28 02, 2020

This Week in the Senate – Week 8: Marathon floor action

February 28th, 2020|This Week in the Senate|

This week, bills must make it through two additional cutoffs (a fiscal cutoff and a floor cutoff) in order to continue their journey toward becoming law.


Senate Ways & Means

FISCAL CUTOFF (OPPOSITE HOUSE)
Monday, March 2
Senate Ways & Means Committee: 10 a.m., then 1:30 p.m. in SHR 4
Senate Transportation Committee: 1:30 p.m. in SHR 1

All House bills that impact the budget must be passed out of the Senate Ways & Means or Transportation committee by end of day Monday. And, all of the Senate bills with a budget impact must be passed out of the House Appropriations or Transportation committee.


Senate Floor

MARATHON FLOOR ACTION
Tuesday, March 3 – Friday, March 6
Senate Floor

Senators will spend much of their time on the floor Tuesday through Friday considering House bills that have previously been passed off the House floor and out of Senate committees. Floor session is currently scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. each day, but the schedule is subject to change. Full weekly schedules can be found here.


Senate Floor

FLOOR CUTOFF (OPPOSITE HOUSE)
Friday, March 6
Senate Floor

All House bills must be passed of the Senate floor, and all Senate bills must be passed off of the House floor in order to continue through the legislative process. Bills will then head to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk for signing or to conference to reach agreement on amendments.

The Senate will begin consideration of the final bill by 5 p.m.


 

27 02, 2020

Senate passes budget focused on homelessness, working families

February 27th, 2020|News Release|

OLYMPIA – The 2020 supplemental operating budget (SB 6168) passed today by the Senate directs an additional $115 million to critical investments to address the state’s homelessness crisis.

The Senate proposal was approved on a 33-16 vote and includes nearly $1 billion in new spending overall, including significant increases for childcare and early learning as well as a historic investment to speed up financing and construction of the new UW Medicine Behavioral Health Teaching Facility.

“With this budget, we are able to address three of the biggest challenges our state faces — affordable housing and homelessness, behavioral health, and climate change,” said Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and chief budget writer. “This is a realistic, sustainable and responsible budget that will make a difference in people’s daily lives while also leaving the state in a historically strong fiscal position.”

The proposed budget supplements the $52.4 billion, two-year budget passed by lawmakers last year while reserving $2.9 billion in the state’s rainy day fund to guard against a downturn in the economy.

The budget also includes an additional $10 million – with flexibility built in – to support local health officials as they prepare to respond to the global coronavirus outbreak.

“We have strengthened funding for foundational public health over the last several years, and we build in flexibility to ensure our health departments have the resources they need to respond to any public health threat,” Rolfes said.

Other highlights of the budget include additional funding for K-12 special education programs, election security, rural health clinics, and nursing homes.

Highlights of the 2020 Supplemental Budget Proposal

The Senate proposal invests $315 million in one-time revenue projected in the February forecast, including:

  • $115 million to address homelessness by increasing shelter capacity and keeping vulnerable families housed.
  • $100 million to address the climate crisis by investing in communities and projects to enhance mitigation and resiliency.
  • $100 million toward a new UW Behavioral Health Hospital, which lawmakers approved in 2019 to address a workforce shortage and a lack of adequate beds for patients.

Several other funding increases include:

  • $128 million in K-12 education dollars for local levy assistance ($46M), special education ($21M), pupil transportation ($41M), paraeducator training ($12M), and other increases.
  • $184 million in health care dollars for managed care ($61M), primary care physician rate increases ($10M), rural health clinics ($34M), family planning ($8M), and other increases.
  • $116 million to the state Dept. of Children and Families to reduce childcare rates for working families ($27M), strengthen the foster care system ($20M), expand early learning programs ($5M), and other increases.

Other budget items of note include:

  • $33.7 million to support struggling nursing homes by increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates.
  • $20 million for wildfire suppression and prevention.
  • $10 million for enhanced election technology and security.
  • $10 million to cover the costs associated with the coronavirus outbreak, including a dedicated call center, monitoring, and support for local health jurisdictions.

Click here to find budget documents and summaries.

About the Supplemental Budget
Supplemental budgets are passed in even years and allow the state to make mid-course corrections to the two-year budgets passed in odd years. It gives the state the opportunity to adjust spending to keep families safe, provide high-quality education, and address other emergent needs like mental health care.

