Working to transform the child welfare system.

Legislative Update – Week 4

Welcome to Week 4 of the 2015 Legislative Session!

1,759: That is the number of bills that have been introduced so far this session (as of February 4th).  No wonder it seems like there have been a lot of bills to review – because there have been!  With the first cut-off rapidly approaching (bills have to be out of their committee of origin), many of the bills won’t make it through, and the process of whittling down the number of bills will be in full swing.  But there will still be a lot of bills in play, with some making it through to the end and many likely not.

A few bills that we’re closely watching are HB 1728 and SB 5486, which create a Parents for Parents Program – which basically means that parents who have been involved in the child welfare system would serve as peer mentors to parents who are just starting their own process.  The argument is that this program can help parents better navigate a sometimes-stressful and complicated process, and eventually be reunified with their children more quickly.  Of course, Partners for Our Children would want to ensure the program is evaluated to ensure it is improving outcomes.  We’ll see where these go!

This session, the Senate is trying something new: Remote testimony.  Starting as a pilot, the purpose is to open the process up to folks who are not able to get to Olympia to testify on a particular bill.  Bills that are scheduled for remote testimony will be identified on the committee agenda, which is available at www.leg.wa.gov.  It will be interesting to see how this goes, but it sure seems like a good idea.

Don’t forget – as mentioned in a previous update, many bills will be amended prior to being voted on in the committee of origin.  While some of the amendments will be summarized on the Bill Tracker, many won’t.  So if you want to follow the amendments to specific bills that we have not summarized on our website, you can find them at www.leg.wa.gov.

So what’s happening with the early supplemental budget that the House passed last week?  The Senate Ways and Means Committee took the bill up on February 5th.  They made a few adjustments in their proposed supplemental budget, but in general, it appears that they will be taking action on a budget very similar to what the House passed.  While it is unclear when the supplemental budget will be voted out of Ways and Means and then out of the Senate, it is looking like things are moving in that direction.  And it is anticipated that there will be a larger 2015 supplemental budget passed along with the 2015-2017 biennial budget months down the road.

It’s hard to imagine, but if this were a short session, we would be about halfway through!  But alas, we have many more weeks to get everything squared away – let’s hope at the end, the budget supports the programs needed to protect and help vulnerable children and families. 

As always, don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates on our work during the legislative session and throughout the year.

Have a great weekend!

Laurie Lippold

Public Policy Director