How many lawmakers support a legislative special session?
California lawmakers addressed their COVID budget situation back in June. Oregon lawmakers are meeting this week in a special session to do the same. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), COVID related special sessions are also scheduled or have already occurred in: CT, ID, IL, KS, LA, MN, MO, NV, NM, SC, TN, UT and VA. Several other states are also reconvening regular sessions this summer. With other states across the country acting to balance their budgets, how many Washington lawmakers support a COVID related special session?
There are two ways to convene a special session in Washington state: 1) The Governor calls one, or 2) A supermajority (2/3) of lawmakers vote to call one. A bipartisan chorus of lawmakers have already asked the Governor to call a special session but he has refused. This leaves the question if there is enough legislative support to call itself into a special session. To answer this question, we recently asked lawmakers this:
“Do you support convening a special session to address the budget deficit and/or any other important issues that have arisen since March?”
The required number is 33 Senators and 66 Representatives to hit the 2/3 threshold to call a special session. Based on the responses to our question and public comments from lawmakers, there are at least 25 Senators (3 conditional) and 47 Representatives in support of a special session.
These are the overall results of the survey. In total, 72 lawmakers said “yes”, while zero lawmakers said “no.” 75 lawmakers, however, did not respond to repeated inquiries about whether they supported a special session. Please contact your elected state lawmakers for individual responses.
The Office of Financial Management (OFM) is currently projecting a budget cash deficit starting in August and running the rest of the Fiscal Year. Under state law, the Governor is required to issue across the board budget cuts if a cash deficit is projected unless the legislature has acted to liquidate the deficit.
A majority of lawmakers support a special session. I heard from 3 more today bringing the "Yes" total to at least 50 Representatives and 25 Senators.