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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Olympia

First bill out of the gate…

Moving with rare speed, the Legislature is rushing through a bill to steer $7.6 million more into home heating assistance for low-income families.

The House of Representatives passed House Bill 2730 Wednesday morning, handing off the bill immediately to the Senate. Gov. Gregoire -- who has already said she supports the proposal -- is expected to sign it into law by the end of the week. The Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development predicts that the bill would allow make an additional 14,120 households available for an average of $350 each. It would also allow for 350 low-income homes to be weatherized.

"This bill must be passed now, while people are struggling with high heating bills," said prime sponsor Rep. Tami Green, D-Lakewood. "If we were to wait to take action on this bill, we would be doing a disservice to the citizens of Washington State."

Republicans, eclipsed by the Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, have repeatedly pointed out that they called for a similar change back in September. They wanted the governor to convene a one-day session then, so they could cap energy taxes for now.

"She (Gregoire) didn't do that," Sen. Mike Hewitt said Tuesday night. "So we lost three months of heating for low-income citizens."

Short takes and breaking news from the Washington Legislature and the state capital.