Legislative Action Report — April 17, 2015

Reminder: the LAC meets this Sunday, April 19, 2 to 4 p.m. at the Delridge Library, 5423 Delridge Way SW. We are looking forward to hearing from Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (36th), especially about the compromise marijuana bill that passed, and from Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (34th), Chair of House Environment and on the House Transportation Committee.

We’ll have a Bill Tracker update next week, reflecting cutoff for floor action for the two houses. What remains, of course, is agreement between the House and the Senate on the three budgets: the General Fund, the Capital (construction) Budget, and the transportation package. There is a good amount of agreement on the Capital Budget, with the Senate funding the Housing Trust Fund at $65 million and the House at $80 million. Please ask your legislators to go for $80 million for the Housing Trust Fund, to make up for $0 last year and only one earmarked project to King County the year before.

I’ve drawn on some of our wisest analysts to give you an overview of what’s going on behind closed doors in Olympia. Read on.

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Legislative Action Report — April 6, 2015

Tuesday, April 7th is the deadline for fiscal bills to move out of committee. You will find our Bill Tracker here. Among our bills that died at the policy cutoff are Breakfast after the Bell, Paid Sick Leave, Equity in Contraceptive Care and Small Consumer Installment Loans. The Washington Voting Rights Act survives.

After long hearings Thursday and Friday, the Senate postponed its vote on its General Fund budget until Monday, when it passed 26-23, a straight party-line vote. Our best resource for budget analysis is the Washington Budget and Policy Center. Their analysis of the two budgets is here.

Democrats complained that the Senate no-new-taxes budget skims funds from local governments, infrastructure and many other sources, underfunds negotiated state employees’ contract increases by half, fails to address McCleary local levy deficits, cuts mental health and fails to restore TANF cuts and much of the $12 billion in cuts to the post-2010 recession budgets. Although the House and the Senate were nearly in agreement about K-12 (spending $1.3 Billion in Senate), their approaches to higher education funding were wildly different, with the Senate cutting tuition by some 25% (but not in community colleges), while the House stepped up the number of need grants funded, helping lower-income recipients more.

Still to come: the House Transportation and the House and Senate Capital budgets. Given the differences in the budget approaches, the go-home date of April 26 is increasingly in doubt.

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Legislative Action Report — March 30, 2015

No bills died this week. With appreciation to our friends and colleagues at Washington State Budget & Policy Center, the State League of Women Voters, and the State Low-Income Housing Alliance, here is a compendium of their budget analyses, which reflect our priorities, particularly for education and human services which are by far the largest part of the operating budget. We ask you also to support their recommended action steps as well as those of the WLIHA and the Budget & Policy Center, remembering that the budget bills will be voted out very soon.

A cutoff calendar is included at the end.

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Disabilities Committee

The newly formed King County Democrats Committee on Disabilities is seeking interested disabled persons and allies to staff the Committee, which helps people obtain their accommodations within the Democratic Party, educates on ableism, and works on legislation pertinent to disabilities. One does not have to attend the full County meetings to participate. Committee meetings will be four times a year. Our first meeting will be March 23rd at 7:00PM. Please call 206-632-2868 between noon and 11:00PM for more information. This will be a fragrance free event.