This week in the legislature (week seven), budget writing committees and floor action—both of which can be unpredictable—will take over. That’s because Friday marked the cutoff for all policy bills to make it out of committee.
While this cutoff is intended to cleanly separate policy bills from fiscal bills, nothing is ever really dead until session is adjourned. That may be particularly true in a year when the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus holds a one-vote lead over Democrats in the Senate. With that thin of a margin, anyone could be the 25th vote on the budget, and anyone's pet bill could get resuscitated in the final hours to hold the MCC's majority together on negotiations with the House.
Regardless of potential end-of-session surprises, policy cutoff offers a pretty good indicator of where things stand. As you peruse the list, you might also note a pattern: Many of the Democratic sponsored bills from the Democratic House have companion bills that didn’t get a hearing in the Republican Senate, and vice versa. No surprise that the two chambers aren’t seeing eye to eye on many issues – yet.
SB 8203 is a Republican-sponsored bill that would have allowed students to be searched by school resource officers without a warrant. The House version is also dead.
SJR 8209 would have declared higher education the state’s second highest priority. This bipartisan bill was sent to the Ways and Means committee without a recommendation from the lower committee.
SB 5693 would have dedicated a portion of the sales tax to higher education. This is another bipartisan bill sent to Ways and Means without a recommendation.
Government & Taxes
SB 5071, sponsored by Republicans who otherwise love the will of the voters (as in Tim Eyman's 1185 rule that you can't raise taxes without a two-thirds majority), would have allowed hydropower to count as a renewable resource—in defiance of I-937, the 2006 renewable energy energy that voters approved 52-48.
SB 5820 is a Republican bill that would have suspend the Growth Management Act in counties with an unemployment rate of 7 percent or higher for 3 months. Let’s try this again: A bill to eliminate the Growth Management Act.
SB 5737 is a Democratic-sponsored bill that would have banned assault rifles.
HB 1091 is a Republican bill that sought to change how presidential electors are elected—basically giving the Republican minority in Washington state a few electoral college votes by awarding the votes per congressional district rather than winner takes all.
SB 5143 would have made helmet use optional for motorcyclists age 18 and over. It was sponsored mostly by Republicans with one hog-loving Democrat, Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-24, Hoquiam).
HB 1452/SB 5237 would hold back students who don’t pass third grade reading assessments. The Republican-sponsored bill passed the House education committee, the Senate companion bill passed out of the education and budget-writing committees and is awaiting a floor vote.
SB 5328 would give schools a grade of A through F based on an accountability index. The bipartisan bill passed the Early Learning Committee and awaits a floor vote.
HB 1680 sought to close the opportunity gap by implementing strategies recommended by the Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee. The Democratic sponsored bill is awaiting consideration by the Appropriations Committee.
Business and Labor
SB 5127 would allow workers age 40 and older to negotiate a settlement for a portion of their workers’ compensation claim. The Majority Coalition Caucus version passed the Senate and was sent to the House, where a companion bill didn’t get a hearing. Watch for this one to be key in the budget negotiations.
SB 5128, which angered labor for scaling back workers' compensation claims, would allow any injured worker to take a structured settlement and create a return-to-work provision for light duty work. It passed the Senate and was referred to the Labor committee in the House, where a companion bill didn’t get a hearing.
SB 5112 is another of the MCC’s workers’ comp "reforms" – this one giving some employers more power over medical exams for injured workers. A companion bill in the House didn’t get a hearing.
SB 5275 would allow small businesses to pay a “training wage” of 75 percent of minimum wage to up to 10 percent of their workforce. The Republican bill might be more accurately called a “new employee wage,” as Democrats have pointed out there’s no actual training required. A House version of the bill had a hearing but died in committee.
HB 1313 would require employers to cover “sick and safe leave.” The Democratic-sponsored House version has a hearing on Tuesday in the Appropriations committee, but a Senate bill version failed to make it out of committee.
On the flip side...
SB 5159 would repeal the family and medical leave insurance act. The Republican sponsored bill is waiting for a floor vote in the Rules Committee.
HB 1457 would expand and fund the family and medical insurance program created by the Legislature in 2007. The Democratic-sponsored House version of the bill cleared the policy committee and was sent to the Finance committee:
Government and Taxes
HB 1661 is a bipartisan bill to erase misdemeanor marijuana convictions for anyone 21 or over busted before Initiative 502 went into effect.
HB 1413, known as the Washington Voting Rights Act, passed out of committee. The bill, which would give minority blocs in at-large elections recourse when discriminatory voting patterns exist, is sponsored by Democrats.
HB 1233 would add health to the policy goals of state transportation planning. Rep. Jay Rodne (R-5, N. Bend) may have lambasted the Democratic bill, but it’s still viable – at least until it gets to the Senate.
SB 5802, is Governor Jay Inslee’s climate bill to set standards for greenhouse gas reductions, sponsored mostly by Democrats along with Sen. Steve Litzow (R-41, Mercer Island).
HB 1734 is a Democratic-sponsored bill to allow Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients to collect benefits for longer than 5 years if they meet certain criteria. The Senate version of the bill failed to pass out of committee, but the House version awaits consideration in Appropriations.
HB 1044—the Reproductive Parity Act—would require insurance plans that cover maternity care to also cover abortion. The House passed the bill with 53 votes Friday morning, sending it to the Senate, where a similar bill didn’t even get a hearing. Though mostly Democrats support it, Sen. Steve Litzow (R-41, Mercer Island) is a strong supporter. And putting him in an awkward spot: MCC leader Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Medina) is also says he's a supporter.
HB 1294 would prohibit certain flame retardant toxic chemicals from kids' toys and household furniture. The Senate version of the bill infamously flamed out in committee, but the House version is still alive and has been sent to the finance committee. Both versions were sponsored by Democrats.
HB 1588 would require universal background checks for prospective gun buyers, eliminating the gun show loophole and requiring private buyers to go through background checks as well. The bill is sponsored by Democrats; A companion bill in the Senate didn’t get a hearing.
HB 1114 is a bipartisan effort to expand involuntary commitments for people with mental illness. A companion bill is in the Rules committee, awaiting a floor vote in the Senate.
Kooky (or maybe classist—Niki's editors)
HB 1412 is a new kind of unfunded mandate: High school seniors would have to complete community service before graduation if this bipartisan bill passes. The hours would be set by the school board – currently, some school districts require students to volunteer anywhere between 10 and 100 hours.