What a week! The cherry blossoms are in full and beautiful bloom. The Senate heard and passed their budget, the fiscal committees heard and passed many bills, and the cut-off for bills to be out of the opposite house policy committees came and went! And, since the last update, the House also passed their budget!
So what’s next? The cut-off for House Appropriations is Monday, April 8th and, for Senate Ways & Means, the cut-off is Tuesday April 9th. For those of you who have been around awhile, you know cut-off deadlines mean a long day of hearing and likely exec’ing bills on Saturday…. at least in the House! The House Appropriations committee published their hearing schedule for Saturday. As it turns out, the Senate Ways and Means committee is not meeting.
This is a nail biting time as legislators and advocates all nervously wait to see if their bill or bills get scheduled! I am pleased to report that a number of bills that we are tracking particularly closely are scheduled, and I remain hopeful that they will be passed by the fiscal committee and full body! One step at a time…..
What else is happening? The major task at hand is resolving the differences between the House and Senate budgets, which are close in some areas but far apart in others. Revenue bills need to be passed to pay for the budgets, which will likely be challenging, and agreement has to be reached with respect to all of the many, many items each budget includes that have small to very big price tags. We have completed round one of a Partners for Our Children budget comparison document (Governor, House, Senate budgets). And, we will update it with amendments that were included by the House and Senate prior to passage. We will get it posted asap.
Speaking of amendments, next week’s Partners for Our Children bill tracker will include amendments for a number of bills, but, as was the case previously, not all. Please do visit the tracker as we spend much energy trying to keep in up-to-date and useful. Updated versions of all bills can be found on leg.wa.gov
After the cut-off for fiscal committees all attention will turn to Rules and floor action. The cut-off for bills to be out of the opposite house is April 17th. Then, April 28th, 11 days later, is the last day of session…. assuming agreement has been reached on the budget! Much remains to get done, and at this point, not a whole lot of time. But here’s hoping the things that need to happen do in order for sine die (and not to come back for you know what!) and so the interim can begin!