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Morning update: Day 31

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Feb. 9, 2011 at 8:00 am |
February 9, 2011 9:22 am

Good morning. With voters rejecting a sales tax to fund Pierce Transit, eyes turn to Olympia, where the House Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on a different tax for mass-transit agencies.

To help pay for buses, agencies in King, Snohomish and Pierce would get temporary authority under HB 1536 to charge $30 when drivers renew their car tabs. Pierce Transit has downplayed the authorization’s significance, saying it’s looking for more permanent funding like the sales tax on Tuesday’s ballot. 

Pierce Transit could always come back to voters for a smaller sales tax increase, but the large margin of defeat could make Rep. Marko Liias‘s bill look more attractive. At the same time, the statement by voters might scare lawmakers otherwise inclined to approve the $30 charge.

Elsewhere today:

  • With legal and illegal immigrants becoming a major target of proposed budget cuts to adult and children’s health insurance programs, Washington immigrants’ rights groups will rally at the capitol campus. Groups said they expected about 300 people to come. The groups are criticizing cuts to state services and bills that would require immigration status checks before giving out drivers’ licenses.
  • Senate Judiciary hears SB 5456, which would eliminate the death penalty in Washington. A similar bill introduced in 2009 and again in 2010 never made it out of committee.
  • The House will have floor action, so House members could put forward a counter-proposal to the Senate on unemployment insurance taxes and benefits.
  • House State Gov’t hears HB 1668, which would require that paid signature gatherers register with the state. It’s a version of a bill that has been tried before in Olympia as Democrats push back against professional initiative promoters like Tim Eyman who put them in fiscal handcuffs.
  • The same committee hears HB 1732, which would tighten campaign finance disclosure requirements in the state, and could vote on HB 1326, which would authorize banks to have drawings and give out prizes to people who have savings accounts.
  • House Higher Ed hears HB 1795, letting higher education institutions in the state set their own tuition rates for four years. A percentage of that money would have to go to middle-class scholarships. The committee is also scheduled to vote on HB 1586, which would allow branch campuses of the UW and WSU to offer doctoral degree programs.
  • Senate Financial Institutions hears two bills dealing with payday lenders. One, SB 5547, would remove the cap on the number of small loans a person can take out per year and the other, SB 5600, would impose tougher licensing rules on lenders.
  • Senate Economic Development hears SB 5637, which would set up an online system for matching students with employers looking for interns.
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