3 Days Left Until the Legislature Adjourns

The major tax increase bills are having a tough time getting the votes to pass. Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown said today that the income tax bill is dead for this year. The News Tribune is reporting that there are not enough votes in the House to pass any tax referendum this year. Since they are referenda, they only need a simple majority to get through the legislature. But, there are not enough Democrats supporting them to send the taxes to the voters.

That leaves SB 6173, to change the way contractors collect and remit sales tax. The fiscal note was revised yesterday from $40 million the first two years to $100 million, $450 million over the next 6 years. The AIA|WA, contractors and retailers worked today with the House to significantly improves the bill. All direct impacts on architecture firms were removed. The process was improved for contractors and retailers. Much work will need to be done on the rulemaking. But, it is a dramatically better bill. The House passed it with bipartisan support.

On the budget, the House and Senate Democrats reached an agreement last night on the operating budget. The House Democrats announced today that the operating budget will be voted on Friday and the Capital Budget on Saturday. No word on the timing of the final vote on the transportation budget; likely it will be Saturday or Sunday. They have not released any public documents on any of the three major budgets – possibly late tonight. So, we don’t know what’s in and out of them. We are especially interested to know if the design projects are back in the capital budget. House Chair Hans Dunshee has been fighting for more design projects. The question is whether the Senate Chair Margarita Prentice or the lead on the capital side, Senator Karen Fraser, will agree to restore the design projects.

The House late last night passed the bill to fund the deep bore replacement tunnel for Alaskan Way in Seattle. Since the bill was amended it will go back to the Senate for final passage, which is expected to concur. There were some anti-Seattle amendments attached, namely requiring Seattle taxpayers to fund any cost overruns on the project (even the state-funded portions). But, that was the only way it could get out of the House. Interestingly, Chopp was the lead proponent of that little amendment. After it passed, he voted against the bill, anyway.

Rep. Mike Armstrong (R-Wenatchee) was hospitalized last night after suffering a mild heart attack. He had surgery today to put in a stint. The word is that he is doing well. Please keep him in your prayers.

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