With less than 30 days left in the session, things are moving fast. Fiscal cut off was on Tuesday and a number of bills moved out of committee, many of those being high priority bills for lawmakers. The House and Senate began floor action Wednesday. The Senate appears to be on a slow pace to approve legislation with only 35-to-40 bills passed thus far. The House, however, has passed about twice as many bills, many of them dealing with similar issues. February 17 is the last day to pass bills in their house of origin and as a result, time is now focused on bills that have been approved by their committees.
State Senators deposed Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson last Friday and the following day, Corrections Secretary Dan Pacholke quit after less than four months on the job. The action taken by the Senate is further complicating relationships between the House Democratic Leadership and the Senate Republicans, and the tension with the Governor’s office is palpable. It is rumored that the Senate could potentially try to remove Dorothy Teeter, head of the Health Care Authority (HCA). The HCA hit another major setback this week when private information from more than 91,000 Medicaid users was released due to a HIPAA violation. This error easily sets up Teeter as an easy target to be the next victim of Senate Republicans.
Senate Republicans also took a shot across the bow of the Washington Education Association this week by adding language to its McCleary plan (SB 6195) that effectively prohibits additional bargaining over salaries for this next year. The underlying reason for this provision is to block any salary increases at the local level while the legislature develops its overall K-12 compensation plans to be adopted next year. This is expected to generate a fierce debate on the floor of the Senate.
Carbon Policy: A work session on carbon pricing has been scheduled for next Friday at 1:30 in the House Environment Committee. It is unclear whether this is separate from an I 732 hearing.
House Bill 2346 related to solar incentives passed out of the House Appropriations Committee and is currently in the House Rules Committee waiting to move to the floor. Significant concern remains around the incentive rates currently in the bill, however, all of the stakeholders are working to continue to move the bill forward.