Washington’s legislative session reached its midpoint this week on Thursday, the 53rd day of this year’s scheduled 105-day regular session. Major issues, such as education funding, a final transportation plan, and the state’s operating budget for 2015-17 still lie ahead. In the meantime lawmakers are moving legislation on other topics forward at a rapid pace.
The levy-swap concept, in which state lawmakers would take local levy funds in return for lower local property tax rates, is being debated in Olympia as one way to increase state funding for public education under the McCleary decision.
Today The Columbian published a strongly worded editorial in favor of making Washington a right-to-work state. The editorial begins by declaring that “the debate over right-to-work laws essentially comes down to a matter of individual freedom. It is a freedom that Washington state should embrace.”
Tomorrow, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear another case dealing with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare. This case, King versus Burwell, deals with the legality of the Internal Revenue Service giving subsidies to people who purchase health insurance in the federal health insurance exchange. Thirty six states either chose to use the federal exchange or were unsuccessful in establishing their own exchange.
To help market the state of Washington to potential businesses the Department of Commerce runs a website called "Choose Washington." Under the tab "Why Washington" you can select "Our Strengths." Under that tab you will find a page called "Pro-Business."
On the first day of session the Senate, using the powers granted to it by Article 2, Section 9 of the state Constitution, adopted rules to govern its proceedings. Among the rules adopted was Rule 64 to require a supermajority vote to move a bill creating a new tax from second to third reading.
Statement by Washington Policy Center on Senate Passage of Transportation Bills
OLYMPIA — The Washington state Senate passed two transportation bills today, in the wake of eight important reforms senators passed last Friday. Together, the bills reflect long-standing Washington Policy Center recommendations to reduce the cost of building roads in Washington state and provide congestion relief to the traveling public.
Trolls are not welcome in Washington State. Patent trolls, that is. The Senate this week passed Senate Bill 5059, called the “Patent Troll Prevention Act,” to strengthen consumer protection statutes and allow the Office of the Attorney General to bring action against a company which violate patent rules.
Senate Bill 5187 would restrict Clark County’s transit agency, C-Tran, from allocating time and money to plan light rail projects that have already been rejected by voters. Only if voters approve the plan at a later date would C-Tran be allowed to devote resources toward light rail.
In our prior blog post we looked at the volatility of capital gains taxes and how California adopted a constitutional amendment to force more savings of its revenue from that source versus spending it to reduce the state's rollercoaster budgeting.
More than 800 of the 2,311 legislative measures introduced to date failed to survive last Friday’s deadline for passing non-budget bills out of committee. Barring extraordinary circumstances, these bills will not see action this year.
This leaves 1,489 bills for lawmakers to consider before the next legislative deadline on March 11th, the day on which either the House or the Senate must pass a bill for it to survive, except for measures related to the budget or transportation.
Senator Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) has released a new edition of his Washington White Board video series, arguing that state officials pay entry-level public school teachers so little they qualify for public assistance. Senator Liias has also introduced a bill to create a state income tax.