With less than 10 days left in the first special session, legislators don’t have much to show in the way of progress. Yes, both chambers returned May 2 and passed bills, and yes, the Governor continues to sign bills that passed in the regular session.
But Senate Republicans continue to refuse to meet with House Democrats on the operating budget, saying that there is nothing to negotiate until the Democrats pass the revenue needed for their spending plan. And Senate Republicans are refusing to negotiate on the capital budget until a bill to resolve the exempt well/water rights issue is passed by the Democratic House and signed by the Governor. Finally, certain House Republicans say they will withhold votes necessary to pass the bond bill, the bill that would authorize the state Treasurer to issue bonds to pay for the construction package, unless there’s an override of the Governor’s partial veto of HB 1017, the school siting bill. It’s a fine mess.
One positive note is that the education funding negotiators continue to meet on policy issues several times a week. Big decisions will be on keeping a salary schedule, the local levy rate after the Legislature acts, and the use of local levies in a post-McCleary world.
What can you do? Most legislators are back in district, so it’s a perfect time to invite them to meet locally, bring them to your school, or for you to attend a town hall meeting or other gathering they might be hosting. Emails are the best way to communicate at this time – let them hear from you on priorities and be a resource on your schools and district.
The Week Ahead
The Governor is holding a bill signing session on May 16.
The House has cancelled its plans to return to Olympia May 17. However, several Senate committees will be holding hearings, so legislators from the Senate agriculture will be in town on the 17th, and the Senate energy committee will hold a hearing May 22nd.
WSPTA Legislative Consultant