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Capitol Outlook: Let the back room bargaining begin

The week ahead in the capitol.
Lawmakers continue to huddle behind closed doors at the capitol.

Lawmakers continue to huddle behind closed doors at the capitol. MathTeacherGuy/Flickr

Big-picture philosophizing is slowly giving ground to the gritty work of hammering out specifics.

After a week of public hearings and a handful of high profile single-issue work sessions, this week will see more committee executive sessions, where members decide which bills will make it to the Senate or House for a full vote.

Behind the scenes, as bills come out of committee and onto the floor in increasing numbers, the horse-trading likely to characterize the middle part of the session ought to be getting under way.

One hot issue will be gun control. Last week Senate democrats dropped five of the six bills that they say will be the main focus of their gun control efforts. This week at least one of those bills — SB 5479, which would establish safe temporary firearm storage sites at police stations — is scheduled for a hearing. Wednesday the House judiciary committee will take public input on four gun control bills, including HB 1676, which would require universal background checks.

According to sources among the House Democrats, the coming week will also see the introduction for floor debate of bills on several key issues for the party, including care for foster children, controls on college tuition hikes, and preserving the state's GET tuition-savings program.

In the Senate at least some of the hot action will be in the back rooms, where lobbyists are crafting and seeking sponsors for amendments to marijuana legislation. Specifically, lobbyists are hoping to keep the recreational and medical marijuana markets separate; a move that would entail separate licensing systems and a lower price for medical marijana.

One more thing to look for: A bill proposing a ban on assault weapons is widely expected from Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle. Given that the House Dems have already dropped their major gun control bills and the Senate Dems announced their priority package last week, this week seems like it would be the natural choice.

Whenever it comes, expect the usual uproar.

Tom James has helped cover the 2013 state legislative session for Crosscut through the University of Washington journalism program. He also writes for Crosscut on other subjects. Born in Seattle and raised in Kitsap, Tom worked for the Kitsap Navy News and Central Kitsap Reporter before heading to the UW for a double-major in journalism and economics, which he hopes to finish in 2014.


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