Crunch time in Olympia as final bill deadlines loom and last day of legislative session approaches

By FRANZ WIECHERS-GREGORY  | 
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Apr 17, 2019

State lawmakers have been working day and night to pass hundreds of bills before today’s deadline for policy bills to be considered by the opposite chamber. After today, only budget and budget related bills, or initiatives to the Legislature, can be considered. This year’s regular session is scheduled to end in 11 days, on April 28th. 

So far this session, just 16 bills have been signed into law by Governor Inslee, out of over 2,200 introduced. Legislators have passed more than 670 measures in either the House or Senate, and 126 bills have cleared both houses and are on their way to the governor. Versions of a further 259 bills have passed both houses, but have yet to be reconciled into a single approved version for the governor’s signature. Meanwhile, both the Senate and the House are still working on nearly 200 bills listed on the current floor calendar, trying to pass a final group of bills before today’s 5:00 p.m. cut-off deadline. 

Late last Friday, the state Senate passed HB 1575, a measure backed by public employee unions to circumvent the landmark U.S. Supreme Court “Janus” ruling that recognizes the right of public workers to leave a union and not be fired.  The bill would make it easy for unions to take mandatory dues from employee paychecks, but make it extremely difficult for workers to cancel such deductions. It would also shield unions from legal action under state law for illegally seizing money from non-member employees’ wages. 

The bill passed along party lines by a 25-21vote with only Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-Mason County) and Sen. Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle) joining Republicans in voting against it. It passed the House last month, also on a 57-41 party-line vote, and after reconciliation of amendments by the Senate will go to the governor for his signature. 

This week, the Senate also passed HB 1257, proposed by Governor Inslee as part of his “green” legislative agenda. The bill would impose new restrictions on commercial buildings by November 1, 2020. The new regulations are designed to impose energy limits and new costs in the building sector. Building owners would also have to comply with state-mandated energy management plans, operations and maintenance programs, energy audits, and energy limitation measures imposed by bureaucratic rules. The bill now goes back to the House for reconciliation of amendments, before it is sent to the governor for his signature. 

A bill to keep daylight savings time year-round in Washington, HB 1196, passed the Senate on Tuesday by a 46-2 bipartisan vote. Under the bill, Washington state would remain on Pacific daylight time, starting on the first Sunday in November the year following the effective date of legislation passed by Congress to allow states to observe daylight savings time year-round. Currently, the federal Uniform Time Act only allows states to remain on standard time year-round. 

Keep up with the action in Olympia by visiting washingtonvotes.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter #waleg. 

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