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Tag: Joe Zarelli


Wednesday’s dueling press conferences showed just how far Legislature is from a budget deal

I knew they were in trouble when both sides used the same wording to describe what they have done to reach a deal.

At a morning press conference Wednesday, House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said they hadn’t been spending much time on the budget because “we’ve been negotiating a set of reform bills that move significantly toward their position.”

Later at their own presser, the Republican/Democrat coalition in the Senate responded that they’d been doing most of the giving.

“If you are not getting something, you just keep moving to the other side,” said Sen. Joe Zarelli, the GOP budget

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Bipartisan Senate deal emerges on 2011 budget cuts

There are big differences between the House and Senate over how to deal with the budget shortfall through June. The House would cut more from K-12 schools, while the Senate would take more from universities. The Senate would end cash grants to disabled people, while the House would end subsidized health insurance for poor adults.

But the biggest difference may be the lineup of supporters. The House passed its plan with all Republicans voting no. Senate budget writers have reached a bipartisan deal.

The result of the deal is the supplemental budget plan Senate Democrats released today. It

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GOP Sens. Mike Carrell, Joe Zarelli offer fraud-fighting bills

Bars, liquor stores, strip clubs, gun dealers.

Those are some of the places where cash assistance to the poor could no longer be used under a bill unveiled today by Sen. Mike Carrell of Lakewood, who says Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, the digital-age version of food stamps, are being abused.

Carrell wants to make it a gross misdemeanor to use EBT cards in selected locations, and prevent the cards from being used to withdraw cash out of state.

A bill by fellow Republican Sen. Joe Zarelli tries a different tack on the cards, which allow access to cash and food help from a variety of government programs. Zarelli would limit cash withdrawals on the cards to $50 per month. Transactions like rent payments would have to be set up through the government.

By keeping nearly all payments electronic, the state could track and audit them.

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Senate OKs tax break for server farms

The first floor vote came today for a proposed tax break for data centers that has been waiting in the wings.

The goal is to lure server farms to eastern Washington. A bill would allow technology companies to pay no sales tax when they build the centers in rural counties. All but seven counties are considered rural.

The Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill, 39-4.

Senators rejected amendments that would have allowed the tax break only for counties with higher-than-average unemployment.That would have added Pierce County, where work has started on a data center, and a couple of

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Senators have it both ways on prison closure

The senators who proposed and backed the budget amendment to close McNeil Island prison have also signed on to a letter urging McNeil be kept open.

What’s more, the letter calls for the Vancouver-area senators’ local prison, which they pushed to save, to be downsized.

Here’s the sequence of events: The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved the amendment Friday night to close McNeil and avoid closing the less expensive Larch Correctional Center in Yacolt. Sen. Craig Pridemore of Vancouver proposed the amendment and Sen. Joe Zarelli of Ridgefield defended it.

The full Senate gave its approval with no debate on the prison plan, but Pierce County’s delegation, upset about the prospect of losing jobs at McNeil, fired off a letter to Majority Leader Lisa Brown. (The House delegation did the same to Speaker Frank Chopp. You can read both letters here.)

A couple of names stand out on the letter: Zarelli and Pridemore’s.

They signed it even though the letter says, of Pridemore’s amendment:

In the Ways and Means committee the budget was amended to fully fund the Larch facility and totally close the McNeil facility. We question the logic of this decision.

After questioning their own logic, the senators go on to request that parts of Larch be closed:

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Senate panel: Close McNeil Island prison

Senators are moving to close McNeil Island Corrections Center.

The island prison would close by June 30, 2011, under a change Friday night to Senate Democrats’ budget plan, which originally called for downsizing the prison to move out nearly half of its 1,200 inmates.

The budget could be up for a vote on the Senate floor within hours.

The hand that taketh away from McNeil also giveth to Larch Corrections Center near Vancouver. The original Senate plan called for closing Larch and the House wants to downsize it, but the new proposal approved Friday by the Senate Ways and Means

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