The big event this week was the release and passage of the Senate budget. The budget came out on Tuesday, passed out of Ways and Means on Wednesday, and was passed by the Senate on Thursday (or actually, early Friday morning!). A more in-depth look at the budget will be available over the next week, but a few key aspects include investments in foster care, homeless youth, and mental health (primarily adult-related); and cuts to the state’s subsidized child care program (Working Connections Child Care), TANF, the Housing and Essential Needs program (HENS), and services for homeless young adults. The number of ‘slots’ for home visiting services seems to have remained status quo. There was no funding included for the establishment of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF); however, that should not be taken to mean that there won’t be support as we continue to move through the process.
On the House side, it is expected that the House budget will be released and heard on Monday, March 27th. Once the House passes their budget, negotiations will ramp up; however, most still believe the session will not really end on April 23rd – the 105th day of the 105-day session!
It is important to keep in mind that bills introduced the first year of a biennium are alive for two years. In other words, if a bill dies in committee or on the floor, or wherever, it is really still alive and can come up again next session. This is often why legislators introduce bills well after cut-off. This session, we have also seen a number of bills introduced, heard, and passed after cut-off – bills that have been deemed Necessary to Implement the Budget (NTIB). While there isn’t really a common definition for NTIB, it generally refers to bills that are referenced in the budget and/or have an impact on funding the budget. Bills identified as NTIB don’t have to face the same cut-offs and can stay in the mix until the budget is resolved… whenever that may be!
We try to capture the most recent amendments on key bills in our Bill Tracker. For any bills we haven't covered, check out leg.wa.gov to find out exactly if and how the bills you are most interested in have been amended. Also, please note that the site can sometimes take a while to update, so you may need to check more than once!
The trees and flowers are starting to bloom in Olympia… which is one benefit of a long session! Stay tuned for more information about the Senate budget, a recap of the House budget (next week’s update), and more news about the fate of key bills, such as the children’s mental health bills, the DCYF bill, and a number of bills related to homelessness and other safety net programs.
Have a good week!
Public Policy Director