|We have reached the final stretch before the end of the legislative session. Last Wednesday was opposite house cutoff, which means it was the last day to pass bills from the Senate off the House floor and vice versa. Legislation that was not passed prior to that deadline is now dead for the session, unless the bill is deemed necessary to implement the budget.
Much of the last few days have been spent resolving differences in bills as they passed out of the House and out of the Senate through a process called “concurrence.”
Expanding College Bound Eligibility
In fact, one of my bills just went through the concurrence process. In order for a bill to become law, it needs to pass out of the House and Senate with exactly the same language. Throughout the process of passing bills back and forth between the House and Senate, most legislation has been revised by committee and floor amendments. These changes have to be reconciled.
In the case of my bill, House Bill 1311, the Senate modified and passed the legislation earlier this month. The bill then came back to the House floor, and last week the House voted to concur on the changes made in the Senate. That means the bill is now headed to the governor’s desk for his signature!
House Bill 1311 will help more Washington families afford higher education. The bill expands College Bound Scholarship eligibility for students in the ninth grade, and guarantees some financial help for students whose families make just “too much” to be considered low-income, yet not enough to afford college tuition.
Car Seat Safety
The other of my bills that successfully passed this session is House Bill 1012. Our current laws on how and when a child must be restrained while traveling in a car are not specific and can create confusion. This leads many parents to move their children out of their restraints too early. House Bill 1012 provides parents with straightforward information that follows the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations on car seat safety. With the easier to understand instructions, they will be sure they’re following the guidelines correctly, keeping kids safer in the car and keeping parents from breaking the rules.
A quick update on the budget
Along with concurrences, the final days of session are focused on final budget negotiations. As with any legislation, the budget must be passed out of the House and Senate with identical language before it can be implemented.
Earlier this session, each chamber offered up a budget proposal along with proposals on how to balance their budgets, including ideas for new revenue. (Read about the House Democratic budget proposals in an earlier e-newsletter.) Since then, negotiating teams from the House and Senate have been meeting regularly in order to reconcile the budgets and determine the investments in areas such as K-12 education, affordable housing, higher education, behavioral health services, and much more.
As of yesterday, the House and Senate reached a tentative agreement on the 2019-21 budget. Between now and Sunday (the last day of regular session) the House and Senate will work to complete the final details and pass the budget out of both chambers.
Supporting the Arts
If you’ve visited my office in Olympia in the past year, you may have noticed an art piece on prominent display outside my office. Front and center on the wall behind my Legislative Assistant hangs a piece called “From this Ebony River,” which is on loan to my office from the Renton Municipal Arts Commission.
It’s a pleasure to be able to display the work of artists from the 11th District community, and the piece reminds me every day of the families, friends, and neighbors I represent. The piece also serves as a reminder to me and to my colleagues of the importance of the arts to our communities, to our quality of life, and as a driver of the economy. That’s why I’m going to continue working with the Renton Municipal Arts Commission to display a new, local art piece outside my office every session. The next piece we will be displaying is called “Urban Migration,” and should be up shortly after the end of this session.
The Renton Municipal Arts Commission works “to support and connect people with arts and culture endeavors” in the Renton community. In order to do so, the commission advocates for arts education, helps increase funding opportunities for arts and culture programs, and serves in an advisory capacity to the Renton city government on arts related projects and policy.
As always, feel free to reach out if you have questions, comments, or ideas.