If you want to participate in forming the 2016 King County Legislative Action Committee Legislative Agenda, please plan on coming to our next meeting Sunday November 15, 2 to 4 p.m. at the Maple Valley Library, 21844 SE 248th St., Maple Valley.
Go here for directions and a map.
Our speaker is 47th District Rep. Pat Sullivan, Majority Leader of the House Democrats. Pat will comment on the 2015 session and the challenges for the 2016 session. Our program is a free-form dialog, an unusual opportunity to go deep on policy issues with a legislator.
Majority Leader Sullivan’s conversation will set the stage for our second hour, where we will shape our 2016 Legislative Agenda. We updated our 2015 agenda (see attachment) and brainstormed at our October meeting (see notes). If we can complete this work in November, it will be voted by the KCDCC at our November 24th meeting. Otherwise, it will be finalized by the LAC December 13th and confirmed by the KCDCC January 26th. The short legislative session starts January 11th and ends March 10th, 2016.
Good advocacy practice limits the Legislative Agenda to one page. It’s a handout for legislators. Only issues that will be viable in this short session will be considered. Since legislatures (like Congress) last two years, bills from last session are still viable. Budget items and tax reform are likely to be overshadowed by solving McCleary education funding.
Each LD should send at least one delegate. Finalizing our Legislative Agenda is the only time this committee votes. All Democrats are welcome, but only an official representative can vote.
Of course, as Democrats, we have many other issues. If you want to promote something that doesn’t fit in this agenda, please consider joining your LD or King County Platform Committee. Your LD Chair appoints one King County Platform Committee member. The committee starts meeting weekly about February 1st and finishes about March 31st, in time for a draft platform to be available to the March 26th Precinct Caucuses.
You can review here the current King County Democrats Platform and the latest draft agenda
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.
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.
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.