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Morning Wire: Legislators on the move, Sports betting, Universal health care

Four quick administrative items. First, we release our Topical Agenda this week for the 2019 Re-Wire Policy Conference coming up on December 10th. We’d be thrilled to have you register to be with us, and pricing is still cheap! Second, this email will return to a weekly distribution next month as we gear up for the looming session. Third, don’t forget to sign up for our Daily Wire, which gives you a run down of our reporting every morning. Lastly, welcome Michael Goldberg to the Wire reporting team!  You’ll see his byline often in the days ahead.

With help from Emily Boerger
and Michael Goldberg

1. Clean air agency draft rule released

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency released a clean fuel standard draft rule last week that would impact transportation fuels supplied or sold in the Puget Sound region. The agency’s effort to create a clean fuel standard comes after a bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation fuels stalled in the 2019 legislative session.

The draft rule sets more ambitious emission reduction targets than the statewide bill, aiming for a 26% reduction in carbon intensity of transportation fuels by 2030, dwarfing the bill’s target of 10% before 2028. A 90-day public comment period on the draft rule began last week; PSCAA will consider action on a final rule no sooner than Feb 27, 2020.

2. Movement in the legislature

On Monday, Rep. Sherry Appleton announced her retirement after serving 16 years in the House. She will, however, remain in the House until her successor is sworn in January, 2021. The replacement for Sen. Barbara Bailey, who announced her retirement in August, will be chosen this Friday by county commissioners from the three counties in the 10th LD. The Whidbey News-Times reports there are three candidates up for the job — Ron Muzzall, a farm administrator who was selected first by the Republican PCOs, Christine Cribb, and Sara Hyatt. 

There is also recent movement within the legislature. Sen. Emily Randall, who is headed into her second year in the legislature, was voted Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, replacing the recently retired Guy Palumbo. Newly appointed Sen. Derek Stanford will serve as Vice Chair on the committee. Sen. Liz Lovelett, who is on the ballot for a special election to represent the 40th LD, was voted to serve as Vice Chair of the Environment, Energy & Technology Committee. 

3. Interim meeting on sports betting

After a 2017 Supreme Court decision made sports betting legal, states around the country have charged ahead with legislation aimed at laying the foundation for sports betting markets. Legal sports betting is already available in 13 states; legislation is either recently passed or pending in 30 others, Washington among them.

Washington’s bill introduced by Rep. Eric Pettigrew stalled in the appropriations committee last session. In a recent Washington State Gambling Commission meeting, representatives from the MLB and the Seattle Mariners set forth the terms they believe are essential for establishing a sports betting market that works for both leagues and regulators. Rep. Pettigrew plans to introduce another version of the bill in the upcoming session.

4. Universal health care work group meets

Members of the Universal Health Care Work Group – established in 2019 through HB 1109 – held their first meeting at the end of September. The group discussed potential frameworks for reaching universal coverage, looked at other states’ reform efforts, and touched on potential strategies to increase the insured rate in the state.

The meeting’s discussed included insurance mandates, state-funded subsidies to lower cost of coverage in the individual market, and extending Medicaid coverage to presently ineligible groups such as undocumented immigrants. 

5. ICYMI: Rep. Schmick calls out L&I

Rep. Joe Schmick is calling out the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries after the department fined the City of Pullman $2,700 for violations that took place during their fire department’s rescue of 22 people during the city’s April flood. According to the city, the fines relate to safety violations while firefighters used a front-end loader in their rescue efforts, as captured in the image above.

Schmick says he intends to write a letter to the head of L&I and Gov. Inslee about the fines, stating “I’m appalled and embarrassed that our state government would seek to fine our first responders doing their jobs during an emergency situation. This is a critical issue. Do we want our firemen and women, and other first responders looking over their shoulders during emergency situations, thinking they could be fined if they used this technique or that piece of equipment?”

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