Legislative Update: Friday, February 26, 2016

Brad Boswell
Boswell Consulting

Friday, February 26, marked the 47th day of the 2016 regular legislative session. This leaves 13 calendar days for the Legislature to wrap up the remainder of its work for the year. The House and Senate have both taken action on their proposed supplemental budgets, which differ by approximately $800 million dollars and must be reconciled over the course of the next 13 days.

The Senate’s position is that the supplemental budget should cover extraordinary costs that were not anticipated when developing the 2015-2017 biennial budget, while the House has chosen to include substantial funding for several policy initiatives they have chosen to undertake. The House budget, however, would require passage of approximately $120 million in new taxes that they have yet to vote on. Many legislators believe that the House will not take such a vote until an agreement on the budget is concluded. The Senate is not likely to be willing to increase taxes this year and, therefore, the House will have to reduce its level of spending to reach a budget agreement before the end of session.

As reported last week, the policy committee cutoff for bills passed out of the opposite chamber was at 5:00 today. Most of the bills that were passed out of both bodies did not make it through this cutoff date and, therefore, the list of live bills continues to dwindle. Any bills that did pass out of the policy committees this week that have fiscal implications will be taken up over the weekend and on Monday when the fiscal committee cutoff for bills from the opposite chamber occurs.

The remainder of work for the legislative session will then occur on the floors of the House and Senate while negotiations over the budgets and the bills that will make it through to the end are worked out.

Carbon Policy: Rumors of an alternative have been floating around (732-B), however, no bill has been introduced. With a week and a half left in session, it is unlikely to build much momentum if it is introduced at this point.

House Bill 2346 related to solar incentives passed out of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee this week. Most stakeholders remain concerned about how low the incentive rates are currently in the legislation. Language that would prevent this legislation from being implemented if the Governors Clean Air Rule moves forward has also created significant concerns.