The issue was hot: the war on excess government regulators. The amendments were hot off the press. The speeches were polished. The voting machine was ready to go.
The state House was not.
After both the Republican and Democratic caucuses asked Monday for longer-than-expected sessions behind closed doors to deliberate, House Speaker Clyde Ballard, R-East Wenatchee, eventually called off floor debate and a final vote.
“We’re rapidly running out of runway,” he said. “We don’t want to rush this; it’s too important.”
The vote on HB1010, a key piece of the Republicans’ “Contract With Washington State,” was put off until Wednesday.
Democrats said the delay may have been for two reasons: A new administration estimate says the bill could cost $209 million in lost tax collections and $41 million to implement, plus the Democrats came up with a total rewrite of the bill.
“We caught the Republicans off-guard,” said House Minority Leader Brian Ebersole, D-Tacoma.
“We’ll pass our bill,” retorted the speaker, discounting the financial impact statement as an attempt by the Lowry administration to undermine the Republicans.
The Legislature may have to create its own Legislative Budget Office to generate unbiased impact statements, Ballard said.
As approved by committee, the measure would control state regulators and give the Legislature a much stronger oversight role. It also would impose a seven-year limit on state rules without reauthorization. And it would abolish penalties in most cases and reimburse private citizens up to $10,000 for legal bills if they successfully challenge a rule.