Session update: In to April — and well on to sine die

We’re down to the final four weeks (“April madness,” if you will) in the 2013 legislative session.

The light at the end of the tunnel is the midnight, April 28, deadline for our 105-day meeting — adjournment sine die. Hopefully, that light in the distance isn’t a “special-session train” coming at us. For those of you who might not know, “adjournment sine die” (from the Latin “without day”) means “adjournment of business without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing.” Sine die is used as the technical term for the last day of the regular session legally allowed in our Washington state law. With that day fast approaching, we’ll soon dive in to writing the state’s three major budgets for the 2013-2015 biennium — the operating, capital, and transportation budgets.

Before sine die, the next significant deadlines, or “cutoffs,” are:

  • April 3rd, when bills must pass policy committees in the opposite chamber.
  • April 9th, when bills must past fiscal committees in the opposite chamber.
  • April 17th, when bills must pass the entire opposite chamber.

Any differences of opinion on bills between the House and Senate are worked out in conference committees. The only exceptions to the cutoffs before sine die are:

  • Budgets and issues involving differences of opinion between the two houses.
  • Initiatives.
  • Incidental or close-of-business parliamentary matters.

Bills that have passed the House first need to pass the Senate committee to which they’re assigned, and then go before the full Senate. Measures that have won Senate support earlier in the session face this same process in the House. Here are my prime-sponsored bills that already cleared the full House of Representatives, and must now clear the Senate:

  • House Bill 1256 involves project-selection by the state’s Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board (FMSIB). Specifically, the legislation removes the requirement that the FMSIB submit its project portfolio to the Office of Financial Management and the Legislature as part of the board’s budget request. It also directs that the FMSIB Investment Account and Multimodal Account can be used only for projects approved by the board. This bill is currently in the Senate Rules Committee awaiting a pull to the floor calendar for a vote of passage out of the Senate.
  • House Bill 1447 modifies the boundaries of certain heavy-haul corridors. Specifically, the legislation allows the heavy-haul corridor on a portion of our own State Route 509 in the Port of Tacoma area to be extended by 1.82 miles. This bill is currently in the Senate Transportation Committee. It is scheduled for executive session, where it will hopefully be passed out of committee very soon.
  • House Bill 1644 concerns the transportation-planning objectives and performance measures for local and regional agencies. Specifically, the legislation allows a local or regional agency engaging in transportation planning to establish objectives and performance measures regarding the attainment of the state’s goals for transportation-system policy. It also encourages local or regional agencies engaged in transportation planning to provide objectives and performance measures to the state’s Office of Financial Management for inclusion in its biennial report on attainment of the state’s goals for transportation-system policy. This bill is currently in the Senate Rules Committee awaiting a pull to the floor-consideration calendar.