The legislature passed another major milestone on Friday, the date of the first fiscal committee cutoff. Bills had to be moved out of the fiscal committees – House Transportation, Finance, Capital Budget, and Appropriations; and Senate Transportation and Ways and Means – in order to keep moving this session.

However, while no bill is ever truly dead until the legislature finally adjourns, bills with fiscal impacts are even more likely to move despite deadlines because they can be necessary to implement the budget or NTIB. Regardless, many more bills died last week and the field of focus continues to narrow.

The next two weeks will be largely centered around floor action. At this point, the Rules committees become very important as the gatekeepers to the House and Senate floors. All bills move from a policy or fiscal committee to Rules. Holding no hearings, the Rules members vote on what gets past them for a vote by the full body. As such, a lot of bills die in Rules and the committees are, thusly, considered to be very powerful.

At such a turning point, it’s a good opportunity to check in on WSAC’s priorities for the session. Recall that WSAC’s membership approved four priorities this year:

Funding to address county fish passage barriers
Public defense funding
Foundational public health
Opposing unfunded mandates

Because all of these priorities relate to funding, we may not know any of the outcomes for sure until the end of session. For example, while a fill to address county culverts may not pass, it may be possible to include language and/or funding in the budget.

As for fish passage barriers, there are bills to address the need moving, however, they may not be the ideal solution, and we will continue to work on them. Unfortunately, the public defense bills are technically dead. However, we may still be able to work on budget solutions and will need to take stock and strategize regarding how to move forward.

As for foundational public health, the policy legislation is moving along nicely, and talks with high ranking legislators regarding funding remain promising. Finally, we won’t know what mandates are unfunded until the final budget passes. We will remain vigilant and continue to oppose any bills that don’t have funding attached.

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Mellani McAleenan

Mellani joined WSAC as the Director of Government Relations and General Counsel. Mellani has worked in government relations since 2000, most recently as Director of Government Affairs for the Dental Association. Mellani has also represented the state judicial branch of government as the primary legislative advocate for the Board for Judicial Administration, Administrative Office of the Courts, and Supreme Court. Mellani earned her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Seattle University and her BS in Human Services from Wayland Baptist University.