Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night… While you may recognize this as the Postal Service creed, it can certainly apply to the legislature!  In spite of the snow and icy conditions, the legislature was back in action on Monday and has had a very full week of hearings, passing bills out of committee, and floor action.  As a reminder, February 17th is the cut-off for bills to get out of their original policy committees, and the 24th is the cut-off for bills in the fiscal committees. 

You may notice that a bill has been scheduled for executive action (taking a vote on a bill in committee) and then taken off the list for action.  This doesn't necessarily mean that there's a problem.  It could simply mean that amendments weren’t ready, or committee members hadn’t had a chance to review the changes, or or or….  While it’s always good to check to see if there is really a problem, scheduling changes are often due to logistics! 

Another thing to note is the fact that it can take time for referrals to the next step in the process to be made following passage of a bill in committee.  For example, HB 1713, Rep. Senn’s Children’s Mental Health bill, passed out of committee on Tuesday, February 7th.  As of 5:00pm on Thursday, February 9th, the bill history indicated that the bill had passed in the Early Learning and Human Services Committee but did not indicate where it would go from there – House Appropriations?  Rules?  So… you might want to keep an eye on it over the next day or so to see where the bill will be going!

News about the budget is not good.  It does not appear that progress between the House Ds and Senate Rs has been made with respect to funding for K-12 or other priorities from one body or another, such as the collective bargaining agreement developed between the executive branch and state employees union.  In looking at the four-year outlook, many folks are saying that the deficit could be upwards of $6-7 billion – again, assuming expenditures on various ‘must-haves’.  But it’s only mid-February, and a lot can happen between now and the end of April when the regular session is due to end, or perhaps the end of June, or whenever!  We are bracing for a loooooong session!  But it’s already the end of week 5, which seems pretty amazing… The session is flying by!

On the bill front, HB 1661 and SB 5498, the bills establishing the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, were both heard in their respective policy committees and are scheduled to be exec’d next week.  Although the Senate bill that was heard was a substitute, it is very likely that additional changes will be made before it is brought up for a vote in the Human Services Committee.  And with respect to the House bill, it was heard last Friday and will also be amended before coming to the Early Learning and Human Services committee for a vote (which is likely to be Tuesday). 

Speaking of amendments, keep in mind: Our Bill Tracker will not be summarizing all of the amendments, substitute bills, etc.  We will do that for some of the bills, but if the status summary indicates that the bill was amended before passage out of committee and the update does not include a summary of the amendments, please visit leg.wa.gov for more information!

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please don't hesitate to email us at info@partnersforourchildren.org.

And check us out on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates on our work throughout the year.

Here’s to better weather next week and getting through the many bills in front of the policy committees!

 

Laurie Lippold
Public Policy Director