Week one:  We are making it through a very busy and, for some, snowy first week of the 2020 legislative session.  As is often the case, the session started out with hearings in the fiscal committees on the Governor’s budget, work sessions, lobby days, hearings on a number of policy bills, and the introduction of many, many bills!

Bills that did not pass in 2019 are still alive, and many are back in the mix for action this session.  Also, legislators started filing their bills before session began; they are  now better positioned for hearings early on in the short, 60 day session.

This is a short session so there aren’t many weeks before the 1st cut-off, the day when bills have to be out of their committee of origin (this year it’s February 7).  By cut-off, a number of introduced bills will not be heard and many that were heard will probably not go very far.  But many will!

One major area focus this session is early learning.  Important House and Senate bills will be heard next week; bills that deal with affordability, access, quality and more.  We will also be very involved with a number of child welfare, anti-poverty, juvenile justice and children’s behavioral health bills.  And of course, SB5290, the bill that passed last session ending the option of detention for status offenders goes into effect on July 1st.  That means that the first cohort of youth impacted, youth involved in a Child in Need of Services petition and youth on the run from foster care, can no longer be detained for violation of a court order but since that does not mean they don’t need services, etc., there will be proposals this session to start establishing alternative to detention!

A big change this session has to do with paper!  Due to environmental and records disclosure issues, many/most legislators are going paperless!  The legislative information center (aka bill room) also has new rules about what they can copy, how many pages, charging for copies, etc.  So…. prepare to be adaptable!

The Partners for Our Children weekly bill tracker consists of many bills that are relevant to children, youth and families.  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 using their bill tracker.

Hearings can be watched on TVW.    There truly are many good ways to stay on top of what’s happening in Olympia!