Welcome to the first week of the 2018 legislative session!  Didn’t the 2017 session(s) just end??!!

This is a short session, meaning 60 days.  Granted there could be special sessions after that, but the plan is to get done on time.  Fingers crossed! 

A short session also means it’s a supplemental budget year – a year where the main focus is generally on making fixes/adjustments to the biennial budget.  That said, typically new investments are made, new policies passed, and many, many bills introduced.

Speaking of new bills being introduced, while this is not an exact number, there were apparently well over 700 bills already introduced this session…… Some in Dec. before session began, but most this week!  Clearly they won’t all get heard and all that get heard won’t pass, but, nonetheless, it’s a lot of bills in a very short period of time!

It is important to remember that bills introduced in the odd year (i.e. the first year of the biennium) are alive for both years of the biennium.  Where they start the process in the 2nd (even) year depends on where they ended up when the 1st (odd) year session ended.  For example, a bill that made it through the original house but died in committee or on the floor of the opposite house will go back to the Rules committee in the original house.  The proposed legislation then needs to be pulled out of Rules and voted on by the original house before going back to the opposite house.  In these situations the process goes pretty quickly and the opposite house could consider the bill early on in the session. 

We try to indicate on the 2018 tracker if a bill is from last session and may simply refer to the 2017 tracker for the summary and status information.  We may miss some bills, so please let us know if you have questions about a bill from last session you are not seeing on the current tracker!

Cut-off for bills to get out of the original policy committee is Feb. 2nd  -- three  more weeks!  And many committees use a good part of the “cut-off” week to do executive action (voting on the bills they have heard).  So, realistically, there are two plus more weeks of hearings. 

A bit more about this week….  On Monday, the first day of session, the House Appropriations committee took public testimony on the Governor’s budget.  On Tuesday, the Senate Ways and Means committee did the same.  The next two budgets will likely come out sometime in February, followed by negotiations and again, hopefully resolution by March 8th – the last day of the regular session!

While Jan. 15th, Martin Luther King Day, is a holiday for many, the legislature will be working….. In fact, the 60 days includes all weekends and holidays!  They probably won’t work every weekend, but I think we can expect that they will work some.  It will be a fast and furious session! Hang on tight! 

We hope you find the weekly updates and tracker useful.  We welcome feedback and want to thank you in advance for your interest in what the Washington state legislature is doing – particularly as it relates to issues related to children and families.

Please note:  All bills can be found on leg.wa.gov.  And, you can watch/listen to floor action and committee hearings (either live or later) on TVW.

Both leg.wa.gov and tvw.org are amazing resources! 

Have a good week!