Welcome to the 2nd half of the 2021 legislative session!! 

Cut-off for bills to be out of their original house was on Tuesday, March 9th, and, on Wednesday, March 10th legislators were back in committee hearings. Prior to the 5:00 p.m. deadline on March 9th, the Senate passed a capital gains bill, their version of the Fair Start for Kids Act, a tenant protection bill, and much more. The House was also very busy passing their own version of the Fair Start for Kids Act, a Working Families Tax Exemption bill, a just cause eviction bill, and more….. all in addition to the many other bills we highlighted over the past few weeks!

While many bills made it through the original house, many didn’t. Now the number of bills that need to be heard and passed in the opposite house policy committees is a bit more manageable! 

Also, some bills are identified as “necessary to implement the budget” (and are therefore not subject to the cut-off) still have to make it through the process but do not have to follow the same timelines. While the definition of “necessary to implement the budget” is a bit hard to pin down, it generally applies to bills that will bring in revenue… but there isn’t a firm definition.  

And speaking of revenue, the next revenue forecast is coming right up on March 17th!  At that time we will hear how the state is doing and how much more or less revenue is being collected since the last forecast, which was in Nov. 2020. Here’s hoping the news is good! 

And on the subject of good news, the federal relief package signed earlier this week soon will bring quite a bit of one-time federal funds to the state. These federal funds potentially could pay for some of the items the legislature was planning on to use general fund state (or perhaps capital) dollars. The legislature will want to appropriate these funds before they adjourn. 

There will be challenges including, but not limited to the following: it’s one-time money, has to be spent by certain dates/years, much of the federal guidance hasn’t come yet, likely there will be differences of opinion about how the money should be spent and how prescriptive the allotments should be versus the amount of flexibility the agencies/executive branch will be given. Big decisions about bills and budgets have to be made between now and April 25th.

Between today and next week, many of the bills we have been tracking will have been heard and possibly exec’d (they have until March 26th to get bills out of the opposite house policy committees). 

A few such bills that have already been heard (or will be the morning of the 12th) since the original house cut-off include:

  • SSB5151 – Outdoor pre-school/child-specific foster care licenses
  • 2SSB5331 – Early childhood court (aka safe baby court)
  • SSB5030 – School counselors
  • 2SHB1325 – Children’s mental health
  • E2SHB1194 – Parent-child visitation
  • E2SHB1227 – Keeping Families Together
  • EHB1311 – SUD apprenticeships/certifications
  • SHB1151 – Public assistance programs…. And many more!

As is always the case, in the Partner's for Our Children bill tracker, we include floor amendments for some, but definitely not all, of the bills that passed the original house. 

If you want the most comprehensive look at all the bills, go to Leg.wa.gov for more information. 

We hope you have a lovely weekend and great week ahead.