Welcome to Week 6 of the 2015 Legislative Session!
It’s officially cut-off week! Friday, February 20th is the first major cut-off of the session – it is the day that bills must be out of their original policy committee. If not, they are technically dead. Why ‘technically’ dead? There are always ways a bill can be brought back to life (e.g., necessary to implement the budget, parliamentary rule procedures, amended onto a living bill, etc.). But, for the most part, bills that weren’t heard or did not come up for a vote are dead for the remainder of the session. They can be brought back next year since bills introduced in the odd years (e.g., 2015) can be in the mix for two years.
The next big cut-off is Friday, February 27th – the day that bills must be out of the fiscal committees. That means the week of the 23rd will be very light for policy committees (most aren’t meeting at all) and very intense for the fiscal committees. And those involved with bills that were sent to a fiscal committee will be spending a lot of time trying to ensure that they are heard and passed. Then it’s on to Rules and the House/Senate floor for a vote! And after that, it starts over with bills in the opposite house.
Friday the 20th is also the day of the revenue and caseload forecasts. Legislators will get a sense of how things are going – do we have more or less revenue? More or fewer students, people accessing Medicaid, children in foster care, etc.? The revenue and caseload numbers will have a big impact on the development of the 2015-2017 budget, so many hope that revenues are up and caseloads aren’t.
Following the fiscal committee cut-off, budget discussions will likely pick up steam – with the House budget expected to come out sometime in March. Stay tuned!
Since today is the policy committee cut-off date, there are a few committees that will be finishing up their executive action today, so some of the status updates on our Bill Tracker may be outdated by the end of the day. Apologies! Also, for the bills that we have noted as ‘amended’ and do not have details in the bill summary, you can find the detailed amendments at www.leg.wa.gov. Finally, when the status indicates that the bill has not yet been referred, that means it is unclear as of this writing if the bill will be sent to a fiscal committee or to Rules.
On an exciting note, Partners for Our Children will be releasing our Annual Report of Child Welfare System Performance next week. As a reminder, this report is a result of HB 1774 and HB 1566 in the 2013 legislative session – and aims to help Washington better understand how children served by the state child welfare system are faring in the areas of safety, permanency, well-being, and education. Look out for this in our Quarterly E-Newsletter next week!
Questions? Don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And 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 good weekend!
Public Policy Director