Snow, sun and now more snow??!!
 
The week started out on a snowy note with a number of people who had planned to come to Olympia for hearings or meetings with legislators unable to do so.  That said, the legislature did not come to a grinding halt - in fact committees met, meetings took place, and life around the capitol proceeded... pretty much as planned! 
 
What did come to a grinding halt, however, was I-5 on Tuesday late afternoon into the night.  A serious accident and incident took place between Olympia and Tacoma that had most lanes in both directions of the interstate closed...which meant it took hours and hours for folks to get north.  But hopefully the experience in Olympia was worth the time it took to get there and back!
 
Two weeks from today is the first cut-off - bills must be out of their original policy committee or they die.  The caveat for that statement, however, is that nothing is really dead until the legislature adjourns sine die.  And then given this is the first year of the biennium, bills will actually be alive next session as well.  But regardless of some of the technicalities of the political process, if bills do not pass out of their original policy committee by Feb. 22nd, they will be dead.  At that time the tracker will indicate that they died in committee and unless they are amended onto another bill or end up as a budget proviso, they will no longer be updated and/or reported on.     
 
 And... speaking of amendments, bills are being exec’d out of the policy committees at a pretty swift pace - many as substitute bills.  This means that there have been amendments to the bill and they are now being rolled up into a new/substitute bill.  We will not be including amendment content in this tracker; however, will do our best to indicated if the bill were amended.  We will be reviewing the bills and making a decision as to which we will report on with amendments in future trackers.
 
For those of you for whom coming to Olympia can be a challenge, you might be very interested in the announcement the Senate made this week:
 
Last week the Senate Facilities and Operations Committee (the committee that oversees the administration of the Senate) approved a plan I put forward in conjunction with Sen. Mike Padden to make the Senate’s remote testimony pilot project permanent and to expand it. The Washington State Senate is one of only a handful of legislative chambers in the country that regularly allows remote testimony.
 
REMOTE TESTIMONY!!!!  It is unclear exactly how it will work but it is such a wonderful option - especially for individuals who want to participate in the democratic process but for one reason or another are not able to be in Olympia.  I would imagine that we will be hearing more about this option over time.  And one other thing about remote access...  All committees are now using electronic sign in for hearings on bills!  It is an incredibly easy way to indicate a position and whether or not you want to testify on a particular bill.  Unfortunately the system really only works when you are on the capitol campus but who knows, maybe someday it will be accessible from afar!

We hope the Partners for Our Children bill tracker (updated on Fridays) has been helpful to date. We're always open to feedback.

Please let us know if you have questions, concerns, by contacting Nicole Sadow-Hasenberg, Communications Manager, Partners for Our Children.
Enjoy the snow, and have a good week..... stay safe!