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Former Vice President Al Gore and Governor of Washington Jay Inslee attend a special screening of 'An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power' on July 30, 2017. Photo: Jim Bennett/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

Over mushroom omelettes at the governor’s mansion in Olympia, Washington, the state’s Democrat governor, Jay Inslee, and I talked about his support for a ballot initiative taxing carbon emissions, climate-related lawsuits and more.

Why he matters: Inslee, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, is emerging as a leading progressive politician and critic of President Trump. Excerpts of the interview are below — with some corresponding reality checks.

Inslee drew a stark contrast between those who vote for and those who vote against a state-wide ballot proposal imposing a fee — others call it a tax — on most major polluting facilities in the state as a way to address climate change.

"Let me tell you, if you’re voting against the [ballot] initiative, you’re going to be voting with Donald Trump, who is a climate denier."
— Inslee

Reality check: There’s a lot more daylight between voting no on this proposal and denying that climate change is real. Two years ago, Washingtonians voted against a similar carbon tax proposal. Inslee may now see connecting anything to Trump as an effective political ploy in the mostly blue state of Washington he represents.

Inslee is traveling next week to a big climate summit in San Francisco, though he acknowledged many countries — and even Washington state — aren’t meeting their climate goals.

"It’s obviously concerning, including our own because we’ve abandoned any pretense of reaching those goals. … Washington state won’t meet it if we don’t pass this initiative."
— Inslee

Reality check: Despite increasing climate action by progressive states like California and Washington, their efforts fall short without national government action. As a global problem, any individual action by itself won’t do much, and yet collective action on a global scale may not occur without individual actions first.

Inslee expressed general support for lawsuits — including one brought by King County — suing oil companies alleging liability for climate change.

"I support people having access to the courts. I support the right to bring this lawsuit. I wouldn’t be in favor of shutting them down."
— Inslee

Reality check: That’s a pretty tepid response for a politician otherwise outspokenly supportive of any and all actions to address climate change.

Stay tuned for a deeper dive on the ballot initiative in an upcoming Harder Line column.

Go deeper

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.

10 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

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  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.