OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee yesterday, Wednesday, announced he is calling legislators to Olympia for a special session beginning today to approve a legislative package that the Boeing Company says will ensure its new 777X and composite wing will be built in Washington state.
“I am asking lawmakers to pass a package of legislation that will guarantee that the Boeing 777X and its carbon fiber wing are built in Washington state,” Inslee said. “If we can do this in the next seven days, we can be certain that Washington’s aerospace future will be as bright as its past.”
The 777X package includes several proposals that Inslee, his 777X task force and other legislative leaders have been working on, including:
· A bipartisan transportation revenue package.
· Extension of all commercial airplane tax incentives until 2040 and expansion of the current sales and use tax exemption on construction of buildings to manufacture “superefficient airplanes” to include all commercial airplanes and suppliers of wings and fuselages.
· Education and workforce development investments to boost enrollments in aerospace fields at community and technical colleges.
· Streamlined permitting actions that will speed up development and expansion of facilities at large manufacturing sites around the state.
· Developing balanced, practical solutions that achieve water quality goals (also referred to as fish consumption).
Lower Valley legislators are less enthusiastic about a special session and note that Inslee has provided few details on what lawmakers will actually be considering.
“At this point I haven’t seen any specific language from the governor’s office, so it’s impossible to know how ‘streamlined permitting’ would help the Yakima Valley, if at all,” said Rep David Taylor (R-Moxee). “I remained concerned that we’ll be looking at ‘new’ ideas, but will continue to ignore streamlining requirements already provided for in law.”
Sen. Jim Honeyford (R-Sunnyside) noted that as of yesterday lawmakers had not been given an agenda or schedule for action to consider.
He also is concerned about the short, 36-hour window Inslee gave lawmakers to assemble in Olympia. It’s the shortest time frame he can recall in his nearly two decades in the legislature. It’s also the latest in the year for a special session to be called in his experience.
Besides the quick turnaround and lack of direction, both lawmakers are cautious about private interests driving government action.
“I am very concerned that an agreement between a union and private corporation requires some sort of legislative action and certainly don’t like the precedent it sets for future labor negotiations/agreements,” said Taylor.
Honeyford added, “I’m a little concerned that the union and Boeing are dictating what needs to be done in the legislature.”
Inslee wants legislators to approve the package in one week.
In his announcement yesterday, the governor said he spoke with officials from Boeing and the Machinists union, who pledged that a tentative labor agreement will be be voted on next week.