25 02, 2020

Senate transportation budget addresses I-976 funding crisis, restarts stuck projects

February 25th, 2020|News Release|

The Senate on Tuesday unveiled the 2020 supplemental transportation budget. Normally a document used to make minor tweaks and updates to the statewide transportation needs, this version of the supplemental budget is introduced at a time when Washington’s transportation funding is at a crossroads.

This budget utilizes one-time balancing methods that provide a short-term fix, but does not attempt to address the larger, longer-term transportation budget crisis the Legislature must address next session.

“I’ve chaired the Transportation Committee for the last three years and been a member of the committee for nearly a decade. I can honestly say putting together this supplemental budget was one of the more challenging tasks of my tenure,” said Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens). “The well has run dry in terms of transportation funding and this budget is an excellent representation of that.”

Gas tax revenues, the primary source of revenue that funds state transportation priorities, have steadily declined in recent years. The passage of Initiative 976 supplied another deep hit to transportation coffers by slashing passenger and light truck weight fees, passenger vehicle license fees and other revenue sources used for infrastructure improvements and multimodal services throughout Washington. I-976 will eliminate $453 million in state funds in the 2019-21 biennium and the loss will increase in the next biennium to $684.6 million.

Because of all these factors, this year’s supplemental budget has undergone something of a belt tightening. Budget writers sought creative solutions in how they deal with I-976 and a yet-to-come Supreme Court decision on its constitutionality.

The supplemental budget totals nearly $10.5 billion, including re-appropriations for delayed capital project activity, cost increases and reduced appropriations to account for the significant revenue reductions brought on by I-976.

However, I-976 is just the latest challenge to transportation revenue. Since the March 2019 transportation revenue forecast, transportation revenue projections are down $344 million (5.1 percent) in the 2019-21 biennium and $2.6 billion (7.4 percent) over the 10-year forecast horizon.

“Transportation revenue was drying up prior to the passage of I-976. The initiative took things from bad to devastating,” Hobbs said. “We had to get creative to make sure the state’s priorities were met. Moving money around like this is something that can only be done once. We are looking at a significant budget shortfall in January without new revenue.”

The budget assumes a general underrun of $402 million. That includes $200 million in highway capital, $26.8 million in public transportation capital, $66.5 million in local program capital in addition to other agency efficiencies. The budget includes “trigger” language that restores $121.7M in expenditure reductions should I-976 be overturned.

Addressing I-976 in this way provides the Governor with the ability to take all of the highway, local, rail, and public transportation projects off of his pause and delay lists.

“The Senate’s supplemental transportation budget takes a realistic approach to addressing our state’s transportation challenges in light of available revenue and the uncertainty over the fate of Initiative 976,” said Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima and ranking Republican on the Senate Transportation Committee. “This is not the type of budget we would have liked to have been able to move forward but it is a budget that puts us on a prudent path that is needed at this time.”

Other areas of interest in the 2019-21 supplemental transportation budget include:

CULVERTS

$175 million in Connecting Washington funds is transferred to the 2019-21 biennium to fund fish passage barrier removal, bringing the total to $275 million this biennium to help fully fund the cost of complying with a Supreme Court injunction by 2030.

FERRIES

  • $10.9 million increase for Seattle Terminal Replacement.
  • $5.4 million for additional staffing costs, including $4.4 million for vessel crew overtime and $1 million for additional terminal staffing costs.
  • $4.2 million for training including for crew qualification, break-in training for reassignments, evacuation slide training, and electronic navigation training.
  • $4.3 million in savings due to the retirement of the MV Elwha ferry vessel, one of two vessels capable of sailing internationally. The retirement avoids $19 million in capital costs and reduces operating costs by $3 million per year. Washington State Ferries will move its only reserve boat, the Sealth, into regular service.

WASHINGTON STATE PATROL

  • $975,000 to replace reduced Enhanced 911 revenue supporting emergency dispatch services in King County.
  • $830,000 for additional information technology security efforts.
  • $7.1 million in savings from updated projections of WSP trooper and non-field force staff vacancies.
24 02, 2020

Senate budget proposal targets homelessness, early learning and childcare, climate resiliency

February 24th, 2020|News Release|

OLYMPIA – Senate Democrats today unveiled their 2020 supplemental operating budget, proposing to invest an additional $115 million this year to directly address the state’s homelessness crisis.

