Legislative Update from Olympia – Week 5

 

Week at a glance

 

  • Fiscal committee cutoff hit; bills still moving face more steps. Feb. 11 was the cutoff for bills that cost money to implement to be voted out of the fiscal committees. This was the second cutoff (the first being the policy committee cutoff) and was another indicator of what bills have “legs” or the will to keep moving.
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  • Big win for Early Learning Regional Coalitions (ELRCs). The bill (HB 2282) that aims to establish permanent voting seats for one representative from each of the 10 ELRCs received a very strong, bipartisan vote in the House on Feb. 11. The vote count was 90-8 yes. The bipartisan vote in the House helps build the case in the Senate (which is controlled by the predominantly Republican Majority Coalition Caucus) that this bill has a strong base of support from Republicans. The bill awaits a hearing and vote in the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee; it must receive a hearing and affirmative vote in that Senate committee on/by the Feb. 28 cutoff.
     
    The Senate companion bill to HB 2282, SB 6520, did not progress out of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. It is considered “dead.” Thus, the house version, HB 2282, is the vehicle to keep this issue alive.

 

Key take-aways

 

  • Key bills are still alive. Along with HB 2282, Early Start (HB 2377) is still moving. HB 2377 awaits debate and vote on the House floor. It is good news both bills are still alive at this juncture. Yet much work remains, on very swift timelines.
     
    There are a couple significant conversations happening now in regards to refining HB 2377. One, ensuring that the most vulnerable children receive quality early learning. This means including solutions so that providers who serve the children furthest from opportunity are adequately supported in raising their quality. Two, overall cost of the bill remains a concern.
     
    A new fiscal note reflects lower costs in the out years (2015-2017 biennium and 2017-2019 biennium) due mainly to considering significant costs savings from a switch to electronic attendance gathering and removing the costs for gathering student data through TS Gold since it is being capture as part of WaKIDS.
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  • More work remains for bills to become law. The next cutoff relates to bills being voted out of their house of origin on/by Feb. 18. In other words, House bills must be voted off the House floor and Senate bills must be voted off the Senate floor. If that happens, the bill goes to the opposite chamber to endure the same process (i.e., hearing and vote in policy committee, hearing and vote in fiscal committee if it costs money to implement, a vote off the full floor). If it passes both chambers, it must be signed by Gov. Jay Inslee. But the governor has section veto authority, meaning he can veto any section or sections of a bill that has passed the Legislature. Thus, while getting past two cutoffs (policy and fiscal) is a good sign at this point in session, much work remains for a bill to become law. See cutoff calendar here.

 

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