They are done! The legislature adjourned Sine Die Thursday night after passing the transportation, capital, and operating budgets! We reported previously that the legislature approved $100m to address the Coronavirus and yesterday they increased the amount to $200m.
While many aspects of the session proceeded normally, the rapidly changing news about the virus, reports on the number of positive cases and deaths, and major announcements from the Governor, definitely changed the overall tenor of the Capitol campus.
With respect to the budget items on which we have been focusing, some of the dollar amounts changed but they were in the final budget, which turned out very well for children, youth, and families! We will send an updated chart comparing the budgets as soon as possible. Keep in mind, however, the Governor will need to review the budget and could veto aspects of it. So, we won’t know exactly what’s in and what’s not in the final budget until after his review.
Regarding the bill tracker, it was last updated Thursday evening; however, a number of bills had not yet been delivered to the Governor and by the time you receive this they likely were! If the tracker indicates that the bill is still in a policy committee, Rules, on the 2nd reading or any status other than President of the Senate/Speaker signed and then delivered to the Governor, it means the bill is dead. And, unlike the situation with bills introduced during the 1st year of the biennium that don’t make it to the finish line and are technically still alive in the 2nd year, bills that don’t make it through during the 2nd year of the biennium are dead and need to be reintroduced as a new bill.
Additionally, as with the budget, the Governor will review all of the bills passed by the legislature before determining whether to sign them into law, veto the whole bill, or do a partial veto (the Governor does not have line item veto authority but can veto a section). Note: If the Governor does not take any action the bill does not become a law.
On March 9th, the Governor announced new rules related to bill signings. Bottom line? No public bill signings. But they can be watched on TVW. To find out when a bill is being signed, go to https://www.governor.wa.gov/office-governor/official-actions/bill-action
Check regularly as there often isn’t much advance notice!
How long does the Governor have to take action on bills? Bills that are delivered . the governor more than five days before the Legislature adjourns have five days to be acted on. Bills that are delivered fewer than five days before the Legislature adjourns have 20 days to be acted on by the governor. Saturdays and state holidays are not included in the count, however Sundays are not.
The first day of the session, January 14th, seems like a very long time ago. A lot has happened since then; most notably and sadly the onset of the Coronavirus. We don’t know what will happen over the next days, weeks, months, or years. But we are grateful that the legislature passed a number of extremely positive bills and a budget that puts resources towards children, youth and families. We’re also grateful that there are people like you who followed and participated in the legislative process.
We welcome feedback regarding our weekly trackers and how improve our reporting. Also know that the case that the legislature may need to come back before January to adjust the budget, depending on what happens to our economy as a result of the Coronavirus. We’ll keep you posted!
Thank you so much for your involvement. Have a good interim!