The big news this week is that the House and Senate passed the Capital budget!  The 2017 sessions ended without a Capital budget, so it is a relief that it is now done.  Both the House and the Senate have been on the floor throughout the week and have already passed a number of other bills.  Many are from last session; they needed to pass out of the original house again before heading to the opposite house.  Things are moving along and hope remains that this legislative session will truly be 60 days.

Bills, bills, and more bills!  Many new bills were introduced this past week, and next week we are very likely to see quite a few more.  Then, because February 2nd is the cut-off for bills to get out of their committees of origin, they will probably taper off... at least somewhat!

Following passage in a policy committee (committee of origin), the next stop for many bills is the fiscal committee.  Given that there are very few days between the policy committee cut-off and the fiscal committee cut-off (February 6th), many bills won’t make it through.  But, many will, and they will then go onto their respective Rules Committee.  More about that in another weekly update!

Also, many bills are amended in committee prior to passage… and many others are amended on the floor of the House or Senate.  We do our best to indicate if a bill has been amended and may or may not write up a summary of the amendment(s).  You can always find the amendments on leg.wa.gov.  On the Bill Information page, search by bill number, and scroll down to Bill History.  If you want more information, click on Committee Materials, then click the bill number in the list. If there are amendments or a substitute bill, click on Amd/Proposed Subs and then click the file link to view what happened to the bill prior to passage in the committee!  And, apologies in advance for not writing up all (or even most) of the amendments...

There is increasing talk about the need to fund McCleary according to the Supreme Court order, and how much $$ is available for other priorities, such as human services, health care, and higher education.  While cutting existing services isn’t likely, reducing the amount the Governor included in his budget for additional services, etc., is likely.  The next revenue forecast is scheduled for February 20th, and the Senate and House budgets will likely be released shortly thereafter.  Stay tuned!

A few notes about our Bill Tracker.  It can be challenging to come up with the appropriate category under which to include a bill.  We are attempting to simplify the categories by putting most bills related to foster care, adoption, kinship care, and other child welfare topics under the heading Child Welfare.  Also, committee schedules can change rather rapidly, so please be aware that in the status summary, we might indicate that a bill has not been scheduled for a hearing, but, by the time you are looking at the Bill Tracker, it could have been!  You can periodically check leg.wa.gov too.  We hope you find what you are looking for on the Bill Tracker, and if not, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email us anytime at info@partnersforourchildren.org.  Please also visit us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates on our work throughout the year.

Have a wonderful week!