Cut-off weeks are generally incredibly busy, and this one was no exception.  Today, February 17th, is the cut-off for bills to get out of their committees of origin.  Most committees have been both hearing and exec’ing bills all week, and for a number of committees, their last meeting was yesterday (or, in the cases of Human Services, Mental Health, and Housing, Wednesday was their last meeting… until after the original house-of-origin cut-off). 

Many bills are amended throughout the process, and it is during the executive action where this first takes place.  Amendments generally have to be submitted in advance of the committee meeting where the vote will be taken, and can range from very minor, technical changes to a significant rewriting of the original bill!  Our focus for summarizing amendments/substitutes will be on bills that are particularly noteworthy in the children and families realm.  Also, remember that there can be a delay between the time a bill comes up for a vote and the time the information is updated on leg.wa.gov.  This is especially true with respect to where bills are referred.  A bill might pass out of the policy committee today, but it could be a couple of days before the next stop for the bill (fiscal committee or Rules) will be identified.  We strive to be as current as we can be, but with all of the moving pieces, there may be occasions where something could have changed between the time the Bill Tracker is updated and the time it is posted!

As you will see, many bills are still alive, which is great!  That said, a number of them will not be able to be heard in the fiscal committees (even if that’s where they are referred), because there simply isn’t enough time.  OR because the fiscal note on the bill is very high and there is virtually no chance it will make it through the process.  OR the bill will be heard but not taken up for a vote… The fiscal committees will be meeting a lot in the week to come, and by the 24th, we will have a much better idea of where things are with fiscal bills. 

Also meeting with more frequency is the Rules committee.  Remember, bills must be ‘pulled’ in Rules to continue moving through the process.  Rules meetings don’t have public hearings, and sometimes there is very little discussion among the members about the bills being ‘pulled’, but if a bill is going to continue to move through the process, it has to get through Rules.

It is very likely that floor action will also pick up this week.  When the fiscal committees aren’t meeting, the House and Senate may take up bills on the floor.  This has been going on to date, but with more bills out of the policy committees of origin, and more moving through Rules, it makes sense to take them up on the floor!  The more that can get done every day, the less frenetic it will be as we move closer to the house-of-origin cut-off (March 8th).

Just a reminder… it’s not over ‘til it’s over!  Meaning that even if a bill is dead (which we will indicate in the status update of the Bill Tracker), it doesn’t mean it won’t resurface!  It could be amended onto a living bill, it could be reworked into the form of a budget proviso, it could rise to the level of very high priority and be pulled from committee to Rules or the floor or during a pro forma session of the House or Senate.  It is pretty uncommon to do this but when it comes to the legislative process, anything can happen!

Next week’s alert will come out just before the fiscal committee cut-off.  Here’s hoping that bills that are of importance to you are still alive!

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

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Have a good week!

 

Laurie Lippold
Public Policy Director