Last Friday was the cutoff for bills to be passed by the opposite house.  The legislature is in its final week of the session which ends on Thursday, March 8th.  Bills that were amended before they were passed one chamber must again be passed by the opposite as the final legislation, or amendments must be withdrawn, or a conference committee is formed to iron out the final legislation for adoption.

The drama in the legislature over the past week was the legislative records bill, SB 6617. After the legislature hurried the legislation through with no public hearings, the print and broadcast media mounted a vigorous campaign asking the Governor to veto the bill. After receiving thousands of phone calls and emails, enough legislators backed down and asked for a veto along with a promise to do a more deliberative, transparent process and have new legislation proposed for 2019.

The supplemental transportation and capital budgets have not yet been finalized. The capital budget, ESSB 6095, passed the House with amendments, which the Senate did not agree to, so it has been sent to conference committee to iron out the differences.  The supplemental transportation budget, ESSB 6106, passed the House with amendments.  In this case, the Senate has not accepted the changes and has asked the House to recede, or take back, those amendments.  If the House refuses, a conference committee will likely be formed to iron out the differences. All this must happen over the next three days.

Other bills of interest include E2SSB 6529, regarding pesticide safety. The bill establishes a pesticide application safety workgroup that will develop recommendations on improving the safety of pesticide applications. The workgroup is composed of legislators and state agencies and may be expanded with additional members in an advisory capacity. The workgroup will look at current reporting requirements along with current data and reports from state agencies and report its findings, recommendations, and draft legislation to the Governor by November 1, 2018.  The bill now heads to the Governor for final approval.

Several bills were introduced that affect bidding and contracting.  SSB 5493, regarding prevailing wage rates, requires the L&I industrial statistician to use collective bargaining agreements as the basis for setting rates in those areas where they exist. For other areas, wage and hour surveys will continue to be used. The bill now heads to the Governor for final adoption.

E2SHB 1673, regarding responsible bidder criteria, requires new contractors to receive training on public works and prevailing wages to be considered a responsible bidder qualified to bid on public works projects. Bidders who have completed three or more projects are exempt.

Other bidding and contracting bills that died include SHB 2852, public works attorney’s fees, 2SHB 2412, procurement/buy clean, 2SHB 1897, public works and procurement, SB 6546, alternative public works, and others that died without moving out of committees.

After the final cutoff last week, a couple more bills died. E2SHB 1332, dangerous objects on roads, died after not being brought up for a floor vote in the Senate. Likewise, SSB 6152, road vacations leading to a body of water, died after not receiving a floor vote in the House.

Lastly, HB 2087, concerning worker safety on roadways and roadsides, has passed both houses and heads to the Governor for signature.  The bill expands the list of emergency vehicles to include highway construction and maintenance vehicles, solid waste vehicles, and utility vehicles with emergency flashing lights.

A listing of active and dead bills can be found here.

Gary is currently the Managing Director of WACE (Washington Association of County Engineers).He has extensive background in the policy areas of Transportation and Public Works.