1. U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert (D-WA, 8 ) is leading a Republican push to investigate the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)—questioning the group's support for Medicare reform provisions in the Obama health care bill which favored health care insurance policies that generate royalties for AARP to the tune of 53 percent of the advocacy group's $1.23 billion in operating revenues.

The Hill has the details.

2. With the burden of tackling the $5.2 billion state budget shortfall, the state house is behind schedule on releasing its budget (it was supposed to hit this week). Fizz reached budget ways and means chair Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Medina) last night about rumors of a half-billion-dollar disagreement with the governor that may be holding things up.

But Hunter wouldn't comment, saying only that the budget would drop when he had the votes.

Brad Shannon at the Olympian couldn't get anything out of Hunter either, but he did get an account from Hunter's GOP budget counterpart Rep. Gary Alexander (R-20, Olympia), the ranking Republican on the committee. Shannon writes:
His differences with Hunter total "about a half-billion dollars. It's a big number." He said they are over questions whether to eliminate funding for the Disability Lifeline, which helps temporarily disabled people and those waiting for federal Social Security disability benefits; the Basic Health Plan, which offers subsidized health insurance to about 35,000 low-income workers; and support for undocumented residents.

3. We were swamped yesterday with tunnel news, and we missed this press release: The UW announced the results of a nationwide survey (1500 people in 13 states) that they conducted comparing the beliefs of Republican and Tea Party voters when it comes to President Obama. Here's what they found:
•6 percent of mainstream conservatives believe Obama is destroying the country; 71 percent of tea party conservatives believe this to be true.

•16 percent of mainstream conservatives believe Obama is a practicing Muslim; 27 percent of tea party conservatives believe that.

•46 percent of mainstream conservatives believe Obama is a practicing Christian; 27 percent of tea party conservatives believe that.

•55 percent of mainstream conservatives believe Obama was born in the United States; 40 percent of tea party conservatives believe that.

•17 percent of mainstream conservatives believe Obama doesn't have a valid birth certificate; 26 percent of tea party conservatives don't believe he has one.

•40 percent of mainstream conservatives believe Obama's policies are pushing the country toward socialism; 75 percent of tea party conservatives believe that.

•32 percent of mainstream conservatives want Obama's policies to fail; 76 percent of tea party conservatives want this to happen.

4. A bill passed by the state senate earlier this month to make TransAlta's Centralia power plant stop using coal by 2025 and provide $55 million in community project money is moving through the house. It passed the environment committee last week and it's cued up to pass out of the capital budget committee this morning.

Liberals, such as environmental chair Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-33, Des Moines) and house sponsor Rep. Marko Liias (D-21, Edmonds), had been concerned about a senate provision that exempted the presumed replacement natural gas facility from greenhouse gas mitigation. Upthegove tweaked that by only exempting the energy output that directly replaces the coal; if TransAlta builds more natural gas capacity than the energy capacity at the current coal plant, the company has to mitigate the “extra” output.

However, Liias is nervous about a new amendment in the capital budget committee that puts the guaranteed community funding in question by removing the requirement that community projects are funded at a minimum level.