Cut-off for bills to be out of the opposite house was Wednesday, April 12th. It’s hard to believe there is just over one week left in the regular session! Once again, as with all cut-offs, many bills died and many are still alive. As you know, however, bills identified as dead can be brought back to life in a variety of ways, such as being amended onto another bill, being considered necessary to implement the budget (NTIB), being pulled out of rules and brought to the floor, or being brought up during a special session. This is not to say that many bills aren’t considered really dead, but it is to say that there are often creative ways to keep bills (and hope!) alive.
So what happens next? Over the next 10 days, bills that were amended in the opposite house need to go back to the original house for concurrence or dispute. They then have to be voted on again by the original house. For example, SB 5152, concerning pediatric transitional care centers, was amended in the House. Because of that, the bill needed to go back to the Senate for concurrence or dispute. The Senate agreed with the changes made by the House, so they voted to concur. That being done, the bill now goes to the Governor for action.
If, however, the Senate had not agreed with the amendments, they would have said Do Not Concur and then sent the bill back to the House, asking the House to recede from their amendments. If the opposite house agrees to do that, great! The bill can move on. But if they do not agree to recede, the two houses would need to get together to resolve their differences, and hopefully re-pass the agreed-upon bill. Sounds complicated, but, believe it or not, the process moves along pretty quickly!
The legislative session will adjourn Sine Die on April 23rd, whether they have a budget or not. And at this point, given negotiations have not truly begun, it is extremely difficult to imagine that they will have an agreed-upon budget by then. The big question then becomes: Will the Governor call the legislature back immediately? Will he send them all home for some period of time, perhaps until there is an agreement on the budget? Will he send them home for a few days, then call them back but basically have pro forma sessions and have most legislators stay in-district? What we don’t know now we should know in a little over a week! Stay tuned!
Back to the issue of bills that did not advance through various cut-offs and the degree to which they are alive or dead. Take HB 1661, the bill establishing the Department of Children, Youth, and Families. Neither the House bill nor its Senate companion (SB 5498) advanced beyond Senate Ways & Means and would appear to be dead. Nevertheless, the bill is very much alive and is definitely being considered NTIB. This would not show up on leg.wa.gov, so if you were simply looking at the bill information on 1661, you would assume the bill is dead – but it definitely is not! And you wondered why the legislative process is compared to sausage-making!!
Note: Our comparison of the three budgets introduced to-date will be posted early next week. This budget comparison will include a number of items related to children, youth, and families, but will not be all-inclusive.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a good weekend!
Public Policy Director