Legislative Update - 01-22-2018

Report on Week 2 of 2018 Session

For WRPA Executive Board, Members, Legislative Chair & Legislative Committee Members

“Great Outdoors Day” This Thursday in Olympia:  I’m poised to see many of you this coming Thursday as the WRPA and the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Coalition (WWRC) co-hosts “Great Outdoors Day” in Olympia.  It will be a timely opportunity for all of you to thank state lawmakers for finally crossing home plate on a Capital Budget! A program of events starts with a morning training, continues with a noon-hour series of speakers in the House O’Brien Building basement, and climaxes with an evening reception at the Governor’s Mansion. 


Looking forward to it!

The runaway winner for mega-highlight of Week 2 was the Legislature’s deal on a 2017-19 Capital Budget and a corresponding Hirst water rights bill.  The bipartisan agreement on the two bills – and of course the bond bill to finance the $4 billion+ Capital Budget (E2SHB 1080) – puts to an end some eight months of legislative paralysis and further distinguishes our Washington from that “other Washington.”

Governor Inslee made it all official Saturday, signing the two budget bills and the Hirst bill on exempt wells (SSB 6091) in front of a group of lawmakers:


The passage of the Capital Budget (SSB 6090) marks a significant investment in projects and programs across the state that will trigger thousands of construction and building jobs.  While we can’t quite call it a historic two-year budget in terms of spending levels, the numbers are nonetheless impressive:  Nearly $107 million for the Housing Trust Fund; $80 million for the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Program (WWRP); over $103 million for local community projects; just shy of $70 million for salmon recovery projects; $95 million for stormwater; and nearly $100 million in combined funding for flood prevention, Puget Sound acquisition and the “Volkswagen Settlement” program.  For WRPA purposes, it is worth noting that overall investment in outdoor recreation accounts such as WWRP, the Boating Facilities Program ($17.175 million), the Non-Highway Off-Road Vehicle Account ($13.195 million), and Youth Athletic Facilities ($4.077 million), comes to nearly $115 million!

We’ll now have a veritable normalizing of the 2018 Legislature, as members go back to working on mid-term supplemental budgets in Operating, Capital, and Transportation.  The Operating Budget received another shot in the arm late last week when Steve Lerch, the director of the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, indicated that state proceeds are likely to be up another $85 million or more next month when legislators receive the latest quarterly update.

Elsewhere, lawmakers in the Senate culminated their second week by passing two priority bills off the Floor Friday – the Voting Rights Act (ESSB 6002) on a 29-19 vote and a “Breakfast after the Bell” measure (ESB 6003) on a 40-8 vote.  House Members passed one of their priority bills as well, with a decisive 69-28 vote last Wednesday on a gender pay equity bill (2SHB 1506).

Legislators now go into another week of intensive public hearings, as the first policy committee (Feb. 2) and fiscal committee (Feb. 6) cutoffs loom ever closer.  Bills that don’t make it out of policy or money committees by then are considered “dead” for the Session – though there are ways of reviving some. 

I’ve attached a separate Week 3 hearings list with this report, providing you with testimony, support, oppose, and monitoring recommendations in italics.  I thank all of you for allowing me to transmit this shorter, catch-all report for Week 2, as it enabled me to play the role of proud uncle this weekend in Minneapolis for the wedding ceremony of my nephew Brandon.  As I pass this report along, I will provide some brief follow-up tidbits to you on other matters.

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