Welcome to Week 20 of the 2015 Legislative Session

Sine Die – again! Yesterday was the last day of the first special session, and unfortunately, there was no agreement on the budget. So, the Governor is calling the legislature back for a second special session to begin today, May 29th, at 9:00am. It is anticipated that the budget negotiators will meet more often, if not every day, with the expectation that progress reports will be given to the Governor on a regular basis. While it is clear that no one wants to shut down state government on July 1st (if a budget agreement cannot be reached), there are still significant discrepancies with the House and Senate budgets, as well as a different perspective on the need to raise additional revenue/taxes.

However, yesterday, on the last day of the first special session, the Senate introduced and passed a revised budget out of the Ways and Means Committee. There was no public hearing on the new proposed budget, and in general, the most significant changes were not made in the aspects of the budget we have been most involved with.

On Monday, June 1st, the House will release a new budget proposal and will have a public hearing on it in the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, June 2nd. The degree to which it moves towards the Senate budget remains to be seen. However, in the proposed Senate budget, some of the key differences – collective bargaining, funding for state parks, drought relief, and a few other areas – appear to have moved closer to the House position, so it’ll be interesting to see where the House budget moves.

While the primary focus of the special session has been on the operating budget, the legislature did pass a transportation package, along with a number of bills. If a bill re-passed out of one house, but not the other, it will have to go back to the original house during the second special session in order to be considered again. One bill that we have tracked, SB 5317, requires Medicaid to pay for recommended developmental and autism screens. Funding was included in both the House and Senate budgets, but the bill had originally died. Then lo and behold, the Senate Rules Committee pulled the bill out and passed it on the 28th. It then went to the House, where it was brought to the floor and passed. The bill will head to the Governor soon. It goes to show that you just never know what a day in Olympia might bring!

If you are interested in more information about the new Senate budget proposal, it can be found at LEAP.leg.wa.gov. In addition, if you’re interested, you can watch media availabilities from both House Democrats and Senate Republicans either live or in the archives on TVW. This brief TVW story also provides a good overview of the end of the first special session and the Senate budget proposal.

Here’s to a short second special session!

If you have any questions, email us at info@partnersforourchildren.org. Also, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates on our work during the legislative session and throughout the year.

Have a good weekend!

Laurie Lippold

Public Policy Director