Week at a glance
- “House of origin” cutoff. Feb. 18 at 5 p.m. was the deadline for bills to be voted out of their houses of origin. To give you an idea of the odds, about 37 percent of the bills introduced in the House passed that chamber; on the Senate side, about 25 percent of bills clear. These surviving bills must endure the same process in the opposite chamber (i.e., public hearing and vote in policy committee, public hearing and vote in a fiscal committee if the bill costs money to implement, then full chamber vote) before heading to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk for action.
- Work now focused on budget writing. The quarterly revenue forecast released Feb. 18 showed a slight increase ($30 million) in expected state revenue. While this is generally positive news, it is not enough of an increase to translate into any increased spending in the supplemental budget from the Legislature. The first supplemental budget proposal is expected from the Legislature early next week. From there, both chambers will debate and negotiate. A final supplemental budget bill must be passed this year, and any bills that cost money to be implemented this fiscal year must be funded in the supplemental budget.
- Early Learning Regional Coalitions (ELRC) had successful public hearing on Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) bill. On Feb. 19, SHB 2282 received a public hearing in the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. Representing Thrive by Five Washington, I provided positive testimony in support of the bill along with Casey Osborn-Hinman of Children’s Alliance representing the Early Learning Action Alliance and Helen Myrick of United Way of Pierce County representing Pierce County Early Learning Regional Coalition. In addition, a long list of representatives from other coalitions was read as being supportive. Overall, the hearing was a positive step for the bill, which aims to give one representative from each of the 10 ELRCs a permanent voting seat on ELAC.
The next step of SHB 2282 is to be voted out of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee on/by the Feb. 28 cutoff. The coalitions are doing outreach in hopes of getting the bill voted out of committee. If that happens, the bill will then need to be voted off the floor of the Senate.
- Early Start proposal in Senate. Second Substitute House Bill 2377 passed the House on Feb. 19 with a vote of 64-33 (and 1 excused). The bill has been assigned to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which means it has bypassed the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee, or the “policy” committee. This means the first discussion in the Senate on the House version of the bill will be focused on the fiscal impacts.
- Pace of work in Olympia will remain rapid until the last day. The environment in Olympia during a short session (even numbered years) is fast-paced and issues evolve very quickly. The pace will remain swift as cutoffs will approach quickly until the last scheduled day of session on March 13.