Dear friends and neighbors,
Last night, shortly after 10 p.m., the gavels came down for the last time in both legislative chambers officially marking the adjournment of the 2018 session or, as we call it here, sine die. If you have never been at a sine die ceremony, perhaps you’d like to watch this TVW video to get an idea of what it’s like.
We were happy to finish on time, and I personally hope that the special sessions we’ve had to go into over the past few years stay, precisely, in the past.
While short, this was a fast-paced session engulfed in a collective sense of urgency to get things done—lots of things—and to get them done in 60 days. We delivered, not only in that we made it on schedule, but also because we passed a lot of really good policy for our state.
There’s lots to report, too much for one newsletter, so I’ll be breaking it up in separate future mailers. In the meantime, however, I do want to include a bit of information on the supplemental operating budget, as well as on some of the bills we passed recently.
Supplemental budgets are passed in even years and allow the state to make mid-course corrections on the two-year budget passed in odd years. This year, the state had the opportunity to make critical new investments that provide high-quality teachers, and address other emergent needs like mental health care and college financial aid.
Lastly, I want to make sure you know we’re having a town hall meeting tomorrow morning, and I hope to see you there!
The 2018 Supplemental Operating Budget will provide property tax relief while directing additional funding to K-12 education, mental health care and college financial aid.
It includes no new taxes, complies with the state’s four-year balanced budget requirement, and leaves $2.4 billion in reserves at the end of the current budget cycle.
Senate Bill 6614, which runs concurrent with the budget, provides a one-time, $391 million reduction by $.30 to the state property tax, making it $2.40 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2019.
This budget invests nearly $1 billion in education and brings the state into compliance with its constitutional obligation to amply fund our public schools. The new state money would mostly go to fully fund teacher and staff salaries, as directed by the state Supreme Court, in addition to other targeted investments.
It also invests $306 million more over the next four years to improve mental health treatment in state hospitals and community treatment centers.
And it phases in full funding of the State Need Grant over the next four years, includes key investments to support foster youth, funds TANF grants above pre-recession levels, and increases funding for pediatric care.
Click here for budget documents and summaries.
A good week to be a woman in Washington
March 8th was International Women’s Day and this year there was more reason to celebrate because, on March 7, the Legislature passed the Equal Pay Opportunity Act.
Protecting Net Neutrality
This week I attended the bill signing ceremony of the measure to keep a free and open internet in our state. With this legislation, Washington became the first state in the nation to pass net neutrality protections.
HB 2282 prohibits internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking or slowing down certain content while giving priority speeds to content providers who pay extra. This law was passed in response to the Federal Communication Commission’s recent rollback of 2015 net neutrality rules. Under the law, ISPs will have to provide equal access and disclose information about their network operations. Read more about this bill here.
Common-sense gun bills
SB 5992 bans bump stocks, which are trigger modification devices that make semi-automatic rifles fire like automatic weapons, making them extremely efficient at hitting multiple targets in a very short period of time. The new law bans sales of bump stocks beginning July 2018. Then people who currently own these devices will have one year, until July 2019, to sell them to the Washington State Patrol for $150.
SB 6298 increases protections for victims of domestic violence by adding harassment to the list of domestic violence crimes that prohibit a convicted batterer from owning a weapon.
I will continue updating you on many other bills passed this session, and on some of the work that’s still left to do. In the meantime, I hope you will join us tomorrow at our town hall meeting.