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Legislative updated from WRPA Lobbyist

Legislative updated from WRPA Lobbyist

 

WRPA/WWRC Lobby Day in Olympia Wednesday – THANK YOU!Thanks so much to all of you who trekked to Olympia last Wednesday for the WRPA and Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC) “Great Outdoors Lobby Day” in the state capital.  It really does make a difference to have our people on the ground, pitching our issues from a “subject matter expert’s” point of view.  We hope the morning briefing, lunch-speakers program, and evening reception were good complements to a day of lobbying on the Hill for all of you.

In Week 7, hundreds of bills either “lived” or “died,” a Senate Transportation Package cleared some important hurdles while smacking headlong into another, and legislators put the finishing touches on the month of February.

Next week lawmakers will pass the halfway mark of the 2015 Session and go into a solid week and a half of Floor Sessions (all) and Rules Committee meetings (some) – as a Wednesday, March 11 “house of origin” cutoff deadline beckons next.  Behind the scenes, Operating and Capital Budget negotiations are likely to intensify as a week-of-March-23 release date draws closer for the House to put its proposals out there.

On Friday, the Senate Majority Coalition began the process of running 11 transportation revenue-and-reform bills off the Senate Floor.  Eight of them – the reform-bill parts of the package – passed off the Floor.  But during deliberation on the first revenue bill, ESSB 5987, a Democratic procedural maneuver shut the Floor down.  Democrats are questioning whether the revenue package should have to live up to a first-week-of Session procedural rule that the Majority Coalition passed, requiring a two-thirds majority for any new taxes.

Also on Friday, both the Senate Ways & Means and House Appropriations committees conducted lengthy “Executive Sessions” on dozens of bills, while dozens more failed to get that far and likely are “dead” for the Session.  Of course, bills with fiscal implications can sometimes be grafted onto other, ‘live’ bills – or remain alive as “Necessary to Implement the Budget” (NTIB).

For us WRPA types, I think Week 7 should go down as a very productive one.  All of you pitched our priority issues on Wednesday; on Thursday, a WRPA-priority outdoor recreation bill cleared the Senate Ways & Means Committee; and on Friday, our sales tax/league fees priority bill advanced to the House Floor Calendar.  We also saw positive forward motion on Real Estate Excise Tax and public records bills we strongly support.  One downer was having an impact fee bill we oppose advance Friday to the House Floor Calendar.

Following is an overview of where we stand on 2015 WRPA “Top Priority” and “Support” items, and then a bullet-style rundown on a few other bills.  There are a few Week 8 hearings, but none of them have a significant impact on us, so I have not listed any.  

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