“This is a realistic, sustainable and responsible budget that will make a difference in people’s daily lives,” said Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and chief budget writer. “Our economy remains strong and our state’s bond rating is at historic highs, but we also recognize the growing needs of our growing state.

“I’m proud this budget makes targeted investments without any new taxes. It’s a budget that reflects the values of our great state by promoting strong families, healthy communities, and an economy that works for everyone across the state.”

The Senate proposal includes nearly $1 billion in new spending, including significant increases in funding for childcare and early learning as well as a historic investment to address climate change impacts across the state. The proposed investments will strengthen the $52.4 billion, two-year budget passed by lawmakers last year while reserving a total of $2.9 billion in the state rainy day fund to guard against a downturn in the economy.

“This is a smart budget that will make critical investments while leaving our state’s finances on solid footing when we return next January to write the next biennial budget,” Rolfes said. “I look forward to passing our budget off the Senate floor later this week and working with my colleagues in the House to deliver a strong, balanced budget to the governor and finish the people’s work on time.”

Highlights of the 2020 Supplemental Budget Proposal

The Senate proposal uses $315 million in one-time revenue received in the February forecast to invest:

  • $115 million to address homelessness by increasing shelter capacity and keeping vulnerable families housed.
  • $100 million to address the climate crisis by investing in communities and projects to enhance mitigation and resiliency.
  • $100 million toward a new UW Behavioral Health Hospital, which lawmakers approved in 2019 to address a workforce shortage and a lack of adequate beds for patients.

The Senate proposal makes several other funding increases:

  • $128 million in K-12 education spending for local levy assistance ($46M), special education ($21M), pupil transportation ($41M), paraeducator training ($12M), and other increases.
  • $184 million in health care spending for managed care ($61M), primary care physician rate increases ($10M), rural health clinics ($34M), family planning ($8M), and other increases.
  • $116 million to the state Dept. of Children and Families to reduce childcare rates for working families ($27M), strengthen the foster care system ($20M), expand early learning programs ($5M), and other increases.

Other budget items of note include:

  • $33.7 million to support struggling nursing homes by increasing Medicaid rates.
  • $20 million for wildfire suppression and prevention.
  • $10 million for enhanced election technology and security.
  • $5 million to cover the costs associated with the coronavirus outbreak, including dedicated call center, monitoring, and support for local health jurisdictions.

Click here to find budget LEAP documents and summaries.

About the Supplemental Budget
Supplemental budgets are passed in even years and allow the state to make mid-course corrections to the two-year budget passed in odd years. It gives the state the opportunity to adjust its spending to keep families safe, provide high-quality education, and address other emergent needs like mental health care.

21 02, 2020

This Week in the Senate – Week 7: Budgets and another cutoff

February 21st, 2020|This Week in the Senate|

This week, House and Senate Democrats will unveil their supplemental operating and transportation budgets, giving the first look at what could be funded during the 2020 legislative session. The session will also hit another cutoff on Friday, with all policy bills needing to be passed out of their opposite house committees in order to stay alive.


Senator Christine Rolfes

BUDGET ROLLOUT MEDIA AVAILABILITY
Monday, Feb. 24
1:45 p.m., Senate Democratic Caucus Room

Senate Democratic Caucus leaders will give their first look at the 2020 supplemental operating budget. A public hearing on the budget will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.


Football

SPORTS BETTING
Monday, Feb. 24
10 a.m., SHR 1

The Senate Labor & Commerce Committee will hear a bill (House Bill 2638) that would legalize sports betting in tribal casinos.


Interstate 5

TRANSPORTATION BUDGET HEARING
Wednesday, Feb. 25
3:30 p.m., SHR 1

The Senate Transportation Committee will take public comment on the Senate Democratic Caucus 2020 supplemental transportation budget proposal.


Courthouse

OPEN COURTS
Tuesday, Feb. 25
10 a.m., SHR 4

The Senate Law & Justice Committee will hear a bill (House Bill 2567) designed to make courts accessible to all, regardless of immigration status


bOEING

CHANGES TO BOEING TAXATION
Wednesday, Feb. 26
3:30 p.m., SHR 4

A bill (Senate Bill 6690) that would suspend Boeing’s preferential B&O tax rate will be heard in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.


