1. On Friday, the state House passed a surprise amendment to a local funding bill. At the urging of Rep. Geoff Simpson (D-47, Covington, Kiss Song), the House gave transit districts like King County Metro the right to send a $20 car tab fee to voters (worth about $30 million annually). This is part of a move to expand taxing authority that King County has been nudging for all session to help fund Metro bus service. The bill also allows the County to spend a property tax—traditionally earmarked for ferries—on bus service to the tune of $25 million—$3 million specifically for transit on 520.
In a non-transit-related victory for King County, the bill also lets the the County use a sales tax to fund drug and mental health court services. However, the bill did give the County some bad news: The bill iced the utility tax increase King County had been seeking for human services.
2. The House is queued up to vote on the education reform bill that the Senate passed on Thursday afternoon. The cafeteria in the basement of the legislature building is packed with education advocates this morning wearing their "It's Basic" buttons. The reform bill expands the definition of "Basic Education" to include early learning for low-income kids and a graduation requirement of 24 basic credits.
3. So far so good on the high-risk gambit Green legislators put into play on Friday in the House (see this morning's Morning Fizz): Today, the Senate refused to concur with the poison pill House version of the renewable energy bill. Now, with the crazy GOP amendment allowing all hydro to count as a renewable resource out of the way (which was a complete affront to the voter-approved initiative) the question is this: Will the conference bill stick to the initial compromise that was struck in March, or will I-937 still get watered down in conference by allowing a few more utilities to get out of the renewable resources goal? That's the fear of some Green lobbyists.