Lawmakers are on track tonight to end a grueling legislative session that saw two lawmakers hospitalized and left the state facing $4 billion in cuts to schools, adult day care centers, colleges, hospitals, and health coverage for the working poor.
"It has been a brutal year, frankly," said Rep. John Driscoll, D-Spokane.
The session ended with some 11th-hour drama, as Pierce and Clark county lawmakers teamed up to defeat a controversial bill from Sen. Chris Marr, D-Spokane. The bill would have rewritten some renewable-energy requirements for utilities. After a cascade of legislative "hostage-taking" lead to a days-long deadlock over other bills, leaders killed Marr's bill.
"It was a fun round of cards tonights," said Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Roy. "Of course, the winners always feel that way."
Marr argues that the bill, SB 5840, was a careful balancing act that preserved the voter-approved focus on expanding renewable energy while not wanting to place too hard a burden on utilities and ratepayers. He said the fight could have gone on, pushing the session into overtime, but the Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown decided to press ahead and not hold up other key bills, including a related tax break for renewable power projects.