We’re changing the nature of our emails this week, shifting to a model more directly informed by the experience of Politico, Axios, and our sister publication, State of Reform. We are regularly iterating at the Wire, trying to find the right mix of commentary, news and analysis.
So, this week, we have 5 things we’re tracking in Washington State politics as we head into the last week of the legislative session. Hopefully, you’ll find some of the reporting and commentary helpful. As always, send us your news tips. Your emails come to my inbox and I read them all.
1. Budget positioning, NTIB, and “Michael Jordan”
With seven days left in Regular Session, Senate Democrats say the Majority Coalition Caucus still has 17 bills to pass to implement their budget (NTIB), down from 19 last week. Republicans point out that House Democrats haven’t voted on the key funding elements of their budget, like the Capital Gains Tax. Both sides are trying to maximize leverage while protecting members from spending political capital on votes they may not need to take. As former Sen. Bill Finkbeiner tells KNKX, he believes “more people are playing a role rather than solving a problem.”
The House Democrats have looked like they can often capitulate at this time of year on the big items of the budget. But that overlooks this nugget: “Frank Chopp is the Michael Jordan of politics.” Former Senator Rodney Tom says Chopp “can hold his breath the longest” during these final negotiations, and starts much farther to the left than reasonable, knowing that deals will get cut down the middle.
2. Rep. Hansen and internet privacy legislation
When Congress voted to loosen privacy restrictions on internet service providers (ISP), Rep. Drew Hansen decided to introduce his own legislation (HB 2200) to protect Washington residents’ privacy. And, he’s getting some national attention. But, he’s also getting bi-partisan support. His bill moved out of committee on a vote of 15-2 Friday morning.
We’ve had some coverage on the topic including this letter from US Telecom. Hansen tells us that telecom lobbyists are arguing that a state-based approach will create a patchwork of rules and regulations too complex for organizations to adhere to. His response: ” Um, shouldn’t you have thought about this ‘patchwork of state laws’ problem before you decided to block the uniform federal standard?”
3. Democrats vote to cut ST3 funding
Why did all of the House Democrats vote to cut transit funding last week? Our reporter, Kylie Walsh, pieces together some of the story. Back in November, voters approved Sound Transit 3, increasing car tab taxes, creating sticker shock for some. Both parties have been trying to find a way to appease voters and still fund public transportation. Last week, Democrats were united in support of a bill to return approximately $780 million to taxpayers, taking that money out of ST3’s budget and away from transit.
Constituents who voted for ST3 are not happy with their legislators as public transportation projects are now at risk. While the bill directs light rail to be the last project cut if funds run out, other needed public transportation projects, like commuter rail and bus services, could take the hit.
Though, as columnist John Wyble points out, constituents don’t seem to agree with the Republicans’ plan either.
4. 45th Senate race and Donald Trump
Jinyoung Lee Englund announced her candidacy for the open 45th Senate seat vacated from Sen. Andy Hill’s passing. She appears to be an impressive Republican candidate at first glance, stronger than what Republicans have been able to put forward in recent years in similar contested suburban battles.
She’ll take on Manka Dhingra, a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney at King County, who has secured an early endorsement from the King County Democrats. Dhingra has reported raising $200,000 since her February announcement from what appear to be primarily friends and family.
Republican turnout is down in other similar off-year special elections, both legislative and Congressional. Some suggest this is a “Trump effect,” where the President is turning off moderates. It’ll be an expensive, nasty campaign, and one columnist Keith Schipper says is everything former Senator Andy Hill wasn’t.
5. One light-hearted thing: #WALegSox
Rep. Laurie Jinkins is carrying on a recent tradition of capturing the socks of various legislators and lobbyists. It’s an impressive – and bi-partisan – collection. It’s captured on the Twitter hashtag #WALegSox.
She’s taken to including the hashtag #WymanRockstheSocks in support of Secretary of State Kim Wyman as well. Wyman has asked that folks post photos of socks to social media to stay in touch with her while she works through her cancer treatment.