What a busy 105 days the legislative session has been. We have some recaps for you below, as well as an insider’s account of covering the session from Sara Gentzler.
And, after 173 posts, stories, and interviews at the Wire this year – so far – we’re going to take the next two weeks off from content at the Wire. We’ll catch our breath and get back at it for the interim period. So, until then, here are a few things we think are worth reading for your weekly brief.
With help from Emily Boerger and Sara Gentzler
1. A big session for Gov. Inslee
From a public option to 100% clean energy, Inslee went 14 for 18 on bills he requested passing the full Legislature this session. It has shaped up to be Inslee’s best legislative session since he first took residence in the Governor’s mansion.
“There is a time to be humble, and this is not one of them,” Inslee said at a Sine Die media availability. Wire reporters Sara Gentzler and Emily Boerger offer this breakdown of Inslee’s legislative successes. However, Herald columnist Jerry Cornfield argues that “Republicans will quietly acknowledge Inslee’s cross country campaign jaunts are probably a reason it’s been a generally civilized session.”
2. Survey: How are we doing at the Wire?
Three minutes. That’s all we ask of you…
We’ve had a big 2019 so far at the Washington State Wire. In the first four months of the year, we’ve published 110 original and independent stories on Olympia, the legislature, and state policy. In addition, we added 8 videos, 13 Morning Wire posts, 10 columns, and 10 guest commentaries. We even threw in 22 press releases that we thought were worth knowing about. In sum, that’s 173 posts at the Washington State Wire, full of scoops and insider content that you won’t find anywhere else.
But, if we’re not providing you direct value, then we aren’t doing our job. So, we’d really like to hear directly from you about how we’re doing. If you could take this 3-minute survey, we’d appreciate getting your feedback on how well we are serving you, our customers, and our Washington State policy community.
Thanks in advance for taking the time to help us out!
3. Where the budgets, broadly, landed
After a weekend of overnight floor sessions, lawmakers ultimately passed a $52.4 billion operating budget with over $800 million in new revenue from new or increased taxes, a $9.98 billion transportation budget, and a $5.1 billion capital budget.
The operating budget passed just ahead of Sine Die, as did another resilient sticking-point: a levy lid-lift bill. Republican legislators, and at least one Democrat, Sen. Mark Mullet, have been vocal in criticizing the process as rushed and opaque.
The operating budget passed almost entirely along party lines, while both of the other budgets had strong bipartisan support. No capital gains tax and no carbon tax are found in the budgets this biennium, despite two strong Democratic majorities and much discussion throughout session surrounding both.
4. End-of-session Q&As: Becker, Das, & Jinkins
With the session winding down, Sara Gentzler caught up with three lawmakers to get their takes on what happened in the last 105 days. Sen. Randi Becker talked about her wins in telemedicine and what comes next and freshman legislator Sen. Mona Das reflected on her first session in the Legislature.
Rep. Laurie Jinkins expanded on what the Long-Term Care Trust Act’s passage means to her and Washingtonians (and the backstory on her #walegsox Twitter presence). The News Tribune recently reported that Jinkins is exploring a run for Speaker—she’s coming off of a strong session, with eight of her bills passing the full Legislature.
5. What it was like covering the 2019 session
Of the 173 posts at the Wire since January 1, Reporter Sara Gentzler had her name on 131 of them. She’s been a machine in this her first year covering the Washington State Legislative Building. Her work includes the first coverage of the Long-Term Care Trust Act, what one legislator called “the best coverage on the public option,” and nine extended Q&A interviews with legislators.
So, we asked her what it was like covering her first legislative session. It’s a good read from one perspective covering legislative politics. “I’ve never heard the words ‘frankly,’ ‘robust,’ or ‘percolating’ — to name three — more in my life.”