Democrats didn’t quite run the entire table

  • Wednesday, May 8, 2019 12:13pm
  • Opinion
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

Democratic lawmakers greeted the end of the 2019 legislative session with warm embraces, wide smiles, and for some, irrepressible joy.

There was no visible residual from hours of hand-wringing and death stares between their majority party leaders in the House and Senate preceding the final gavel.

They were in the mood for a celebratory victory lap. And the Inslees — Governor Jay and Mrs. Trudi — joined them for the jaunt minutes after adjournment because the chief executive had a darn fine session too.

In 105 days, Democrats carried out the most enthusiastic expansion of state government in a decade, if not longer, that touches the entire cycle of life, and beyond.

There’s going to be an education program developed for toddlers, expanded opportunities for high school students to learn a trade, a state managed fund for long-term care, and a legal right to be composted upon death. That doesn’t even scratch the surface of the breadth of new laws and expanded services approved this year.

Inslee, surrounded by Democratic legislators at a post-Sine Die news conference early Monday, captured everyone’s sentiment when he said, “There is a time to be humble. This is not one of them.”

But Democrats didn’t run the entire table. Here are five things they didn’t do and may take up next year.

Capital Gains: Progressive Democrats keep trying to tax the rich. And they keep getting foiled by their fiscally moderate friends in the Senate Democratic caucus.

Inslee proposed a capital gains tax in his budget and House Democrats had a version in theirs. Leaders of the Senate clan made clear from Day One they couldn’t muster 25 votes out of their 28-person caucus for the idea. The conversation continued until Day 103 when everyone agreed to tax the profits of big banks instead.

Death Penalty: A pretty safe bet when the session began was that lawmakers would wipe the state’s death penalty statute off the books. The state Supreme Court had found the law unconstitutional. Attorney General Bob Ferguson requested it be erased and Inslee backed the idea. But this wager turned out to be a loser.

In February, the Senate passed a bill eliminating it. But the House never acted though supporters insist they had the votes to pass it. House Speaker Frank Chopp reportedly bottled it up. A political pragmatist, Chopp may have calculated it could cause more harm than help to Democratic candidates. But Chopp won’t be speaker in 2020 and this bill will still be around. It may be worth placing another bet.

Plastic Bags: Another head-scratcher. Cities like Edmonds, Everett and Snohomish are banning single-use plastic bags. QFC is phasing them out too. The trend is toward their extinction yet the majority party could not get a policy to this effect passed. Again, a bill passed the Senate and lapsed in the House.

The Legislature did enact bills aimed at improving recycling and finding a market for products China will no longer buy. But a statewide prohibition on plastic bags, which seemed to be low-hanging fruit in January, proved unreachable in April.

Low Carbon Fuel Standard: This is the most notable piece of climate policy left undone in 2019. Not for lack of trying. House Democrats squeezed through legislation requiring gasoline be produced with a little less concentration of carbon molecules so when it burns it will produce a little less pollution.

Too few Democratic senators backed it. A couple of ones who did support it valiantly cobbled together a last-ditch proposal. It received a hearing on Day 103. Environmentalists and oil industry representatives opposed it. Look for LCFS policy to be a big deal in 2020.

Car Tabs: On the final day of the 2018 session, Democrats in the House and Senate feuded on how to provide vehicle owners some relief to surging costs of car tabs in the Sound Transit taxing district. They failed out of concern of derailing a voter-approved expansion plan for light rail service. Democrats vowed to do something in 2019.

They didn’t succeed this year either. They didn’t come close. Republicans introduced bills to lower the costs or put the expansion plan back on the ballot. But they gained no traction. A Democrat offering for rebates fared no better. Though the cost of car tabs could emerge as an election issue in the future — if enough affected voters have long memories — it is unlikely to be on the top of the Democrats’ agenda anytime soon.

They enjoyed a lot of winning this year without it.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

More in Opinion

Reject dishonest vehicle taxes, vote yes on I-976

Taxpayers are getting ripped off, everybody knows it and politicians refuse to… Continue reading

Letters to the editor for the week of Oct. 18

Reader credits Pavone for giving them a voice Dear editor, What do… Continue reading

Mum’s the word: incorporate this plant into your season displays

If your landscape is not a blaze of autumn glory this week,… Continue reading

Lawmakers to governor: How dare you mess with our budget!

They want Jay Inslee to halt his planned $175 million reallocation of state transportation dollars.

Letters to the editor

Renton Councilmember, Mayor Law support Armondo Pavone Dear editor, For over 20… Continue reading

Still more gardening to do before winter

It’s the third week of September and there is still plenty to… Continue reading

Guest opinion: Gov. Inslee passes up a chance to confront corporate ‘blackmail’

Jay Inslee had a chance recently to face his muggers. He didn’t… Continue reading

‘Butterfly effect’ brings change, good or bad, in all our lives

“Predictability: Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set a… Continue reading

We all benefit when we’re open to new ideas

When I drive in my car, I often listen to the PBS… Continue reading

Fall is for hydrangeas

Don’t miss Windmill Gardens “Smart Gardening Ideas for Fall” at 10 a.m.… Continue reading

Letters to the editor for the week of Sept. 13

Reader wishes more council members were responsive Dear editor, Our council members… Continue reading

x
Did Inslee’s 12-word veto cross the line?

OLYMPIA — When Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed a 12-word sentence in the… Continue reading