Today is Wednesday, Feb. 27, the 45th day of the 105-day legislative session.
"From 1950 to 2008, Thurston County's lost about 90,000 acres of productive farm land, and we're trying to inch back."
-Sandra Romero, a Democratic Thurston County commissioner, testifying Tuesday in favor of House Bill 1437, which would let small farms of less than 5 acres qualify for favorable property tax treatment if they are generating at least $10,000 in farm income.
Industry and labor stood together Tuesday in favor of a bill extending tax breaks for pulp and paper mills’ use of wood waste as “hog fuel” for heat and electricity. House Bill 1663 was one in a long series of bills heard by the House Finance Committee as the Friday deadline for passing fiscal bills draws near.
A legislative audit found the tax break did not prove to generate jobs that made it worth extending beyond its expiration date in June, and it carries a $1.9 million price tag over two years if extended. But Rep. Steve Tharinger, the Democratic sponsor of the bill who represents the Olympic Peninsula, said it is important to keeping mills operating.
TODAY IN THE LEGISLATURE
Gov. Jay Inslee is signing the first bill of the 2013 session and also his first bill as governor at 1 p.m. today. Senate Bill 5147 deals with runaway youths and requires that unlicensed youth shelters and runaway programs provide information about the whereabouts of runaways to parents, police or the Department of Social and Health Services.
Seattle Seahawks football coach Pete Carroll will speak at the Legislature and also meet with Inslee. Carroll’s A Better Seattle group is teaming up with the Northwest Leadership Foundation to promote youth programs. Carroll is due at the Capitol at 9:30 a.m., appearing at 10 a.m. on the House floor and at 11:15 a.m. on the Senate floor. The Senate plans to adopt a resolution honoring the football team.
The House Finance Committee will take testimony at 8 a.m. on Substitute House Bill 1457, implementing a paid family and medical leave insurance plan.
Senate Law & Justice will hold a work session at 8:30 a.m. on the governance of the Washington State Bar Association and judicial agency budgets.
Senate Ways and Means plans hearings at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. on 18 bills, including Inslee’s climate change proposal, SB 5802. Also on tap is SB 5851, which creates a defined-contribution retirement option for public employees, and SB 5843, which requires that every new tax preference include an expiration date and statement of intent.
AROUND THE CAPITOL
The Christian Homeschool Network is bringing 400 people to Home Educators’ Day at the Capitol from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.Olympian staff