Legislature Punts Education Funding Back to Supreme Court

The Joint Select Committee recently approved an education report detailing some actions taken by the Legislature in response to the ruling from the state’s Supreme Court that lawmakers are under-funding basic education. Whether or not the Court will consider the report adequate – which they likely won’t – is yet to be seen, though some experts claim that they have no legal means of enforcing the issue anyway.

After All the Fuss and Bother, an Unremarkable Session Comes to an End

You can say the 2014 legislative session started with low expectations, and it lived right up to them. Washington lawmakers ended their 60-day session just before midnight Thursday after passing a do-no-harm budget and a handful of policy bills of mostly modest import. As two months of caterwauling, fingerpointing and partisan debate finally came to an end, they could point to one big achievement: They managed to wrap it all up on schedule, with seven minutes to spare. Now the big problem. How do you sum up a session in which nothing much really happened?

As Vapers Organize, Legislature Scrambles to Impose New E-Cig Tax – ‘Compromise’ Proposal Even Higher Than the Original

E-cigarettes, the come-from-nowhere issue of the year, seem to have prompted one of the strangest “compromise” proposals in state legislative history. Lawmakers eager to slap a whopping tax on the burgeoning biz started with a plan that would have doubled the cost of “vaping.” Now the solons are floating what they call a compromise plan – which would quadruple it. Maybe it’s just a big stupid goof, but it demonstrates a lack of understanding about a business lawmakers are poised to snuff, perhaps the first truly effective way to get people to stop smoking.

E-Cigarettes Bring Heavy Breathing to Statehouse – House D Tax Proposal Would Nearly Double the Cost

New Thing in Nicotine Weans People From Smoking – Yet House Would Impose Punitive 75 Percent Tobacco Tax in Name of Health

On Saturday you’re going to see one of the most amazing protests ever at the statehouse — an angry crowd that actually fumes. E-cigarette users and sellers are planning to storm the Capitol to show what they think of a House Democratic tax plan that would nearly double the cost. And the issue poses one of the most delightful quandaries in ages — lawmakers are happy to punish the tobacco industry, but should they use taxes to snuff a burgeoning business that appears to offer a far-safer alternative? Like the old Camel ads said, e-cigarettes tickle the T-zone. T for throat. T for taste. And T for taxes.

Unusual House Budget Proposal Looks Big, but Really Isn’t That Different Than the Senate – Two Weeks of Head-Scratching Before Final Gavel

It’s maybe one of the most confusing budget proposals in state history — a plan from the House Democrats that looks big, but really isn’t. If the supplemental budget proposal released Wednesday by House Democrats was written the normal way, lawmakers could be sure that they would be spending all springtime in Olympia waiting for a deal to be negotiated. But most of it is a conversation-starter for next year’s big tax-and-education debate. At its core the House plan is pretty much like the Senate’s, and everything points to adjournment in two weeks.

Inslee Delivers Bad Word From D.C. – Legislature Better Pass Teacher Evaluation Bill, Despite Union Opposition

It is the kind of thing that makes strong Democrats gulp. They’re going to have to pass a teacher-evaluation bill over the opposition of the state teachers’ union, or else school districts are going to lose approximately $40 million in federal funding that now goes toward local education programs. Gov. Jay Inslee gave lawmakers the bad word from D.C. Tuesday: The feds aren’t going to bend the rules. But going against one of the most generous special interest groups in the state? Oh, my. What a terrible choice to have to make.

Senate Proposes a Skinny Supplemental Budget – Bipartisan Plan Shows On-Time Finish Possible

A skinny spending plan from the state Senate demonstrates there’s still plenty of bipartisanship in the Legislature’s upper chamber. But maybe the most important bipartisan agreement of all is the idea that everyone wants to go home on March 13. Controversial topics like the Supreme Court’s demand for $5 billion in increased education spending are ducked until next year, and not a single tax break was harmed in the writing of this bill. Will the House Democrats go along with it? There are only 16 days left to argue before the scheduled March 13 adjournment.

State Senate Gambled Vital Funds for Neediest Students

The state Senate went all-in on a bet Tuesday that will likely result in a big loss for students statewide, says Jana Carlisle of the Partnership for Learning in an op-ed piece that debuts here. By shooting down a teacher-evaluation bill that would allow school districts to continue spending the federal dollars they currently get, Senate Democrats are pinning their hopes to the idea that Washington’s congressional delegation can somehow rewrite a federal law. It is a battle they are likely to lose.

U.S. House Plans Clean Debt Bill Vote

House Republicans are abandoning their plan to tie a debt limit increase to a restoration of military pension cuts, and will instead try to pass a “clean” debt limit bill on Wednesday.

Another Year, Another Attack on Oil Industry – Effort to End ‘Tax Break’ Makes Refiners Target

It just wouldn’t be a legislative session without an attack on ‘Big Oil’ – or rather, an attempt to reach deeper into the pocket of the industry that green groups love to hate. Environmental groups, Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Jay Inslee are backing an effort to repeal a rather esoteric tax break enjoyed mainly by oil refiners that could mean a big hit on the biz, $30 million a year. But while this battle is being framed as an extension of the ever-popular war on loopholes, it’s really the latest chapter in a long-running crusade to raise taxes on oil.