Welcome to Week 16 of the 2015 Legislative Session!
It is now week 16 and the first week of the special session, which began on Wednesday, April 29th. So far, there does not appear to be much movement on the budget, but both the House and the Senate passed some bills that had reverted to Rules at the end of the regular session. For the most part, these are bills that were on the concurrence/dispute calendar, such as the Early Start Act (HB 1491). That bill had passed the House, was amended by the Senate, and was not going to be concurred on by the House. Although discussions were underway to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, they had not been completed by the time the legislature adjourned last Friday. So… The bill reverted to House Rules, in the form it was in when it passed the House. On Wednesday, the House passed the bill out of the House (again) and sent it to the Senate. The Senate will amend it and send it back to the House for either concurrence (if the differences are resolved before the Senate passes it out) or dispute… putting it right back where it was before the end of the regular session. In general, bills reverted to the House of Origin Rules Committee at the end of the regular session. They are then moved from Rules to the 3rd Reading Calendar in order to be voted on. It’s a bit confusing, but it’s the way the process works!
In addition to the floor action, the Senate Ways and Means Committee met to deal with some bills, and the House Appropriations Committee met to discuss various levy proposals, as well as another bill (HB 2239) also dealing with K-12 education and the McCleary decision.
At this point, it looks like the House and Senate members will probably head back to their districts and come to Olympia only when necessary. This is referred to as a rolling recess. They officially convene every day but then recess ‘subject to the call of the president’. It is hoped/expected that the budget writers will meet more frequently, although their schedule is typically not something the public has access to!
May 18th is the last day the Governor has to take action on bills, which presents a significant issue as he will have to decide whether to sign a bill that has a fiscal impact without knowing if the funding will be included in the final budget. With SB 5486 (Parents for Parents), he took the risk and signed the bill into law on the 25th! With other bills, he may not feel he can do that and therefore would be put in the position of having to veto all or part of a bill. The Governor’s staff are currently reviewing all the bills that passed and making recommendations to the Governor about what he should do… The next bill signing is today (May 1st), although, as of this writing, it is unclear what he will be taking action on.
While getting on with interim work is what we’d like to be doing, it will be difficult until the 2015 session truly ends. In the meantime, it is anticipated that meetings in district with legislators will begin taking place, and that many groups will start thinking about and planning for the 2016 legislative session!
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Have a good weekend!
Public Policy Director