Senate budget studies

April 4, 2013 in Blog

Having finished reading the 237 page budget summary I'm now digging in to the actual 401 page bill language. At the pace I'm going I'll be reading the Senate "approved" versus "proposed" budget. Despite being only a few pages in some very interesting studies proposed for the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC).

Among them:

Senate 2013-15 budget released

April 3, 2013 in Blog

The Senate Majority Coalition released its $33.2 billion 2013-15 blueprint for the state today at a noon press conference with Republican and Democrat budget writers speaking. Joining GOP Sen. Hill and Sen. Parlette were Democrat Sen. Hargrove and Sen. Nelson. As tweeted by Tacoma News Tribune Columnist Peter Callaghan:

Senate work session focuses on WPC B&O reform proposal

March 28, 2013 in Blog

Business taxes took center stage today in Olympia. While the morning started with a work session in the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee on how to reform the state's hated Business & Occupation Tax (B&O), the afternoon began with Governor Inslee's attempt to re-define what a tax increase is.

The budget speech we should hear today

March 20, 2013 in Blog

At noon today the final piece of the state's 2013-15 budget debate will fall into place as the March Revenue forecast is officially released. Due to the impact of the federal sequester, indications are that the currently projected nearly $2 billion increase in revenue for the next budget will be slightly reduced. While this will still mean revenues will be growing, it will likely fall short of funding the projected baseline spending increases and new policy adds Olympia would like to pursue.

Title only bills used to circumvent state Constitution

March 18, 2013 in Blog

Not only are title only bills (essentially blank pieces of legislation) not the most transparent way to introduce changes to state law (or perhaps too translucent) but they are used by lawmakers to circumvent the state Constitution. This is why it is disappointing to see 26 title only bills (13 in the House by Rep. Hunter and 13 in the Senate by Sen. Hill) introduced today. Budget chairs typically introduce title only bills so they "don't get stuck" at the end of session.

Here are some of the titles of the 26 title only bills (HB 2003-2015 and SB 5870-5882) introduced today:

Improving the performance of tax preferences

March 15, 2013 in Blog

By a vote of 47-0, on March 7 the Senate adopted ESB 5843: Strengthening the review of the legislature's goals for tax preferences. This bill would require explicit legislative intent for new tax preferences and require performance metrics to help evaluate their impact.

Dead, alive and NTIB (necessary to implement the budget)

March 14, 2013 in Blog

With yesterday's 5 p.m. House of Origin cutoff date behind us, here is a status report on several of the bills I've been following:

Open Government

SJR 8205 (Supermajority for taxes) on life support

March 13, 2013 in Blog

With just hours to go until today's 5 p.m. cutoff in the Legislature, it isn't looking promising for SJR 8205 (Supermajority for taxes) being brought to the floor in the Senate for a vote. The proposed constitutional amendment would implement the policy adopted by the voters on five separate occasions over the past 20 years (since 1993) that tax increases require a 2/3 vote of the Legislature or voter approval.

Sun rising in House Rules Committee?

March 9, 2013 in Blog

Tomorrow (March 10) marks the beginning of National Sunshine Week - a time dedicated to celebrating the importance of the people's right to know and the need for strong open government laws. Judging from rumors in the House Rules Committee, the sun may continue to shine bright on Washington's landmark public records law.

Previous voter-approved amendments adding supermajority requirements to the Constitution

March 6, 2013 in Blog

In the aftermath of last week's State Supreme Court ruling striking down the 20 year-old law requiring a 2/3 vote of the Legislature or voter approval to raise taxes, several of the policy's opponents have been trumpeting that the will of the majority will now be able to stand against the "tyranny of the minority."

Pension reform on Senate floor

March 6, 2013 in Blog

The Senate Rules Committee yesterday moved SB 5851 (Creating a defined contribution retirement plan option for public employees) to the Senate floor for a possible vote before cutoff. The bill would create a new optional defined contribution pension plan for current state workers and for new hires.

Time to add to the nearly two-dozen supermajority requirements currently in the state constitution

March 1, 2013 in Blog

While the vote on the proposed 2/3 for taxes constitutional amendment (SJR 8205) remains in question, should it be approved, the new supermajority requirement would be joining the nearly two dozen currently in the state constitution.

Next steps for the voter approved, but Court tossed 2/3 for taxes requirement

February 28, 2013 in Blog

With today's long awaited ruling by the State Supreme Court striking down the five-time voter approved requirement first enacted in 1993 that tax increases receive a 2/3 vote of the legislature or voter approval, what happens next?

That depends on our lawmakers.

Although in a 6-3 ruling the Court has removed this policy question directly from the voters, it made clear that:

The day legislative Democrats supported a 2/3 for taxes requirement

February 27, 2013 in Blog

Based on the overwhelming support for I-1053 in 2010 and I-1185 in 2012 (both passing with 64%) it is safe to say that Democrats, Republicans and Independent voters across the state support the requirement for tax increases to receive a 2/3 vote or be sent to voters for approval. Despite I-1185 passing in 44 of the state's 49 legislative districts, however, that support does not appear to extend to Democrats in the Legislature (with a few exceptions).

Legislative public notice for bill hearings starts to slip

February 26, 2013 in Blog

Up to this week the Legislature had been doing a decent job of adhering to its rules that require a five-day public notice before a bill is heard in a hearing.

In fact, earlier this year I was quoted in a Senate press release expressing my encouragement: