Welcome to the recap of week two! As you can see by the length of the Partners for Our Children bill tracker, legislators have been busy introducing, hearing, and exec’ing (passing bills out of committee) bills. Everything moves so quickly during a short session. In fact, the first cut-off for bills to get out of their committee of origin is Feb. 3rd and the fiscal cut-off in the house of origin is just four days later, on Feb 7th! It definitely will be a challenge to hear all of the policy bills that have a fiscal impact in that brief amount of time. Long days and nights in the future of legislators on the fiscal committees, staff, and advocates!

In addition to bills, a significant number of budget provisos are in development. A budget proviso is language, usually but not always, associated with a dollar amount, included in the budget. There are parameters around what can be done in terms of policy changes through the budget, and for the most part the change/funding only lasts for the life of the budget (either one or two years). Once passed, the budget becomes law and many changes can be addressed through a proviso. A few examples likely to be a proviso are a study, the creation of a work group (particularly if time limited), a rate increase, and funding for various programs. Provisos are a way to direct the state agency that receives the funding to spend it in a prescribed manner! 

COVID/Omicron continues to dictate how the legislature conducts their business. Weeks one and two were remote and it looks like week three will be as well. What happens in weeks four and beyond will be assessed as time goes on. Remote session continues to impact the number of individuals weighing in on bills. Hundreds - and sometimes thousands - of people have signed in (thankfully not all to testify!) to state their position. I don’t know how legislators and staff feel about the very large numbers, but it sure seems like more residents in Washington state are paying attention to the activities going on in the legislative arena!

The P4C bill tracker is up and running and we want to highlight a few bills this week:

SB5793, the bill addressing compensation/stipends for people with ‘lived experience’ who participate on agencies/boards/advisory committees/etc. was heard in the Senate State Government committee and is on for executive action today! 

HB1747, the bill focusing on placement with relatives and guardianships will be heard on 1/24 in the House Children, Youth and Families committee

HB1800 and HB1890, two bills, both related to children/youth behavioral health, were exec’d out of the House Children, Youth and Families committee yesterday! 

For summaries and information about the status of many, many, many other bills, check out the tracker!

Remember, leg.wa.gov is a great resource, as is tvw.org! Have a great week.                                                                                                                                                         

As ever, let us know if you have any questions, concerns, ideas etc.