Today is Tuesday, day 44 of a 105-day session.
RALLY FOR WISCONSIN
At least 1,000 green-shirted members of the Washington Federation of State Employees rallied in the Rotunda of the Legislative Building on Monday to support their equals in Wisconsin.
There, several days of rallies and strikes have met a plan to curtail collective bargaining rights of both state and local workers.
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“From Washington green to Wisconsin red,” shouted Olympia Democratic Rep. Chris Reykdal to those filling the Rotunda floor, stairs and balconies. “Welcome to the capital of labor.”
Hand-lettered signs were held up by workers rallying on what is a state holiday (though many will also be off work today due to budget-related furloughs).
“Worker rights are human rights,” read one. “Today WI, Tomorrow WA,” read another. And in reference to the Democratic senators who fled the state to block action on the bargaining bill: “Free the Wisconsin 14.”
At one point, recorded music of the University of Wisconsin fight song “On Wisconsin” was played and ralliers sang from sheets distributed before hand.
Washington stands with you
We are proud state public servants
AFSCME Green and true
Go, Wisconsin! Fight Scott Walker!
We should make him flee!
‘Cuz we’re united coast to coast.
State lawmakers would have less money to spend on building projects in flush years and more money to spend on everything else in lean years under a proposal that has bipartisan Senate support.
Sens. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, want to reduce the debt limit in the state constitution from 9 percent of state revenues down to 7 percent.
That would force lawmakers to borrow less money, reining in the growing amount they spend paying interest on debt – now approaching $2 billion, lawmakers said. Every dollar they don’t have to spend on debt service is a dollar they can add to education, social services and other programs.
But the bill would provide a safety valve by cranking the limit back up to 9 percent in years like this one when the economy is suffering. (It would use the same trigger as the one for the state’s rainy day fund.)
Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, introduced Senate Bill 5843, which would end new entry into the college bound scholarship program, a state-sponsored scholarship program for low-income students.
Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, introduced Senate Bill 5844, which would change the financing structure for local infrastructure to structure it around five policy objectives: clean water, safe drinking water, storm water, economic development and local governments’ access to financing. Kilmer also introduced Senate Joint Resolution 8215, which would amend the constitution to reduce the state’s debt limit from 9 percent to 7 percent.
Sen. Jeff Baxter, R-Spokane Valley, introduced Senate Bill 5839, which would calculate increases in Washington’s minimum wage rate based on consumer prices rather than inflation.
The Children’s Alliance is holding a lobby day at the Legislative Building starting at 9 a.m. The United Food and Commercial Workers union is also having a lobby day on the Capitol Campus.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on Senate Bill 5021, which would strengthen campaign finance disclosure requirements in the state.
The committee is also scheduled to hear Senate Bill 5297, which would raise the filing fee for initiatives and referenda and Senate Joint Resolution 8206, which would amend the state constitution to require that money be put aside into a budget stabilization account when state government revenue is significantly higher than normal.
The House Ways and Means Committee will hear House Bill 1936, which would change the requirements under which a nonresident can get a Washington sales tax exemption. The effect of the changes would be to prevent residents of some Canadian provinces, including British Columbia, from getting a tax exemption.
Bills on the Senate calendar that could get a vote during floor session today include Senate Bill 5029, which would allow beer and wine tasting at farmers markets, and Senate Bill 5230, which would expand the Washington Conservation Corps and set up a Puget Sound Corps.
On the floor of the House, Representatives could vote on House Bill 1422, which would authorize the Department of Natural Resources to set up a pilot project to convert biomass into aviation fuel, and House Bill 1606, which would require all diesel sold in the state to contain at least 2 percent biodiesel.
The House could also vote on House Bill 1001, which would request that the state Supreme Court adopt rules about the way that people defending themselves against criminal sex abuse charges could question witnesses.
Compiled by Katie Schmidt.