Today, Friday, February 23rd, marks yet another legislative cut-off date: Bills must be out of the opposite house policy committee by the end of the day. This cut-off is followed almost immediately by the opposite house fiscal committee cut-off, on Monday, February 26th.
As you might imagine, the fiscal committees are scheduled to work over the weekend. Everyone who has a living bill that needs to be heard and passed by the fiscal committees will anxiously await word from the committees whether their bill is scheduled! Time is definitely working against us at this point, but things move quickly, and so much will likely happen between now and Monday night!
After the fiscal cut-off, the House and Senate will spend the bulk of the remaining days of session on the floor. They will pass bills, resolve differences between the versions of a bill if it was amended in the opposite house, and the biggie: They will pass a budget!
And speaking of the budget, both the Senate and the House released their budgets this week – the Senate on Monday and the House on Tuesday. While there are many areas of agreement, there are also some significant differences – including how to address McCleary (the Senate addressed the Court’s directive about teacher compensation; the House did not). Both of the fiscal committees passed their respective budgets, with some amendments, which means the budgets now go to the floor for a vote. Once the House and Senate pass their budgets, negotiations will get fully underway. The goal is to reach agreement by March 8th, the day session officially ends! Please note, we are in the process of updating our budget document and will post it ASAP.
Just a reminder: Because today is the opposite house policy committee cut-off and a number of committees will be voting on bills, our Bill Tracker reflects the status as of yesterday evening, February 22nd… but the status could very well change today! So, don’t forget to check leg.wa.gov for the latest updates!
The weather has posed some challenges this week, but the legislative process proceeded as scheduled. Over many years, the legislature has ‘shut down’ only a few times – due to things like a power outage or earthquake! Session will be over (fingers crossed) by the time spring arrives, but a bit of warmer weather would be nice!
Please let us know if you have any questions or comments!
Stay safe and have a good week!