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The 2020 Session Rapidly Approaches Sine Die
Session is scheduled to end on March 12th, and with only a few days left in the 2020 legislative session, we are waiting on the reconciled budgets and on a handful of bills that seem impervious to the bill deadlines. Of the latter is HB 2804. The bill was introduced late and passed its house of origin a few days ago – weeks after the chamber of origin cutoff.
HB 2804, an act relating to local government infrastructure - it amends the Local Revitalization Financing statutes in Chapter 39.104 RCW. It funds a Local Revitalization Financing grant program with $15 million. It has a $1 million limit for individual projects, and it requires the Department of Commerce to utilize new criteria when selecting projects for state contributions after January 1, 2021. Some of the criteria include the ability to enhance regional or international competitiveness, the estimated change in net employment over the life of the project, and the speed at which construction on the project can begin.
HB 2804 requires that local governments applying for a state contribution award include information demonstrating that the project would not go forward without the state contribution, and that the local government has an agreement on how consultation will proceed with a federally recognized Indian tribe when the project may involve an archeological, cultural, or natural resource site of significance to the tribe.
The bill impacts the state’s budget so it is not subject to the usual deadlines, but still has to be heard in Senate Ways & Means (set for hearing Monday) and pass the Senate by March 12th, when the session is scheduled to end. There are rumors that, due to the coronavirus, that the Governor may implement “mandatory measures” that may impact the capital. That could complicate matters.
Several bills that have passed all the legislative hurdles include SB 5457, the naming of subcontractor on public works contracts, and SB 6420, the underground utilities/safety bill. Both passed both chambers.
Several legislators have announced their retirements: Sen. Becker, Sen. Walsh, Rep. Appleton, Rep. Pettigrew, Rep. Smith and Rep. DeBolt. Several more have announced their intention to run for other public office, thus will be leaving the legislature – those include: Rep. Doglio, Rep. Pellicciotti, and Rep. Tarleton. I suspect a few more might announce before March 12th.
A Large Number of Bills Survive the First Cutoff Date
Monday, February 24th, is the 43rd day of the 60-day session. The House and Senate finished passing bills that originated in their respective chambers last Wednesday, the house-of-origin cutoff. The House passed 318 house bills and the Senate passed 267 senate bills. That is a lot of bills for a 60-day session, however, there are not many bills on thee APWA bill tracking list – now down to two pages.
The policy committees have until Friday, February 28th, to sort through all those bills. Those with fiscal impacts must also pass the fiscal committees by March 2nd - clearly, too many bills and not enough committee time. This limited time is made more so by the appearance of the budget bills, which take up about a day of fiscal committee time.
The state fiscal forecast was released on February 19th. Near GF-S revenue is forecasted to increase by $606 million in the 2019-21 biennium and $536 million in the 2021-23 biennium. The forecast materials can be found here: https://erfc.wa.gov/forecasts The first budget (Senate Capital Budget) was unveiled the following day.
The House and the Senate will release their operating and transportation budgets on Monday, February 24th, and the operating budgets will be heard at 3:30 pm that day. The Senate Transportation Committee will hear its proposed budget on Tuesday, while the Senate Transportation Committee will wait until Wednesday.
Sen. Hobbs announced that his transportation budget will not delay projects like the Governor did in response to I-976. The House is expected to delay some projects due to I-976 because, if upheld, it would create a $480 million hole in the multimodal account which is used to fund transit and road projects.
The House and Senate are expected to pass their operating budgets from their respective chambers by Friday – leaving only two weeks before session ends. Not much time to negotiate.
The 2020 Session Reaches the First Cutoff Date
Last Friday was the policy committee cutoff. The fiscal committees have until Tuesday – at which point the 2020 session will be half over, and bill tracking lists will be much smaller. Here are where the bills of most interest to APWA sit:
SB 5457, the naming of subcontractors bill, passed the Senate and is awaiting a hearing in the House Capital Budget Committee. The bill has been substantially amended and most of the concerns raised by the stakeholders have been addressed.
HB 2469, the small works roster bill, is sitting in the House Appropriations Committee. It had a hearing in the Appropriations Committee, and it is schedule for a committee vote on February 10.
SB 6420, pertaining to underground utilities, is waiting for a senate floor vote. HB 2850 and SB 6448, which pertain to archaeological and cultural sites, failed to pass from their policy committee of origin by the February 7th deadline.
Other bills that are subject to committee action this week include:
Finance (House) - HHR A, JLOB - 2/10 @ 8:00am
Appropriations (House) - HHR A, JLOB - 2/10 @ 1:30pm
Transportation (House) - HHR B, JLOB - 2/10 @ 1:30pm
Transportation (Senate) - SHR 1, - 2/10 @ 1:30pm
Senator Hobbs Starts Discussion of Next Transportation Infrastructure Package
This is the fourth week of the 2020 legislative session, and the first bill deadline (February 7th). The policy committees are holding hearings, but this week is predominately about voting bills out of committee and there are many more bills than time left to do so. On February 5th, the Senate Transportation Committee will hold a work session on Sen. Hobbs’ newest version of “Forward Washington” - his transportation funding proposal that would pay for culvert replacement and many other transportation projects. His proposal comes in two flavors: version one is based on a carbon tax while version two is based on a “cap & invest” model. While no one believes a transportation funding package will occur this session, it keeps the momentum going for next session. In the House, Rep. Fey introduced a bill on Thursday that would increase the gas tax by 9.7 cents over ten years to pay for state culverts. That bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. However, the House State Government Committee will hear HB 2850, protection archaeological and cultural sites by state and local governments and all recipients of state funding. This bill is concerning to APWA members.
Committee Work Picks Up as We Enter Week 3
As of January 27th, we are one quarter done with the 2020 legislative session. The committee hearing schedules are packed this week as the first bill cutoff looms in two weeks – February 7th. While bill introductions have slowed, the pace has increased as committees struggle to move through the record number of bills. We are all looking forward to February 7th.
Below are those hearings that are of interest to APWA members.
Bill Introductions Slow as We Start Week 2
Week two of the 2020 legislative session starts on MLK day. Bill introductions are starting to slow down, however, there have been a record amount of bills introduced when considering last session’s bills combined with this year’s total.
Below are those hearings that are of interest to APWA members.
The 2020 Legislative Session is Underway
Session started Monday, January 13th, and is scheduled to end March 12th. Unlike “long” 105-day sessions, when they seat a new Legislature and draft the biennial budgets, these follow-up short sessions are supposed to be less ambitious. The bill cutoff dates seem designed to keep most bills from passing leaving only time for priority matters. The draft cutoff dates are:
While there is a few weeks at the front end to have hearings, this schedule leaves little time to pass policy bills from the opposite chamber (9 days for hearings and executive session). No time for most bills to survive.
During the first week, the House and Senate will hold hearings on the Governor’s supplemental budget proposals that he unveiled in December. The supplemental transportation proposal contains the delay of numerous road and transit projects due to the passage of I-976. The Legislature will likely do little to address the funding cuts associated with I-976 until the State Supreme Court rules on the litigation surrounding it.