Legislative Update: Friday, February 5, 2016

Brad Boswell

Boswell Consulting

Today is the 26th day of the 2016 Legislative session and also the first “cutoff” of the year. That means that it’s the last day to read in committee reports (pass bills out of committee and read them into the record on the floor) in the house of origin, except the House fiscal committees and Senate Ways and Means and Senate Transportation committees. Any bill that does not get out of committee is pronounced “dead” and will have to wait for next year. The cut-off for fiscal bills is next week on February 9.

On Tuesday, State Rep. Graham Hunt, R-Orting, resigned his position in the state Legislature following accusations that he lied about his military service, including about being wounded in combat. His replacement should be appointed by the end of the month, but the decision could also be made after the session is over.

The Senate voted to reject the confirmation of Washington State Department of Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson in a surprise vote led by the Senate Republicans. Governor Inslee is outraged, responding with “Today’s vote by Senate Republicans is a blatant misuse of the confirmation process for political purposes.” The late Friday afternoon decision has also angered Senate Democrats, which could lead to some interesting floor action from here on out.

Carbon Policy: Initiative 732 has been scheduled for a hearing next week in the Senate Environment Committee on February 9 at 8:00 am. It has not been scheduled in the House yet. The Legislature appears to be willing to let it go to the ballot and we have not seen any major momentum for the Legislature to create an alternative.

The only other carbon policy still in play is the SB 6173, which would prohibit the Department of Ecology from implementing the Governor’s carbon rule. This bill will likely pass out of the Senate; however, it is not expected to move forward in the House.

House Bill 2346 Related to Solar Incentives had a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee and is expected to move through the fiscal committee cutoff by next week. Most stakeholders are supporting this legislation; however, there is major concern over how low the incentive rates have been cut and significant effort is being put into increasing those rates.