With two historic U.S. Supreme Court decisions this morning—one declaring 1996's Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and the other not actually ruling on the merits of California's anti-gay marriage Prop. 8, but letting the California court's earlier anti-Prop 8 decision stand because, SCOTUS said, anti-gay marriage advocates had no standing to challenge the pro-gay marriage ruling, it is admittedly a little difficult to focus on Fizz.
(PubliCola's LawNerd will tell us what it all means shortly.)
However, Fizz it is.
1. House Democrats moved forward on their $10 billion transportation package yesterday, passing a series of friendly amendments—Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34) and Rep. Cyrus Habib (D-48) added $22 million back in bike money and Habib added $35 million for 520 interchanges to help the Microsoft commute (along with a bike trail).
And defeating a batch of unfriendly amendments: The Republicans, unsuccessfully, tried to kill light rail in the Columbia River Crossing project, eliminate transit money ("transit is not transportation"), eliminate bike/ped money, make King County's local option a "roads only" option, and add a referendum clause to the whole thing.
Some highlights from the Republican attack: Rep. Ed Orcutt (R-20) who led parade of GOP amendments, got tongue tied while arguing that light rail would hurt jobs in Vancouver by sending business to Portland ... where there's light rail.
He also got zinged by Rep. Sam Hunt (D-22), who politely told Orcutt—who had just railed against a $30 million Hunt amendment to fund the Marvin Road interchange in Lacey, charging Hunt with funding new projects rather than funding maintenance—that the interchange was an existing project.
2. However, the package itself is up for a vote today, and the Democrats are going to need some GOP votes to pass it. (Some Democrats don't like the package because their districts don't get anything for the gas tax increase .... Seattle Democrats got $220 million for 520, so-so bait, but do get the local transit option.)
The business lobby is for the transportation package. We'll see if they get their money's worth from the Republicans who they continually back over Democrats.
Some Republicans have been enticed with some major local projects. A sampling: $29 million for West Richland's Red Mountain (Highway 182), Walla Walla's Highway 12 for $151 million, the 13th District's (Lincoln and Kittitas Counties plus parts of Grant and Yakima) Snoqualmie Pass for $158 million, and $774 million for widening 405 between Renton and Lynnwood.
But the pressure is on to toe the party line and vote against the package.
The business lobby is for the package. We'll see if they get their money's worth from the Republicans who they continually back over Democrats.
3. In budget deal news, the house Democrats and Republican-dominated senate were still working toward a deal yesterday. One thing that Fizz learned is in play is a Republican (and Association of Washington Business) priority bill to exempt in-house payroll divisions from the B&O tax.
Fizz thinks the GOP bill makes total sense. Currently, payroll divisions have to pay tax on the checks they cut, which the state, oddly, counts as revenue for those divisions.