Our Local Parks Funding Options Bill - DISAPPOINTING NEWS

An Update From WRPA's Lobbyist: Doug Levy

I wish I wasn’t writing this e-mail, but I need to.  Barring some unforeseen circumstances, our WRPA priority local parks funding options bill (ES HB 2625), which was tantalizingly close to passage this Session, is not going to make it up for a Floor vote by the Friday COB deadline.  The bill is in the Rules Committee – and were it to get to the Floor, the votes are there to pass it.  But we are doubtful it will get there.

What I can tell you is that we worked very hard to get this bill out of the Senate Ways & Means Committee last Friday, and had “pulls” lined up for the Senate Rules Committee both Wednesday and today to get 2625 to the Floor Calendar.  We also had strong support from the Senate Floor Leader (Sen. Liias) who spoke to the bill in the Ways & Means Caucus – and had support in that Caucus discussion from Sens. Keiser and Conway.

However, we ran into several problems down the homestretch:

  • This was a bill sponsored by a House Republican (Rep. Carolyn Eslick), and it appears there was not enough support among Senate Republicans for an agreement to pull the bill to the Floor Calendar.  Some Senate GOP members feel like there have been a lot of ‘tax’ bills coming before them already;
  • There is growing angst among legislators, particularly Democratic Members, who see the sales tax as a “regressive” taxing source and are leery of or even unwilling to support measures that rely on the sales tax, even as a voter-approved option;
  • Almost synonymous with the timing of our bill is the timing of HB 1590, a 1/10th of 1 cent ‘councilmanic’ sales tax authority for housing/homelessness that is on the Senate Floor Calendar and is very controversial.  If that bill passes, it likely will be on a 25-24 type vote with only Democratic ‘yes’ votes.  That affects the tolerance for other sales tax-related bills in these closing days before cutoff – and I think most all of us would acknowledge the lack of affordable housing and the growing numbers of homeless as huge societal issues facing our communities.

I feel like we made a ton of progress on this bill and I’m very bummed to not be able to email you about a coming bill signing.  I can tell you that Rep. Eslick our sponsor and Sen. Keith Wagoner (R-Sedro Woolley/39th Dist.), her seatmate, have been OUTSTANDING on this bill, just outstanding.  So has Sen. Liias, and so have Sen. Rolfes and a number of others, some of whom I noted above.  Additionally, I want to give big thanks to the lobbyists who worked really hard on this legislation. Trevor Justin put in a ton of time on this bill for Monroe, and TK Bentler and Bryan McConaughy – and all of you lobbyists on this thread – have pitched in admirably.

I do know that Rep. Eslick is wanting to keep working this bill, and wanting to improve her standing with Senate Republicans to help this bill along.  And, it may be that we want to fine-tune what we do.  All of those discussions and decisions will come.

Thanks, everybody, and again, my apologies for not writing a happier e-mail.  This was something we worked very, very hard on and took a long way – I only wish we’d been able to complete the journey.

As always, I am more than happy to field questions or input.  Thanks again, folks.

Doug Levy, Owner
Outcomes By Levy, LLC
[email protected]

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