Today marks the end of the second week of the 2016 legislative session. Numerous bills have been introduced but very few will ever come up for a vote.
On Thursday, the King County Superior Court issued their ruling on Initiative 1336. The measure, approved by voters in November, would have cut the sales tax by one percentage point, beginning in April, unless the Legislature allows a public vote on a constitutional amendment that would require a two-thirds supermajority vote for future tax increases. Although this ruling will be appealed to the State Supreme Court, for the time being it takes away the threat of a $1 billion hole in the budget posed by the initiative.
The February 5 cutoff date is looming as it marks the last day to read in committee reports and pass bills out of committee in the house of origin with the exception of House fiscal committees, Senate Ways and Means, and transportation committees. Conventional wisdom is that if bills have not had a hearing by the end of next week, they will not move any further though the process. Legislators are all hoping to see their pet projects moved along, but as is normally the case in a short session, it is highly unlikely that a number of them will pass.
Carbon Policy: The Senate Environment Committee held a hearing on Senator Hobbs’ carbon tax bill SB 6306, which would apply an $8.00 per ton and distribute the funding for carbon reduction activities. Initiative 732, Carbon WA Revenue Neutral Carbon Tax, was certified and introduced in the Legislature. A public hearing in both the House and Senate are expected soon. The Legislature can either pass the initiative as is and it becomes law. They can do nothing and it goes to the ballot for a public vote at the next general election. Or, they can craft an alternative bill and pass it through the Legislature at which point both the initiative and the bill will be on the ballot for a public vote.
Solar Legislation: HB 2346 relating the state solar incentive program has been heard and is expected to pass out of the Technology and Economic Development Committee next week. This legislation would adjust the current incentive rates and extend the program, providing 10 years of payments for individuals who purchase systems in the next five years.