The first cut-off date has come and gone, and we are rapidly approaching the 2nd one! Bills had to be out of the policy committees or origin by close of business (COB) on February 15th, and now have to be out of the fiscal committees by COB on the 22nd. 
 
Since February 15th, the fiscal committees have been having many long meetings and, at least, the House Appropriations Committee may meet on Saturday. 
 
Something that seems different this (remote) session is the Appropriations and Ways & Means Committees are having executive action more frequently and are often scheduling bills for a vote the day after they are heard!  
 
A few bills of note that have been exec’d out of their respective fiscal committee include:
HB1227 – Keeping Families Together;
HB1194 – Parent-Child Visitation;
HB1325 – Children and Youth Behavioral Health;
HB1219 – Appointment of Counsel for Youth in Dependency Court Proceedings;
HB1213 – Fair Start for Kids;
HB1311 – Apprenticeships;
SB5331 – Early Childhood Court;
SB5237 – Child Care and Early Development;
SB5229 – Health equity continuing education for health care (including behavioral health care) professionals;
SB5096 – Capital Gains Tax; and many, many more! 
 
You can read summaries of these (and many more bills) and track future movement on the Partner's for Our Children bill tracker and/or you can hyperlink to the bills on the state legislature website (leg.wa.gov).
 
As mentioned in a previous update, we are summarizing some, but definitely not all, of the substitute versions of the bills we are tracking. You can get a sense of whether or not there is a substitute (meaning the bill was amended) by looking at the status update. It will indicate if a substitute bill passed etc. 
 
Beginning on February 23rd, legislators will be spending a lot of time on the House and Senate floors deliberating and taking action on bills. Of course, bills have to get out of Rules first, before they can get on the floor calendar and getting bills out of Rules is always a nail biter! So many bills, so few opportunities. to get them ‘pulled.’ But it’s all part of the process, and the process is moving along!
 
Going into this next phase of the session means adjusting to another new way of operating. Prior to the pandemic, while on the floor, legislators generally have impromptu meetings with their colleagues, staff, lobbyists and constituents. There is a lot of back and forth among legislators in order to address issues, discuss amendments, and deal with all sorts of things. It’s hard to imagine how that will take place remotely. And for advocates, there will be no hovering around the doors of the House and Senate waiting to grab legislators and staff to find out the status of bills, discuss issues, resolve concerns, etc. It’s a new experience for everyone, and, as has been the case with each phase of the session to date, we will all figure it out!
 
Questions? Comments? Please let us know!
 
Stay safe and thanks for your continued involvement!