It is very hard to believe, but we are halfway through the legislative session! Cut-off for bills to get out of their original fiscal committee was on Tuesday (February 6th), and February 14th is the cut-off date for bills to get out of their original house. The impact? Legislators are now spending many hours a day on the House and Senate floors, discussing and voting on bills.
Before the House Appropriations Committee passed a long list of bills (I believe there were around 75) on Tuesday night, approximately 300 bills were in Rules, or so we heard! With the addition of the bills from Appropriations, the number rose to close to 400 bills that will need to get out of Rules and to the floor of the House for a vote before the end of the day/night on the 14th. Hmmm… not likely!
Everyone with a bill in Rules is now busy trying to find a member of the Rules committee to ‘pull’ the bill (meaning bring it up for a vote in Rules so it can be advanced to the floor calendar) and, if that happens, to get the bill to the floor for a vote. This part of session is a time of high anxiety, and the House and Senate often work late into the night, as well as on weekends.
If you track the daily sheet of bill introductions (available on leg.wa.gov), you’ve probably noticed that a number of bills have been introduced that have a title but no substance, such as SB6607: Relating to Human Services. These bills are called ‘title only’ bills; they serve as placeholders to address issues that may arise later in the process. We will not summarize ‘title only’ bills on our Bill Tracker, but if they expand into something else, we will!
Is a bill ever really dead?? Yes and no! As you will see in the Bill Tracker, a number of bills are identified as dead. In this context, ‘dead’ means that they did not make it past one of the cut-offs. It is important to remember, however, that many ‘dead’ bills get amended onto living bills or become budget provisos. Bills can also resurface through a procedural move. So… while technically a bill might be dead, in reality, it’s not over ‘til it’s over!
We anticipate that the revenue forecast will take place on February 15th, and that the Senate will release their budget shortly thereafter. Budget discussions are underway; however, much of the focus right now, for most legislators and advocates, is on getting bills through their original houses.
After cut-off on the 14th, policy committees take up bills that have come over from the opposite house (some have already begun to do that!), but there won’t be much time for decision-making before the policy committee cut-off on February 23rd. Again, there is so much to do in a very short period of time! It becomes easier and easier to see how we can go from hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of bills in the mix to just hundreds and hundreds! There are many places bills change or die, but many do make it through.
Please note: The weekly update and Bill Tracker may come out a bit earlier next week. If this happens, it will still be post cut-off on the 14th so we can indicate which of the bills we are tracking that are still alive!
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Please let us know!
Enjoy the weekend!