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Morning Wire: Future of the GOP, Ross Hunter, Fiscal committee cutoff

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With help from Michael Goldberg

1. What passed before the fiscal committee cutoff  

The Capital Gains Tax bills (SB 5096/HB 1496) and Working Families Tax Credit bills (HB 1297/SB 5387) are the centerpieces of the slate of progressive revenue bills this session. Democratic legislators say they will work to pass the proposals before the House of Origin Cutoff on March 9th. Why now? Rep. Tana Senn says childcare deserts are costing working class families $14 billion a year, and a large portion of the capital gains revenue will be used to that end.  

The fiscal committee cutoff, or the last day for bills with a potential budget impact to clear their respective committees, was yesterday. The House passed 84 bills in the Appropriations Committee, 25 in Finance, 25 in Transportation and 9 in Capital Budget. In the Senate Committees subject to yesterday’s cutoff, 95 bills passed in Ways & Means and 18 bills passed in Transportation. 

2.  WA Republicans path forward: The factions 

Loren Culp’s loss in 2020 marked the 10th consecutive for Republican gubernatorial candidates. It’s the longest current string of gubernatorial losses of any party in the country. Division and faction is a part of the story of these losses, long an undercurrent of Republican politics at the state and national levels. It’s increasingly coming into the open now in the state. 

Reporter Michael Goldberg has been talking with Republicans across the party’s ideological spectrum to get a sense of how each faction is thinking about charting a path forward. In this first installment, Goldberg surveys the damaged relationships coming out of the election season, and how that may have strengthened divisions between what he identifies as “Traditional,” “Institutional” and “Mainstream” Republicanism.

3. Q&A: What DCYF’s Ross Hunter sees in the pandemic

Secretary of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families Ross Hunter has kept a close eye on indicators related to child welfare over the course of the pandemic. In this interview, Hunter discusses child welfare, youth incarceration and learning loss in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Normally we get 120,000 calls a year on the [child abuse] hotline. It’s seasonal. We tend to get big bulges right after school vacations because teachers are mandatory reporters. Teachers went away in March last year. The calls to the hotline dropped by 50-60 percent. They came back up a little bit and settled at about 40 percent down. That has translated into fewer opportunities for us to go and provide resources that might be having stress.”

For advocates who recall Hunter’s sometimes acerbic wit while he was a legislator, you’ll enjoy his thoughts on the challenge of navigating the logistics of this year’s session: “It’s like hell.” 

4. Q&A: Rep. Bateman on the intersection of health, housing

Intersectionality is the through line in housing and health care policy legislation this session, says Rep. Jessica Bateman. As Vice Chair of the Health Care and Wellness Committee, Bateman has helped shepherd several key bills that are still alive, including HB 1477 (implementing the national 988 system), HB 1086 (creating the state office of behavioral health consumer advocacy) and HB 1218 (quality of life for residents in long-term care facilities). 

In an interview with health care reporter Sydney Kurle, Bateman discussed how efforts to strengthen Washington’s social safety net can help deliver Whole Person Care in a more coordinated manner. A freshman representative and former Olympia City Councilmember, Bateman was also the first in her family to graduate from college. She discussed how her single-mother’s public sector union job made that feat possible.

5. Senate floor action: what you missed and what to expect 

During three days of floor action last week, the Senate passed 14 bills. Two of those bills have already passed the House and are on their way to Governor Inslee’s desk. The remaining 12 are headed to the House for final passage. Only thee of the 14 bills passed largely along party lines. The rest passed with moderate to sweeping bipartisan majorities. Six of the bills had at least one Republican prime sponsor. This isn’t unusual, particularly early in the session when issues are less contentious. 

Floor action picks up again today as the Senate will work to pass legislation over the next two weeks ahead of the March 9 house of origin cutoff. Majority Democrats say these bills will focus on COVID recovery, climate change, health care, equity, housing and police accountability  Floor will begin at 10 a.m. each day, with afternoon and evening sessions to follow at approximately 1:30 and 5 p.m.

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