Legislative Update from Olympia – Week 7

 

Week at a glance

 

  • Another policy committee cutoff hit. Today is the cutoff for bills to be voted out of the policy committee in the opposite chamber. For instance, a bill voted out the House and assigned to a Senate policy committee needs to be voted out of that committee by today in order to keep progressing.
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  • Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) bill did not make cutoff. Following the Feb. 19 public hearing on SHB 2282, the bill needed to be scheduled for an executive session and receive an affirmative vote in the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee by the Feb. 28 cutoff. Despite the Early Learning Regional Coalition (ELRC) members’ advocacy efforts, this did not happen, so the bill is stalled. However, nothing is truly “dead” until Sine Die – the last day of session.
     
    Most bills that are introduced each year do not become law. Advocates try year after year in some cases to pass the same bill. Taking that into consideration, the ELRCs did a great job getting the ELAC bill far along in the process. The House version of the bill was voted out of the House before it stalled. The Senate version of the bill received a good public hearing in the Senate. Thus, awareness was raised in both chambers. Additionally, the bill was endorsed by the Early Learning Action Alliance, which means early learning advocates were supportive of the bill and our institutional partners – DEL and the governor’s office – were clear that they value the voice and perspective that the ELRCs bring to ELAC. This all adds up to strong groundwork to approach the Legislature again on this issue. The ELRCs can be very proud of the work they did on this bill.
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  • Budget proposals being negotiated. The Senate has approved its budget proposal. The House released its proposal on Wednesday. The negotiations involving Gov. Jay Inslee, Democrats and Republicans in the House, and Majority Coalition Party and Democrats in the Senate (a.k.a. the “five corners”) will begin in earnest.

 

Key take-away

 

  • Early Start proposal awaits action from Senate Ways and Means Committee. Second Substitute House Bill 2377 awaits a public hearing and executive action (vote) in the Senate fiscal committee. SHB 2377 is not subject to the March 3 fiscal committee cutoff because it can be considered “Necessary to Implement the Budget,” or NTIB. Neither the Senate budget nor initial House budget proposals included funding for the components of Early Start. In the House, a number of revenue bills were introduced that, if passed, would help fund some policy items, including Early Start. That means the initial strategy is to fund those policies contingent on new revenue that would be available if the revenue bills passed.

 
 

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