 

17 02, 2020

This Week in the Senate – Week 6: More floor action, the revenue forecast and an important cutoff

February 17th, 2020|This Week in the Senate|

The 2020 legislative session will reach a major milestone Wednesday when at 5 p.m. all policy bills introduced in the House and Senate must be voted on and passed out of their respective chambers otherwise they can no longer be considered this session.


FLOOR ACTION
Mon., Feb. 17-Wed., Feb. 19 @ 5 p.m.

The Senate will continue to work toward floor policy cutoff, debating legislation regarding the environment, prescription drug costs, jobs and affordable housing and homelessness prevention culminating with Wednesday’s 5 p.m. cutoff.


REVENUE FORECAST
Wednesday, Feb. 19
10 a.m., SHR 3

The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council will provide its quarterly update on anticipated state revenue collections.


HOUSE/SENATE LEADERSHIP JOINT MEDIA AVAILABILITY
Thursday, Feb. 20 @ 10 a.m.
House Majority Caucus Room

House and Senate leadership will hold a post-cutoff media availability in the House Majority Caucus Room.


 

10 02, 2020

Upcoming Town Halls

February 10th, 2020|Uncategorized|

Members of the Senate Democratic Caucus and their seatmates in the House Democratic Caucus have upcoming town halls scheduled to discuss the 2020 Legislative Session, priority legislation and issues important to their districts. Find your lawmaker and their upcoming events in the list below:

1st Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 3-5 p.m. with Sen. Stanford and Reps. Duerr and Kloba at Cascadia Community College.

3rd Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 10-11:30 a.m. with Sen. Billig and Reps. Riccelli and Ormsby at the Woman’s Club of Spokane ballroom (1428 W 9th Ave., Spokane).

5th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, three events with Sen. Mullet and Reps. Callan and Ramos.

  • 1st: Maple Valley
    When: 9:30-10:30 a.m.
    Where: Tahoma High School Performing Arts Center
    23499 SE Tahoma Way, Maple Valley, WA 98038
  • 2nd: North Bend
    When: 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
    Where: North Bend City Hall
    920 SE Cedar Falls Way, North Bend, WA 98045
  • 3rd: Issaquah
    When: 1:30 -2:30 p.m.
    Where: Blakely Hall At Issaquah Highlands
    2550 NE Park Dr, Issaquah, WA 98029

11th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 10 a.m.-noon with Sen. Hasegawa and Rep. Hudgins at the Teamsters Hall, Room 303 (14675 Interurban Ave. S, Tukwila).

21st Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 10 a.m.-noon with Sen. Liias, and Reps. Ortiz-Self and Peterson at Mariner High School Commons (200 120th St SW, Everett).

22nd Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 26, 6:30-8 p.m. with Sen. Hunt and Reps. Doglio and Dolan at the Twin Star Community Foundation Event Center on the SPSCC Lacey Campus (4220 6th Ave. SE, Lacey)

24th Legislative District Town Hall – TBA with Sen. Van de Wege

27th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 10 a.m.-noon with Sen. Darneille, Speaker Jinkins and Fey at Eastside Community Center (1721 E 56th St, Tacoma).

29th Legislative District Town Hall – POSTPONED

30th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22 with Sen. Wilson at Algona Elementary School. Time TBA.

34th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 23, 3-4:30 pm, Sen. Nguyen at Elliot Bay Brewery (255 SW 152nd St, Burien).

36th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 23, 2-4:00 p.m. with Sen. Carlyle and Reps. Frame and Tarleton at the Lagunitas Taproom in the Free-Lard area (1550 NW 49th St., Seattle).

37th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 29, noon-2 p.m. with Sen. Saldaña at New Holly Gathering Hall (7054 32nd Ave. S, Seattle).

40th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 29, 10:30 a.m. – noon with Sen. Lovelett at Anacortes Educational Service District in the Reid Harbor Room (1601 R Ave, Anacortes).

41st Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m with Sen. Lisa Wellman and Reps. Tana Senn and My-Linh Thai. Bellevue College, Room N201 (3000 Landerholm Circle SE, Bellevue).

43rd Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 1:30 to 3 p.m, Sen. Pedersen, Rep. Chopp and Rep. Macri at Seattle First Baptist Church (1111 Harvard Avenue, Seattle)

44th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 9:30 a.m. with Sen. Hobbs and Reps. Lovick and Mead at Lake Stevens Senior Center (2302 Soper Hill Rd., Lake Stevens).

