Day Two of the legislative session in Olympia saw more fast action as the House moved HB 1043, which limits the setting of different tuition rates for high demand college programs, to the floor calendar for an impending vote. The House passed the bill last February with a 95-1 vote.
Governor. Inslee’s State of the State address, however, captured the main attention of lawmakers and Olympia observers on Tuesday. The Governor highlighted three major objectives for the legislative session:
• Raise the state minimum wage by as much as $ 2.50 up to $ 11.82 an hour.
House Bill 2133, sponsored by Representative Elizabeth Scott (R-Monroe) and Representative Gerry Pollet (D-Seattle), would require the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) to prepare a report showing how the following agreements and laws require or permit the sharing of personally identifiable student data or student-level data from Washington state students, without the written consent of students or their parents or guardians:
In Olympia the House started the session with an unusual first-day vote on HB 1817, the Washington Dream Act, passing it 71-23, with some Republicans joining majority Democrats. For the complete roll call vote, see washingtonvotes.org.
Lawmakers formally introduced 179 prefiled bills on Monday, with another 49 bills slated for introduction on Tuesday. HB 1817 was the only bill that saw significant action.
The latest numbers for enrollees in the Obamacare health insurance exchanges were recently released. We are now over half way through the enrollment period, but only 2.2 million of the 7 million people the federal government predicted have signed up.
The 2014 Washington state legislative session began today and Republicans have introduced a bill to help the 290,000 Washingtonians who had their health insurance policies cancelled because of Obamacare.
Washington Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson recently admitted the SR-520 Bridge Project she manages is $420 million over budget. Cost overruns have already consumed the $250 million contingency fund, and Secretary Peterson says she needs $170 million more to keep the project afloat. Peterson said “the good news” is she wants to get the $170 million from increased borrowing and by taking money from road improvements in other communities.
Tomorrow, January 14, 2014, HB 2071 will have a public hearing in the House Transportation Committee work session. HB 2071 would streamline permitting and contracting to repair or replace structurally deficient bridges in the state. The bill is based off of the great work the Washington State Department of Transportation did when the Skagit River Bridge collapsed last year. Streamlined permitting allowed state officials to build and install a replacement span in just four months.
As part of the Climate Legislative Executive Workgroup (CLEW), Republican members offered their ideas for effectively cutting carbon emissions in Washington state. On the whole, the Republican proposals yield more environmental benefit per dollar spent, but do not yield significant emissions reductions.
The key shortcoming of these policies is that they focus only on electricity. Washington state's electricity is already extremely decarbonized. As a result, focusing on electricity (as many of the Democrats' proposals do as well), is not going to make meaningful reductions.
Reducing the state’s regulatory burden has long been a top priority for the business community. Businesses large and small have, for decades, complained our state’s layers of complex regulations are confusing, disjointed, contradictory and often impossible to fully comply with. The call has repeatedly been to reform our state’s regulatory system in order to make Washington a more competitive state to do business.
Today, Washington’s supreme court judges issued a court order that proposes education budgets for the school years 2014-18. The judges gave only passing recognition to lawmakers and taxpayers for already adding $1.6 billion to public school spending, for a total of $15.2 billion, compared to the last state education budget.
The state Employment Security Department’s (ESD) most recent report on job vacancies and new hiring showed a welcome increase in hiring in 2013. An official with ESD said, “the employment picture in early 2013 was the strongest and most optimistic we’ve seen in several years.”