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Morning Wire: Capital gains tax, Sen. Randi Becker, Joshua Freed

“Committee Days” last week held a few nuggets about what may be lined up for the 2020 session.  And, the governor’s race starts to pick up a little steam. Both the politics and policy implications of 2020 are already here in the fall of 2019.  We feature some of them for you in this week’s newsletter, and – as always – online at the Wire.

With help from Emily Boerger

1. Finance Committee talks capital gains

A capital gains tax is expected to come up in the 2020 legislative session. Last week’s House Finance Committee spent considerable time thinking through the application of a state capital gains tax in regions of the state with “federal opportunity zones.” Those zones provide a tax benefit for investing in hard hit communities, and hold those investments over the long term.

The key takeaway from the committee’s work is that the thinking related to a capital gains tax is sophisticated and nuanced. This is a tax policy that isn’t being driven in a reactionary, knee-jerk way. Rather, after many years of talking about such a tax, it would appear the question in 2020 will not be “if” but “how”.

2. Health policy in the 2020 session

The House Health Care & Wellness Committee also met during committee days last week. Importantly, the content of these meetings can sometimes foreshadow topics that will be teed up in the legislative session. If that’s the case, look for work on PBM reform, on supporting transitions from acute to post-acute care, and possibly some additional work related to long term care within the 1115 waiver framework.

Other health-related policy to be on the lookout for includes legislation related to universal health care. The Health Care Authority announced that the “Universal Health Care Work Group” will host its first meeting on Friday. The group will meet over the next 15 months to develop recommendations to the Legislature on how to “create, implement, maintain, and fund a universal health care system.”

3. Joshua Freed puts $500,000 in his campaign for gov

Joshua Freed, a newly announced Republican candidate for governor, told me recently that “I put half a million dollars in my race yesterday. I have $250,000 in commitments, and $1.5 million personal support” for his candidacy. Those are big numbers this early in the campaign season.  When they show up on PDC reports, those could start to winnow the field of four.

But, the field may not yet be set. I asked Rep. JT Wilcox if the ultimate party nominee for Governor is likely to be one of the four candidates that have already announced.  His answer was telling: “I think that there’s a possibility that there will be some more people in that. And I don’t know of anyone for sure, but I think that there’s the sense that, there are people that think that we don’t have the final choice yet.”

4. Legislative leaders dish on the dynamics of serving

Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, and House Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Timm Ormsby offered their thoughts on state health policy during a keynote conversation at the 2019 Inland Northwest State of Reform Health Policy Conference.

The three legislative leaders discussed the dynamics of the Washington State Legislature, the state of politics in Washington, health care visions for Republicans and Democrats, and where the policy conversation may be heading next. A video and summary of their comments is available here

5. Sen. Becker calls for consequences for San. Das

In June, freshman Senator Mona Das claimed there were racist, sexist, and hateful comments made during closed-door meetings of the Senate Democratic caucus. Findings from a formal inquiry released last week found no evidence of these comments. 

In response, Senate Republican Caucus Chair Randi Becker sent a letter to Sen. John McCoy, who chairs the Facilities and Operations Committee, calling for a discussion on the consequences Das should face. Becker argues that Das violated the Senate Policy on Appropriate Workplace Conduct through the allegations and recommends four consequences to be considered by the F&O Committee at its next meeting. 

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