After Lockup, State House Finally Oks Crime Bill -- The Legislature -- Ill Legislator Transported To Chamber For Big Vote

OLYMPIA - In the end, it took the State Patrol to help the Legislature speed its way toward adjournment.

Democratic Rep. Mike Riley, who is recovering from brain cancer, was transported from his home in Longview late last night to cast one of the critical votes needed to approve a controversial youth violence bill and clear the path toward a possible end to its short overtime session.

The legislators, capping a week of chaos and indecision, were wrapping up legislation early this morning on youth violence, tax cuts for business and a rewrite of the 1993-1995 budget.

"We're going to make every attempt to see if we can make it," said Sen. Sid Snyder of Long Beach, Democratic Caucus chairman. He said several senators need to leave Olympia on personal business this weekend.

The House and Senate were nearing a compromise on the last major obstacle to adjournment - an estimated $216 million of tax cuts and incentives for businesses during the next three years.

The proposal includes a partial repeal of the four-year business surtax levied last year. It also would eliminate or reduce business taxes on the state's smallest firms. Manufacturers that locate in economically distressed counties and high-technology companies would be eligible for new tax incentives.

While Gov. Mike Lowry had earlier asked for a much more limited tax-cut package, his aides helped negotiate the final compromise.

Once the tax bill is passed, leaders expect no problems winning approval of a revised $16.3 billion spending plan for the 1993-1995 biennium.

For awhile, the prospect of adjourning was slipping away when the state House came up short of the votes needed for a $15.6 million anti-crime package. Determined to get the legislation adopted, Democratic leaders locked the doors at 8:30 p.m. and wrestled the handful of votes needed to meet the 50-vote requirement for passage.

If the Legislature appeared unsure of its approach to violence, Ebersole said, it's only because they reflect the public's frustration over how to grapple such a complex issue.

"The reality is that there's nothing the government can do in 60 days that is going to make a dramatic reduction in violence in this state," the speaker said. "That in itself is a frustration for all us."

In the end, buoyed by Riley's dramatic appearance, the House passed the measure 51-43. The state Senate also passed the bill earlier in the evening on a 26-20 vote.

Riley had to be rushed off the floor by a colleague even as roll call was still being taken. Democratic leaders later said he had a reaction to medication but was fine.

The $15.6 million package entails a combination of prevention programs and enhanced jail sentences, while also tightening up a few gun regulations and addressing violence in the media. Voters will also be asked to approve a November ballot tax measure that would raise cigarette taxes by 7.5 cents a pack while helping to generate $120 million in taxes on alcohol, beer and soda-pop syrup.

Only one Republican, Jeanine Long of Mill Creek supported the measure. Rep. Mike Heavey was among 11 Democrats who opposed it.

"I can't afford to say to my district, to my people that I'm too cheap to put people behind bars . . .," said Heavey, who represents West Seattle's 34th District.

Many in the House feel they got the short end of the deal because their favorite proposals - such as a statewide curfew and an overhaul of the juvenile-justice system - were dispensed with during backroom negotiations with the Senate.

The last-minute dealmaking over whose taxes to cut stood in sharp contrast to the end of the 1993 session, when lawmakers raised taxes by nearly $1 billion.

A recovering economy also prompted lawmakers, who came into the session promising to make budget cuts after voters approved a spending-limits initiative last fall, to boost spending by about $160 million. New money is earmarked for school construction, colleges, parks and highway projects.

The anti-crime package was just one part of a more conservative agenda pushed by the Democrcatic majority that including stricter welfare rules to move recipients into the workplace faster and laws designed to ease the regulatory burden on business. The Republican minority claimed ruling Democrats didn't go far enough in any of those areas.