Focus on budget compromise slows other legislation

By STEVE BROWN

Capital Press

OLYMPIA -- The Washington state Legislature worked through the night to pass a supplemental budget, then adjourned at 7:30 a.m. today.

When the clock ran out on the second special session at midnight Tuesday, Gov. Chris Gregoire called for a one-day special session because the legislators were near agreement on reforms and a balanced budget.

The Legislature extended its earlier short session because of disagreements on how to close a $1 billion gap in the state's $32 billion biennial general fund budget.

With all the attention on finishing business on the budget in the final days of the special session, work on other legislation slowed. In the past week, few bills specifically affecting agricultural interests were given any consideration.

One bill that did pass and was delivered to the governor was Senate Bill 6406, which would streamline the approval process for forest practices that affect stream flows, institute fees for some projects and increase fees associated with forest practices applications.

Legislation that could have repealed sales and use taxes on off-road diesel, machinery and agricultural fertilizers and chemicals has not advanced since it was reintroduced into the special session on April 4. House Bill 2762 calls for a legislative review of those tax exemptions.

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