2020 Washington Legislature, Day 19 of 60
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OLYMPIA, Jan. 31, 2020 — As we conclude Week 3, the legislative waters are getting a little more turbulent.
The leader of Washington’s public school system urged lawmakers Thursday not to allow sports betting in the state because the technology lacks safeguards to prevent students from participating.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal’s chief concern is online gambling and the likelihood students could find their way around protective walls and play. That would lead to a mess of problems in public schools, he told a Senate committee that is considering competing sports betting bills.
• Microsoft CEO Brad Smith dropped by the press house to chat with reporters. On the subject of data privacy, he voiced support for “a strong privacy law and one with strong protections for consumers.” But not one with a private right of action. He said those he’s talked with seem to feel a bill cannot pass this session if it contains such a provision. “We’re here to get a bill passed,” he said.
• As promised, Rep. Jay Fey of Tacoma introduced House Bill 2913 to raise the gas tax 9.7 cents over 10 years to pay for culvert replacement.
• Senate Democrats on Thursday passed a much revamped business tax to cover the cost of providing financial aid to any qualified college student. In April, when the majority party pushed through this entitlement program with a vexing three-tiered business-and-occupation surcharge, the vote was 25-22. The rejiggered bill, SB 6492, is more of a straight tax. Around 65,000 fewer businesses will pay it. The vote this time was 28-21.
• House Democrats are losing one of their veterans to the National Hockey League. Seattle Rep. Eric Pettigrew, who was first elected in 2002 and is now the caucus chairman, will retire at the end of this term. In a statement, he said he is passing on re-election to focus on his family and a new job with NHL Seattle.
What we’re writing and reading
• How many rounds of votes does it take to choose a city council member in Edmonds? The answer is 44, reports Joseph Thompson of The Herald.
• ICYMI: Seattle Times reporter Joseph O’Sullivan writes on how Western State Hospital hopes to reduce violence against staff by housing patients deemed most dangerous in special wards.
• Newspapers take the low road with opposition to HB 1888, says David Groves of the Washington State Labor Council. That’s the bill to exempt the dates of birth and addresses of public employees from disclosure.
• Warren Buffett is getting out of the newspaper business, reports Bloomberg.
• They’re on the move, maybe: A bill eliminating most elections in odd-numbered years could be voted out of the House state government committee this morning. In the afternoon, the state government committee in the Senate might act on legislation moving the date of the non-presidential primary to May.
• Should school districts be able to spend money to build housing for teachers and staff? Senate Bill 6512 would allow it with voter approval. A hearing is set for 8 a.m. in the Senate education committee.
Non-profit TVW covers state government in Olympia and selected events statewide. Programs are available for replay on the internet, and the channel is widely available on Washington cable systems.
Beat reporters: Jerry Cornfield (Herald) | Rachel La Corte (AP) | Joseph O’Sullivan (Times) | Jim Brunner (Times) | Melissa Santos (Crosscut) | Jim Camden (Spokesman-Review) | Austin Jenkins (NW News Network) | James Drew (News Tribune)