The House and Senate agreed on a budget early in the week and passed it on Tuesday, March 29th!  They also passed a number of bills ‘necessary to implement the budget’ and overrode the bills the Governor vetoed at the conclusion of the regular session.  SINE DIE took place the night of the 29th, and off the legislators went!

All in all, the budget turned out pretty well (from our vantage point!), and a number of good policy bills were passed and are in the process of being acted upon by the Governor.  The Governor has until Saturday, April 2nd to sign/veto bills; however, if he does not take action on a bill, it will go into effect.
 
Highlights from the session include funding for the following:
  • The second year of performance-based contracting in the Spokane area (with the expectation that the funding will be ongoing)
  • Implementation of the Family Assessment Response statewide
  • The Blue Ribbon Commission (per the Governor’s Executive Order related to a separate children’s department)
  • Increasing the Child Placing Agency rate
  • Additional HOPE beds, Family Reconciliation, Crisis Residential Centers, and Street Youth Services
Additionally, the legislature passed the following bills:
  • HB 2439, geared towards improving access to appropriate children’s mental health services
  • HB 1682, which focuses on homeless students
  • HB 2591, a bill that deals with foster parents/caregivers receiving notice of their right to be heard at dependency court hearings and having such notification documented by the court
  • HB 1553, the bill that creates the Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity, and will help formerly incarcerated individuals obtain employment
  • HB 2749, which extends the requirement to implement ‘part 2’ of the child welfare reform bill passed in 2009 from December of 2016 to December of 2019.
This is by no means an exhaustive list!  Be sure to check out our Bill Tracker for updates on the other bills we're tracking.  (Note: The tracker should reflect the latest updates by early next week!) 
 
We are pleased that, in spite of this being a short session, with very few resources available, children and families fared quite well!
 
This will be the last legislative update we send for the 2016 session(s), unless something of particular note comes up!  We welcome your input regarding our weekly updates.  Please continue to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter for updates on our work throughout the year.
 
Thank you for your commitment to children and families.
 
Have a great interim!
 
 
Laurie Lippold
Public Policy Director