The legislature has been working pretty much non-stop following the fiscal cut-off on February 6th and the house of origin cut-off on February 14th. While those had quick turnaround times, they are nothing compared to what is about to happen.
Policy committee hearings on bills from the opposite house commenced on the 15th. Cut-off for bills to be out of the opposite house policy committees is February 22nd. Opposite house fiscal committee cut-off is just a few days later on February 26th, and then, four days after that, is the cut-off for bills to be out of the opposite house. Quite the whirlwind! Unfortunately, given how many bills are passing out of the original house, it likely means many will now die.
Added into the intense mix is the release of the Senate and House budgets. The revenue forecast that came out yesterday, February 15th, was positive (revenue collections are projected to be up $628 million for the 2017-2019 biennium!) which, according to David Schumacher, director of the Office of Financial Management, will help us meet our basic education and mental health budget challenges. It is now expected that the Senate will release their budget on Monday, February 19th, and the House will release theirs on the 20th. Both the Senate Ways and Means committee and the House Appropriations committee will hold a public hearing on their respective budgets on Tuesday, February 20th. This will be followed quickly by the drafting of amendments, then passage out of the fiscal committees and off the floor. There is always interest in getting the House and Senate budget folks together as soon as possible to iron out their differences. And, of course, the Governor also has a budget that needs to be taken into consideration and is part of the negotiations toward agreement on a final budget! All of this (hopefully) before the end of the day on March 8th, which is sine die.
We do our best to provide you with up-to-date information. Please note, however, that things can and do change quickly. Confirming the status of a bill via leg.wa.gov is a good idea. Additionally, this week’s Bill Tracker was updated a bit earlier than usual due to some internal scheduling issues, so some bills might not have the most current information by the time you read it. This document reflects the most recent updates at the time of writing. We will resume our regular process next week. Thank you for your understanding!
Just FYI, bills that passed on the 13th or 14th may not have been referred to the opposite house committee by the time the Bill Tracker was updated, so if the status update indicates the bill has not yet been referred, please double-check at leg.wa.gov!
Hang on tight!!! Things will move quickly and everyone wants their bill(s) to survive. As we all know, there just isn’t enough time in a day to get everything done!
Questions? Please be in touch!