Working to transform the child welfare system.

FEBRUARY 17, 2023

Really?  It’s the end of week 6 already???   Not only is it the end of week 6, but it is cut-off for bills to be out of their policy committee of origin or die (again, at least until next session or they get revived onto another bill, or or or….!).  Policy committees have been hard at work having hearings on bills, as well as voting on bills they have heard over the past 6 weeks.  Many bills have a fiscal impact and therefore will be referred from the policy committee to the fiscal committee but those that don’t will be sent to the Rules committee.  And as mentioned previously, bills that go to a fiscal committee, if passed, also have to go to Rules.  You get the picture, there are many steps a bill must go through before reaching the Governor and as you can imagine, a lot of them never make it that far.

But back to where we are now!  Over the next week (fiscal cut off is 2/24) one or both of the fiscal committees will be meeting every day (with the exception of Sunday) to hear and pass bills.  Long hours are anticipated as they try to get to as many bills as possible.  Because of concerns about the state’s budget climate, and a number of big ticket items that have to be addressed (e.g. the collective bargaining agreements, funding for special education, etc.), many bills simply won’t make it or will be amended in order to bring the fiscal note down.   It is often far better to amend the bill and keep it moving than have it die but there are  also situations where, when changes are made in order to bring the costs down, the bill no longer addresses the policy it was intended to address and it might be better to try again another year.  That is not to say that in cases where the fiscal note can be lowered by amending the bill that the bill will necessarily make it through the committee, out of Rules, voted on by the original house, and then through the whole process in the opposite house!  But they might have a better chance if their price tag has been lowered!

Now is also the time where, when there are companion bills (bills that at least started out identically), decisions may be made about which to move – the House or the Senate bill.  While advocates generally want to keep both bills alive as long as possible, it is true that having the same bill moving along in both chambers takes time in the fiscal committee, Rules and on the floor.   So….if you are following a bill that has a companion and you see that one has stopped moving, it is not necessarily a bad sign.  Worth checking out, however, as if it does mean the bill is in trouble you would definitely want to know!

Remote testimony continues to be used, which is fabulous.  Hearing rooms are often less crowded, more voices are able to be heard, and folks don’t have to spend hours on the road and looking for parking in order to speak in front of a committee for 1 minute.  YAY!!!  Again, many thanks to legislators and staff for making this work in a seamless and effective way.

One final word for the week…..  the fiscal committees will be adding bills to the hearing/exec schedule which means what we have in the tracker right now could change very quickly.  A bill that hasn’t been scheduled for a hearing in Appropriations/Ways and Means as of this writing could have been scheduled even before you open your email and start browsing through the tracker!  So as always, leg.wa.gov is a great go to site for the latest status update over the next 7 days.

Thanks again for your interest and involvement!  Happy cut-off!!!

Here is the bill tracker for week six: P4C week six bill tracker 2023.