They’re running out of time in Olympia. The news today focuses on the Legislature’s remaining unfinished business, which we addressed in our weekly newsletter. The major outstanding issues are the state capital budget and a fix to the Hirst water rights decision. Also potentially in the mix is an attempt to override the governor’s veto of manufacturing tax relief.
Lawmakers in Olympia, who have pushed themselves into a record-long legislative season, remain deadlocked over a two-year capital budget and a bill to address the state Supreme Court’s Hirst ruling over rural water rights.
Senate Republicans effectively want to roll back the Hirst decision, which stopped drilling of certain domestic water wells and put the damper on some rural home construction.
GOP lawmakers, who control the Senate, have said they won’t move a final capital budget forward without an agreement that solves the problem they say was created by Hirst.
Democrats, meanwhile, insist the two bills be considered separately, and that Republicans pass a capital budget, which has near-unanimous support on both sides of the aisle.
“I hope that the Republicans do not tie the capital budget to a veto override on this manufacturing-tax credit,” said Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, one of the capital budget negotiators. “There’s been some indication that some members might want to do that.”
A veto override would require a two-thirds majority vote in each chamber.
The story does a good job of explaining the current impasse, which lawmakers hope to resolve before time runs out Thursday.
It would be unprecedented for the state to go without a capital budget. It funds classroom construction, improvements at state mental hospitals and prisons and myriad local projects. It also funds environmental clean-up.
The story, from July 14, concludes with a grim observation.
The standoff shows no signs of ending.
But deadlines have a way of spurring action, so a resolution may still be possible.
The News Tribune’s coverage of the deadlock provides reasons for optimism and for concern.
State Rep. Steve Tharinger, a Sequim Democrat who chairs the House Capital Budget Committee, said Friday he was “guardedly” optimistic a capital budget would get passed before the Legislature’s third special session ends.
Lawmakers might adjourn for the year if negotiators aren’t close to a solution to the water-rights debate by Thursday, July 20, however.
Sen. Judy Warnick, a Republican from Moses Lake, said passing a capital budget by then remains a lofty goal given differences on the water ruling, known as the Hirst decision, and bad blood created last week when Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed tax breaks for manufacturers passed in the state’s operating budget. Republicans and House Democrats had agreed to the cuts as part of a compromise.
“We all want the capital budget, most of us want Hirst fixed, but because of what happened with the veto,” Warnick said, there are “some trust issues.”