Tuesday to tell the state Supreme Court that budget is meeting a mandate to adequately fund education.
With only three members in the room and the remainder connected by telephone, the Joint Select Committee on Article IX Litigation unanimously approved a report that listed four major increases in state money going to school districts over the next two years.
It's part of a total increase of $982 million to be spent on public schools in the 2013-15 biennium. . .
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There are things one learns after 153 days watching the Legislature.
Well, technically not 153 days of watching, because there were big stretches of time in the 105-day regular session, the 30-day first special session and the 18-day second special session that there really was no Legislature to watch. Most of the honorables were gone home and the few leaders and budget negotiators were squirreled away from the prying eyes of the public. But even when they are gone, there were lessons to be learned. Such as:
OLYMPIA – After 153 days, the Washington Legislature decided Saturday it had had enough, even though Gov. Jay Inslee wanted it to do more.
OLYMPIA — The Legislature passed a $3.6 billion capital projects budget this evening as its last action of its protracted session.
In quick succession, the House and Senate both passed the list of projects and gave the state the authority to sell bonds to build them.
With a plan to spend an extra $10 billion on transportation projects dead, the capital budget was the final thing on the Legislature's plate and adjournment is expected soon.
OLYMPIA — Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, holds Henry Schlicher while his father, Sen. Nathan Schlicher, D-Gig Harbor, handles a motion on the Senate floor. The extended special session prompted Schlicher to bring his son to the Legislature Saturday.
OLYMPIA — That sound you heard was the last gasp death rattle of a $10 billion plan to raise gasoline taxes to pay for new road projects, fix existing roads and bridges and boost mass transit.
Despite a plea from Gov. Jay INslee earlier in the day to pass the package, which was declare dead but then moved to life support late Friday night, the coalition that controls the Senate said there were too many questions about the list of projects, the cost of doing them without further reforms in the state Transportation Department or rules for building roads and bridges.
Senate Democrats tried to force the bill onto the floor through a parliamentary maneuver. Inslee had predicted if the predominately Republican coalition would allow a vote, it could pass.
Before the vote on the maneuver, technically known as a motion to move to the Ninth Order, Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler, asked to reject it as a “procedural vote.” In case anyone missed his point, Schoesler used the word procedural four times. The coalition has always held its 25-24 margin on procedural votes.
It did this time, too. The motion failed 26-21.
Legislature expects to adjourn later today.
OLYMPIA — There was very little information on the 2013-15 operating budget that was announced Thursday, and only “broad-brush” details emerged during the day.
Late last night, however, the Legislature got the whole enchilada up on the budget website. Plenty of time for everyone to read it before this morning's 8:30 a.m. hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
Not to worry, though, Chairman Andy Hill assured folks who showed up bright and early for the hearing. The budget is really just a “compilation of bills that have already been heard in this committee” — with the exception of a couple of tax exemptions for renewable energy projects.
Lobbyists who had gathered for what is likely to be their last big committee hearing of 2012 were mostly complimentary of the latest incarnation of a spending plan, which does not remove most of the tax credits and exemptions for businesses that some legislators had targeted at the beginning of the year.
Inslee and legislative leaders say there's a budget deal.
“State government will continue to operate,” Inslee said.
The deal should be passed by both houses and on his desk by 5 p.m. today, Inslee said in a brief announcement attended by a bipartisan group of 10 legislators. He released no details of the agreement, but legislative leaders later offered only some broad outlines of the deal, either in meetings with their rank and file members or to the press.