The weeks are flying by! We have only one more to go before the cut-off deadline (February 7th) for bills to be out of policy committees. Then, the House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to meet on Saturday, February 8th (likely well into the night). Currently the Senate Ways and Means Committee is not scheduled for a meeting on the 8th; however, that could change!
The fiscal committee cut-off is February 11th, and many bills simply won't make it given the number of bills coming out of the policy committees and the short window to get bills heard and passed in the fiscal committees. It is also possible that a number of bills will be turned into budget provisos. Budget provisos direct actions and/or resources to a particular effort, however, they don't permanently change the statute because the budget bill (aka law) is only good for the remainder of the biennium, until June 30, 2021. Bills creating workgroups or funding studies or addressing an issue that can be taken care of in one year, are often ripe for being turned into a proviso! Whatever the case may be, this is a nerve-wracking time for legislators and advocates, as many people are vying for minimally available time to get many, many, bills through the fiscal committees!
And speaking of getting bills through, both of the comprehensive early learning bills were passed out of their respective policy committees and are heading to the fiscal committees. As of this writing, the fiscal notes for the bills are not yet public, so the cost associated with the bills is not yet known.
Also passed out of the policy committees (unanimously!) were the Family Connections Program bills (HB2525 and SB6422). This Program could make a tremendous difference with respect to the culture of foster care, and as apparent with the unanimous votes, is resonating with a number of legislators. Despite the resonance there's no guarantee that the bills will be heard and passed in the fiscal committees or for that matter, passed by the legislature! (Please note: Partners for Our Children has a new issue brief about the importance of relationships between parents and caregivers that includes information about the Family Connections Program.)
Before bills come out of the policy committees they are often amended. While we will include amendments related to some of the bills in the Partners for Our Children weekly bill tracker, we aren't able to summarize all the amendments on all of the bills. Therefore, if you are particularly interested in a bill that we haven't tracked the amendments, you can check leg.wa.gov to see if the bill was amended!
As many of you know, considerable attention is on issues related to homelessness this session. And, as a result, a considerable number of housing/homelessness related bills have been introduced. In future weekly updates, we will provide a link to the WA Low Income Housing Alliance's bill tracker so that you can get a comprehensive sense of the bills, where they are, etc. We have a lot of overlap, but not all, so please do look at their tracker too.
That's it for week three! Have a wonderful weekend.
Stay up-to-date on bills
Please use the Partners for Our Children weekly bill tracker which we update every Friday. We track many bills relevant to children, youth, and families throughout the legislative session. While we will track a large number of bills, we don't track them all and sometimes we miss important relevant legislation. If you think we've missed one (or more) that is relevant, please let us know. Also, if our brief summaries miss the mark, let us know that too! We are very open to feedback. Because of the breadth of many bills, we also want to remind you that you can review the complete text of any bill on www.leg.wa.gov
Contact Laurie Lippold, State Policy Director and/or Nicole Sadow-Hasenberg, Communications Manager, Partners for Our Children
Thanks for your continued interest in issues
related to children, youth, and families!