A Thurston County Superior Judge has thrown out a rule written by the state Liquor Control Board that aimed to protect the role of liquor distributors in Washington’s brave new world of privatized booze sales. It’s one small step for the coalition of restaurateurs and retailers who pushed Washington’s precedent-setting Initiative 1183 back in 2011, which closed the state’s liquor stores and aimed to establish a competitive marketplace unlike any other in the country. But a pitched battle is under way in the Legislature and will continue when lawmakers return.
Republicans said Gov. Jay Inslee is doing the state a disservice by letting his people go and easing up on the pressure for a session-ending deal. But what was interesting to see in the press releases from the Democratic side of the aisle was not a word from the House Ds, whose 55 votes will give the governor muscle. They’re letting the governor do the talking. Here’s Washington State Wire’s press-release roundup — a frank and open exchange of views about a session that really hasn’t come to a conclusion.
Gov. Jay Inslee calls a special session for May 13, a curious decision that removes all pressure for lawmakers to reach a deal on the state budget anytime soon. In a news conference Sunday night after the final gavels fell to end the 105-day regular legislative session, the governor said he expects budget negotiators for the Democratic House and the Republican-leaning Senate to make significant progress while rank-and-file lawmakers return home for R&R. More important: The governor appears to be signaling he hopes to be a player, not a referee.
On the penultimate day of the Legislature’s 105-day regular session, not a whole lot was going on. But at least lawmakers were owning up to the truth everyone has known deep down for more than a week. There’s no possible way they’re going to get done on time, and they’re going to be coming back for a special session. Exactly when is the only remaining question.
Members of the Senate Majority Coalition staged a pre-emptive strike on Gov. Jay Inslee Thursday, blasting plans for a layoff between the regular session and an all-but-certain special session – even before anything has been announced. They say that if Inslee allows lawmakers to go home Monday, not only will he let up pressure for a budget deal — he’ll also be giving Democrats a chance to raise money for political campaigns. Trouble with that argument is it goes both ways. Senate Republicans have planned a fund-raiser Monday.
While the state House staged a lengthy debate Wednesday on a $900 million tax bill that staked out the Democratic position on the budget, the real drama was playing out in the Capitol’s conference rooms. Gov. Jay Inslee declared that the Legislature must swallow a set of highly partisan policy bills in addition to any deal it works out on the budget – and Republicans choked. You better believe there’s going to be a special session. But the real question is whether there’s going to be any compromising going on.
Top Republicans say consensus seems to be forming around Dan Kristiansen as new leader of the House Republican Caucus. A week after longtime minority leader Richard DeBolt stepped down from the leadership post due to health reasons, Republicans have set a reorganizational meeting for May 10. But acting leader Joel Kretz says Kristiansen’s support seems firm enough that some members now are saying the meeting ought to be held sooner rather than later.
The fizz has gone out of a House tax proposal: A new version of the tax bill voted out of the House Finance Committee Tuesday ditches a plan to retain a ‘temporary’ tax on beer that had been set to expire in June. That and other changes whittle down the House Democrats’ original tax proposal from $1.3 billion to $900 million. And while the numbers don’t match the spending bill that passed the House last week, it probably doesn’t matter — there’s still plenty of negotiating to do before this session finally wraps.
Leaders of the state’s Latino community, fed up with what they say is disinterest from state government, say they are forming a new organization to promote Hispanic-community interests. Where most talk in political circles these days is about harnessing the Hispanic vote, the new Washington Latino Roundtable plans to lead — and it could have a major effect. Organizers say Democrats and Republicans might want to take notice. For once.