The 2023 legislative session is now more than one third complete and this week marked the first major cutoff. On Friday all bills needed to be voted out of their house of origin policy committee in order to stay alive this session. However it is important to note that no issue is really dead until the end of the biennium as parts can be resurrected in various ways. This year, members of the House have introduced 846 bills and members of the Senate have introduced 767. Next week, bills that passed the policy committees that have a fiscal impact to the state must pass out of their respective fiscal committees by Friday, February 24th in order to stay alive. Bills that have passed out of the policy committee but have no or minimal fiscal impact will proceed from the policy committee directly to the Rules committee where they remain until they are pulled to the floor for debate and vote. All bills must be voted out of their house of origin (House or Senate) by March 8th. Bills that are deemed necessary to implement the budget, including all revenue proposals, are not subject to cutoff.
This legislative session, some of the biggest priority issues including vehicular pursuits (HB 1363), Blake legislation (SB 5536), nurse staffing ratios (SB 5236), and a myriad of housing bills (read here for article on bill numbers) saw action this week. On Monday, the Senate Transportation Committee heard SB 5466 (Liias, D-21), a governor request bill promoting transit-oriented development. This legislation received strong support from builders, environmentalists, and labor, with 551 people signing in pro.
On Tuesday, the House Finance committee heard a suite of tax bills including HB 1473 (Thai, D-41) which would create a property tax on the ownership of stocks, bonds, and other financial assets over $250 million. The revenue generated is dedicated to four funds – the Education Legacy Trust Fund, which is a dedicated funding source for early learning, K-12, and higher education; the Housing Trust Fund, which pays for the construction of affordable housing, and two new funds created in the bill: a Disabilities Care Trust account that will pay for services for Washingtonians with disabilities, and a Taxpayer Justice account, that will offer credits against taxes paid by low and middle-income families. The bill attracted a lot of attention, with over 2500 people signed in not wishing to testify.