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Inside Olympia – Legislative Leaders

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April 29, 2021

The 2021 Legislature adjourned on Sunday, April 25th. Majority Democrats, who control both House and Senate, and minority Republicans give vastly different reviews of the session.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig of Spokane and Democratic House Speaker Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma call the session historic, with the passage of a variety of bills long sought by Democrats. They point to passage of a capital gains tax; financial help for a state still struggling with COVID; passage of a package of police reform measures; approval of major environmental bills, including a cap-and-trade bill and a low-carbon fuel standard; and a strong focus on equity both in terms of policy bills and the state budget.

Senate Republican Leader John Braun of Centralia and House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox of Yelm call the session very partisan. They point to a state budget they say is too large, and relies on new taxes that aren’t needed. According to them, the budget, coupled with the environmental bills that were approved, will hurt middle-income families who have to commute to work.

There are some areas of agreement. Both sides tout funding the Working Families Tax Credit, and there was bipartisan support for legislation that funds a major focus on wildfire prevention and forest health. But in general, legislative Democrats and Republicans look back at the 2021 session through different lenses.

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