As we move into the second-to-last week of the 2019 regular legislative session, legislators are busy working to get bills off the House and Senate floors before the Wednesday cutoff deadline.
Bills must be out of their opposite houses of origin by Wednesday, or they are dead for the session. There are always exceptions, notably if a bill if “necessary to implement the budget” (NTIB), but for most pieces of legislation, it’s move or die time.
Committee hearings are all but done for the session, and budget negotiators are working behind closed doors attempting to reach compromise on the operating, capital and transportation budgets.
The pace is starkly different than the first weeks of the session when hundreds of bills were being introduced each day. Now you find lobbyists and others huddled around the House and Senate chambers doors working to get their bills, policy and budget agendas across the finish line.
WSACE continues to work and follow a small number of bills that are still moving through the process. These include:
Electrical Illumination Equipment Procurement
SSB 5179: Senator Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood), would raise the current $10,000 bid limit threshold for county electrical illumination equipment procurement and work to $40,000. As a reminder, this is a WSACE priority bill and continues to move through the legislative process.
The bill passed the House Transportation Committee unanimously last week and has been pulled to the House floor. It is now awaiting action by the House of Representatives. If it passes it will head to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
Local Government Procurement
SB 5418: Senator Dean Takko (D-Kelso), concerns local government procurement. This bill has a number of provisions in it relating to local government procurement, including, allowing counties to utilize unit-priced contracts, and increasing the small works bid process from $300,000 to $350,000 (the original bill raised the limit to $500,000).
The bill is sitting in the House Rules committee.
WSDOT Stormwater Fees
SB 5505: Senator Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens), specifies that WSDOT stormwater fees to local government utilities must be used for facilities and best management practice implementation focused only on state highway runoff. It also requires local government utilities to provide an expenditure plan and annual progress report before receiving DOT stormwater fees. Counties have significant concerns with this bill.
SB 5505 was voted out of the House Transportation Committee last week and is sitting in the House Rules Committee.
Vehicle Weight Loads for Farm Products
SB 5883: Senator Curtis King (R-Yakima) concerns vehicle weight loads carrying farm products. The bill was amended in the House Transportation Committee where it was stripped of the increased weight load provisions (a good thing!).
The bill now modifies the penalties for a violation of the gross vehicle weight laws when the vehicle carrying farm products from the field where grown exceeds gross vehicle weight limits by 5 percent or less. The bill first requires that a written warning be issued, rather than an infraction, if the driver has not been issued a traffic infraction or has received no more than one written warning in the calendar year.
SB 5883 was pulled to the House floor and is awaiting action.
County Road Administration Board Emergency Fund
SB 5923: Senator Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens), establishes a county road administration board emergency fund. This bill authorizes the County Road Administration Board (CRAB) to create an emergency revolving loan program for certain counties for road or bridge work that is necessary due to a natural or manmade event for which a disaster was declared. WSACE is supportive of this legislation.
SB 5923 was pulled to the House floor and is awaiting action.