This week was mainly about Rules and floor action! The cut-off for bills to be out of fiscal committee of origin was last Friday (March 1st). Since then, the focus has been on getting bills out of Rules and onto the floor of the House or Senate for a vote. It is a nail biting time; if bills don't make it out of the house of origin they are dead... well, unless they get amended onto a living bill...or are deemed down the road as 'necessary to implement the budget' (NTIB), or are brought back to life another way!
When bills are in Rules, there are no hearings and no opportunities for input from non-members of the committee. The member 'pulling' the bill from the white to the green sheet (the first step in the process) simply identifies the bill number that the person wants to move. Then, the next time the Rules committee meets, that member or another member can move the bill from the green sheet to the 2nd reading calendar. At this time the member pulling the bill can explain the bill and the committee might have a discussion. Generally the discussion, if there is one at all, is brief, with perhaps one or two people making comments. Some bills are put on a package pull list (generally non-controversial bills) or a leadership pull list (typically there isn't any discussion, and the package is pulled by leadership). Leadership can also decide that bills can be pulled from the white or green sheet to the 2nd reading calendar. When they do, it saves time and gets more bills to the floor more quickly!
Members of the Rules committee are often bombarded with requests for pulls, from other legislators as well as lobbyists, constituents, and other advocates/stakeholders. There are A LOT of bills that need to get through Rules, limited meetings, and a limited amount of time. The cut-off for bills to get out of the house of origin is March 13th. While that seems like a ways down the road, it's actually next Wednesday. Time goes by quickly, and, before we know it, we'll be back in policy committee hearings!
Regarding the Partners for Our Children bill tracker --we update it every Friday and the status column indicates where the bill is in the legislative process. If it indicates the bill is still in the original committee or in the fiscal committee of origin, it really means that the bill is dead. Again things can happen where a bill can come back to life but for the most part, if a bill does not make it out of the policy and fiscal committees by the respective cut-off dates, it is dead. We leave the bills on the tracker for reference and, when things change, we report it. We also report when bills are officially dead. We continue to include amendments and substitutes for some, but not, all of the bills. If you want more comprehensive information about any bill, we encourage you to check out the Washington state legislature website.
The March 13th cut-off is rapidly approaching, and so is March 20th, the day the legislature will get a new revenue forecast. This forecast helps determine how much money they can spend in the 2019-2020 biennium, and how much is needed to continue doing what the state is doing, as well as other priorities. We are all keeping our fingers crossed that the forecast is very positive!!
That's it for now! Have a good week, and here's to your priority bills getting out of their house of origin!
Questions? Concerns? Contact Nicole Sadow-Hasenberg, Communications Manager, Partners for Our Children.