1. As opposed to Seattle Times editorial writer Brier Dudley, recommending deals at Target doesn't actually strike me as much of a bike policy.
2. Today is the last day of the legislative session in Olympia; it’s not a heavy lift biennium budget-writing year, but polarized partisanship has become so commonplace that once again, all signs indicate yet another special is on the way.
Democrats and Republicans are still sparring over the off-year supplemental budget—Democrats want to close tax breaks and Republicans don’t.
A longtime Olympia lobbyist told Fizz last night the legislature had “zero chance” of finishing today, adding: “At this point, even if there was a budget deal, they wouldn’t be able to finish by the end of the day. But they don’t even have a budget deal.”
Governor Jay Inslee threatened to start vetoing every bill the legislature has already passed this session unless the two sides reach a budget deal by today’s session deadline.
A special session would provide a second chance for some important bills such as the pregnant workers fairness act and Seattle’s affordable housing bill which haven’t passed yet.
3. One bill that did pass yesterday? Legislation that addresses the recent Washington State Supreme Court ruling against 2012’s charter schools initiative; the court said charters were not allowed to be funded with general fund money or the school construction fund because those sources were only allowed to fund “common schools.” The legislation identifies a separate source for charters—a higher education, early learning, and work-study account that’s funded by lottery dollars known as the Washington Opportunities Pathways Account.
The original bill took $18 million from the account to pay for charter schools and then dedicated $18 million from general fund to help cover programs that the Pathways Account usually covers such as the State Need Grant, College Bound Scholarship Programs, and the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program. However, the house stripped out the general fund swap and is leaving those appropriations up for debate in the ongoing general fund budget negotiations.
The original bill had passed out the senate early in the session in mid January, but languished in the Democratic house until yesterday when 10 Democrats broke ranks on the taboo issue and joined the Republicans, helping to pass it 58-39.
Seattle state representative Eric Pettigrew (D-37, Southeast Seattle), a longtime charters supporter and the only African American state legislator, along with Seattle area legislators, state representatives Larry Springer (D-45, Kirkland), the sponsor, Ruth Kagi (D-32, North Seattle), Judy Clibborn (D-41, Mercer Island), and Tana Senn (D-41, Mercer Island) were among the ten Democrats who broke ranks.
4. The GOP state senate's probe into the Department of Corrections scandal has $31 and some loose change left in its budget. The state senate's administrative staff received the bill Wednesday from the Seattle law firm of Davis, Wright & Tremaine, which is supporting the senate law committee in its investigation.
The bill is $124,968.50. The probe has $125,000 budgeted for it. To continue, the senate law committee will have to ask the senate facilities and operations committee for extra money. Since the GOP controls the senate's pursestrings, that approval seems likely.
A software glitch led to roughly 3,200 prison inmates getting released several weeks early between 2002 and 2015. The corrections department first discovered the software problem in 2012. Governor Jay Inslee first learned of the problem in December 2015. Three state officials have resigned, two more received demotions and two received reprimands.
Inslee appointed two outside investigators whose total bill is slightly more than $125,000 with some extra expenses expected because of follow-up work. Inslee's probe interviewed 58 people and produced a report. The Senate probe—opposed by the senate Democrats—has taken sworn testimony from roughly 15 or 16 people and so far. No decision has been made yet on additional hearings. The senate report is expected in April or May.