Last week saw the house of Origin Cutoff deadline narrow the amount of bills still alive for consideration by this year’s legislature. The vast majority of “good ideas” are now “dead”, as legislators turn their focus towards a narrow group of remaining bills and the budget process.
While most of the week was spent in the chambers, caucusing and voting on bills, Legislators still found time to have a few controversial public hearings on policy bills. Senator Steve Litzow continues to pursue funding for charter schools with his bill (SB 6194) which would call for an appropriation of roughly $18 million out of the general fund. The bill now waits executive action in the House Education Committee, after a very well attended public hearing last Friday.
Last week saw the end of fiscal committees consideration of bills, with lawmakers spending almost all their time in caucus with their party and voting on the floor. In the Senate, two controversial votes on bathroom gender, and 2/3rds majority to eliminate tax exemptions have created the first serious animosity and threats to end the productivity of broader agreements. The legislature will continue with floor action for three more days, until they run into the all-important house of origin cutoff at 5pm on Wednesday the 17th.
RHAWA continues to work alongside the housing coalition to bring SB 6413 (landlord-tenant omnibus) out of the Senate, the bill is sponsored by moderate Senator Mark Mullet. His work with the Chair in the Senate housing committee on the issue made him the clear choice as sponsor, and he continues to work diligently to put the bill above petty party politics. We also have a backstop version of the bill (HB 2811) that will move in the house this upcoming week.
Last week marked another successful Day On The Hill for RHA and our partners. Legislators and legislative staff have reported positive experiences with our members in their offices, and the evening event was a hit for those who attended. Special thanks is owed to the RHA staff for their efforts in getting lunches, schedules, hot sheets, and providing organizational leadership.
Friday the 5th marked the first major cutoff. All policy bills must be out of their respective committees, or they are dead for this legislature. This week will see long fiscal committees, followed by floor action, as we move towards the House of Origin cutoff on the 17th. 6413 passed out of committee unanimous. This is the compromise bill that RHA, and industry partners have been working on with tenant advocates. There were a few hiccups with this bill in executive session, where the courts wished to amend the definition of criminal history to include the Washington State Patrol database, after significant pressure from stakeholders; the courts have likely backed down.