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Archives: May 2011

May
26th

Sine die at 10:26 p.m., fundraising at 12:01?

Gov. Chris Gregoire looked stunned, and who wouldn’t have tonight – whatever the question? It was an intense series of legislative sessions that ran 135 days. Finally at 10:26 p.m., the House and Senate adjourned “sine die,” formally ending the torment for 147 lawmakers and the governor.

Jerry Cornfield of The Herald in Everett pointed out that the freeze on campaign fundraising by statewide elected officials and lawmakers ends at midnight. So is Gregoire getting ready to fire up any fundraising activity?

“You can bet I’ve given that zero thought,” she said. And she called it a night.

Read

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May
25th

Lawmakers adjourn sine die at 10:26 p.m.

There were some things they didn’t get to before ending their 135 days of work.

A fee bill to fund affordable housing, a priority of Speaker Frank Chopp, didn’t make it.

Several extensions of tax breaks — for film and TV production, for server farms, and for newspapers — were being held up by Chopp in return, lobbyists said. All of them ran out of time.

And another set of fees, intended to pay for transportation, died in the Senate.

The $70 million in fees on drivers ran into Senate Republicans’ opposition, and apparently Senate Democrats’ inaction.

“It’s really

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May
25th

Science test for HS grads is delayed to 2015

The House and Senate passed a bill tonight that postpones a science-test requirement for graduation from high-school and gets rid of a duplicative test that would have been on the books in 2013. The high-stakes test in science now is delayed until 2015 as a graduation requirement.

The House vote was 86-10 and the Senate vote was 41-3, and the bill, which saves upward of $20.5 million, goes to Gregoire for signing.

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May
25th

Senate votes 34-13 to send budget bill to Gregoire

A $32.2 billion state operating budget is on its way to Gov. Chris Gregoire for signing. The state Senate voted 34-to-13 this evening to approve the bipartisan spending document.

Lawmakers were acting quickly on bills as they try to end their 30-day special session and go home later tonight.

The vote to pass Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1087 came one night after the House approved it on a sharply partisan 54-to-42 vote.

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May
25th

UPDATE: Agency-consolidation bill goes to governor

A brokered agreement to consolidate parts of five state agencies into two new ones passed the state House on a bipartisan 54-to-42 vote this evening, giving lawmakers a chance to get out of town within a few hours.

The controversial measure, which takes away some state employee bargaining rights in the new agencies, passed despite 36 of 56 House Democrats voting against it. The Senate quickly followed suit on a 31-to-15 vote that also relied on Republican support. And it goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire for signing.

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May
25th

Drivers license price increase dropped; bill would fund Pierce Transit

State lawmakers have dropped the idea of raising the cost of a driver’s license, but other fees on drivers may still go up if the Senate acts tonight.

The House today approved $70 million in new fees that would pay for ferries, buses, the State Patrol and other transportation needs.

It goes mostly to spending items that don’t benefit from gas-tax money and are facing major shortfalls. Eighteen percent would go to public transportation, including $1.5 million for Pierce Transit.

The money wouldn’t nearly fill Pierce Transit’s $51 million two-year budget gap, which it is solving through 35 percent reductions in bus service starting next month.

But it would reduce those cuts, said Jessyn Farrell of Pierce Transit. “This does allow us to put some trips back in where people can use it,” she said. Read more »

May
25th

Democratic Sen. Rockefeller is retiring in June

State Sen. Phil Rockefeller, who played a key role in the agreement phasing out the use of coal at the TransAlta power plant in Centralia this year, said today he is leaving office in June.

He is taking Gov. Chris Gregoire’s appointment to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, according to an announcement by the Senate Democratic Caucus.

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May
25th

Projects in the capital budget

Here’s what the state will spend soon on building projects, according to the capital-construction budget that was made public today and received approval in a pair of votes on the House floor.

  • $216 million for community college facilities. Clover Park Technical College receives $20.8 million for a facility to house all of its health classes. South Puget Sound Community College gets $30.2 million to create a Learning Resource Center in a renovated building.
  • $280 million for four-year university facilities, including $9.2 million to renovate The Evergreen State College’s Communications Laboratory Building and $5 million to renovate an Evergreen State science lab.
  • $730 million for public schools projects, including a $7.1 million expansion of the new vocational skills center in Frederickson used to teach students around Pierce County. An old Safeway store would be renovated and used for training students in construction and aerospace trades.
  • $1.5 million for the Hilltop Regional Health Center, which Community Health Care plans to build on Tacoma’s Martin Luther King Jr. Way using mainly federal stimulus money.
  • $250,000 for expansion of American Lake Veterans Golf Course.
  • $390,000 for a pier in Gig Harbor.
  • $1.5 million for development tied to mass transit in Puyallup.
  • $380,000 for a South Tacoma community-center playground. Read more »