Denizens of the Legislative Building are waiting to see whether a resolution will be reached on workers’ compensation in the next few days that would provide a way for lawmakers to finish their work and go home.
Whatever has happened so far this week in high-level meetings between legislative leaders and the governor on the topic, word hadn’t filtered down yet as of late Tuesday to lobbyists and rank-and-file legislators.
Union-friendly lawmakers had planned a press conference Tuesday morning, but legislative leaders asked them to call it off. There were rumors that a deal was imminent, but nothing materialized.
The two sides in the House remain divided on the Senate’s demand to allow injured workers to take a lump-sum payment to settle claims against their employers.
The settlements appear to have the votes to pass on the House floor. Rep. Chris Hurst, a conservative Enumclaw Democrat, says he thinks if House members were forced to vote, as many as 18 Democrats would join Republicans, easily passing the bill designed by business-friendly House Democrats. Even if his count is high, nine Democrats including Hurst have officially signed on in support of the bill, enough to squeak it through.
But as it turns out, the vote count inside House Democrats’ private caucus room is what counts. Rep. Tami Green, D-Lakewood, said a majority of House Democrats — 45 of the caucus’s 56 members — oppose the centrist Democrats’ bill. It won’t go to the floor with that kind of opposition, Green said: “It will blow up our caucus if that happens.” Read more »