45th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with Sen. Dhingra and Reps. Goodman and Springer at Lake Washington Institute of Technology, West Building, Room 404 (11605 132nd Ave. NE, Kirkland)

47th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 23, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. with Sen. Das at Cascade Hall (12401 SE 320th St, Auburn).

48th Legislative District Town Hall – Feb. 22, 10:30 a.m.-noon with Sen. Kuderer and Reps. Slatter and Walen at Redmond City Hall (15670 NE 85th St, Redmond).

49th Legislative District Town Hall – TBA with Sen. Cleveland.

10 02, 2020

This Week in the Senate – Week 5: A key cutoff and a busy stretch of floor action

February 10th, 2020|This Week in the Senate|

Believe it or not, as of Tuesday, the 2020 legislative session is half over. This week will see an important cutoff Tuesday, followed by a long stretch of work on the Senate floor.


FISCAL COMMITTEE CUTOFF
Tuesday, Feb. 11
Senate Ways & Means and Transportation Committees

Bills that have not yet been voted out of Ways & Means and Transportation by the time the two fiscal committees adjourn Tuesday will no longer be considered this session.


SENATE FLOOR ACTION
Wednesday, Feb. 12-Wednesday, Feb. 19 @ 5 p.m.

The Senate will begin a week-long stretch of floor action Wednesday culminating with House of Origin cutoff on Feb. 19 at 5 p.m. Look for bills related to health care, education, voting rights, the environment, criminal justice reform and other priorities to be debated. You’ll receive updates of bills that will be considered each morning prior to floor action.


 

3 02, 2020

Week 4 in the Senate – Transportation, equity in schools and an important cutoff date

February 3rd, 2020|This Week in the Senate|

The 2020 legislative session rolls on with a big week scheduled in the Transportation Committee. We’re also quickly approaching the session’s first deadline. Bills have until Friday (Feb. 7) to be voted out of committees — with the exception of Transportation and Ways and Means — otherwise they can no longer be considered this session.


RESTORATION OF FIREARM RIGHTS
Law & Justice
Monday, Feb. 3 @ 10 a.m.
SHR 4

The committee will consider bills to allow people to petition a court to have their firearm rights restored (SB 6289), anti-swatting (SB 6295) and criminalizing threats of mass violence (SB 6307).


INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL GRADUATES
Health & Long Term Care
Monday, Feb. 3 @ 1:30 p.m.
SHR 4

Senate Bill 6551, sponsored by Sen. Derek Stanford, creates a new pathway for international medical graduates. The bill would help people who were physicians in other countries, and those that are yet to come to Washington, pursue that same career path when they arrive.


NHL LICENSE PLATES
Transportation
Monday, Feb. 3 @ 3:30 p.m.
SHR 1

The National Hockey League is coming to Seattle. The committee will hear SB 6562 which authorizes commemorative plates honoring the new franchise. Proceeds from the sale of the plate will go toward youth sports programs and the Lieutenant Governor’s program that helps kids with physical and sensory disabilities experience the outdoors.


HOUSE/SENATE JOINT MEDIA AVAILABILITY
Tuesday, Feb. 4 @ 11 a.m.
House Majority Caucus Room

Please join House and Senate leaders as they provide members of the press with an update of the 2020 legislative session.


CAP AND INVEST
Environment, Energy & Technology
Tuesday, Feb. 4 @ 10 a.m.
SHR 1

Washington continues to lead the nation in our efforts to address climate change with Sen. Reuven Carlyle’s SB 5981. A public hearing will be held on this cap and invest program that will help Washington reduce dangerous greenhouse gases and keep our promise to future generations to do our part in addressing the climate crisis.


CAR TABS
Transportation
Tuesday, Feb. 4 @ 3:30 p.m.
SHR 1

The committee will hold a public hearing on several bills to reduce the price of car tabs, including Sen. Marko Liias’ SB 6606.


EQUITY IN SCHOOLS
Early Learning & K-12 Education
Wednesday, Feb. 5 @ 1:30 p.m.
SHR 1

A public hearing will be held on SB 5908, a bill sponsored by Sen. Mona Das, that would establish a center for equity and cultural competency training for K-12 schools within the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.


FORWARD WASHINGTON
Transportation
Wednesday, Feb. 5 @ 3:30 p.m.
SHR 1

Sen. Steve Hobbs will hold a public hearing on his transportation funding plan, Forward Washington.


For a complete look at every committee’s agenda for Week 4 (Feb. 3-7), click here.