2022 Washington Legislature, Day 50 of 60
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OLYMPIA, Feb. 28 — This Monday is off to a fast start.
Gov. Jay Inslee set the earlier date in a coordinated move with his gubernatorial counterparts and public health officials in Oregon and California. No surprise, given revised federal mask guidelines issued last week.
Meanwhile, new rules in the state House of Representatives. Members are not required to prove they’ve been vaccinated to participate in person on the House floor. Also, the number of lawmakers allowed on the floor is going up, from 27 to 45. This will allow 26 Democrats and 19 Republicans, per the House clerk. Senate leaders previously boosted the number of senators allowed in person.
This means floor debates in the final 10 days will seem closer to normal, though lawmakers must still wear masks when speaking.
Are you NTIB?
Friday at 5 p.m. is the cut-off for the House and Senate to pass policy bills from the other chamber, after which those bills can no longer be considered in 2022.
Except when they can. They just need the right tag.
One tag is “Necessary to Implement the Budget,” better known as NTIB. Most often, this is reserved for spendy and spending legislation. But technically, if a policy might bring in a dollar or cost one to carry out, that’s enough to earn the tag.
Another is “Necessary to Pass the Budget,” or NTPB. This is when leaders of a majority party need votes to pass a budget and encounter members who are withholding theirs in exchange for action on something else. That often means keeping it alive beyond the cut-off.
And then there’s “Exempt from Cut-off,” which is the catch-all for any big bill that the majority wants kept alive to the end.
Here’s an example: A bill banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines faces Friday’s cut-off. It enjoys support in the Democratic caucus. So it could get exempted. However, as noted before, it still might not get voted on. Republicans could drop dozens of amendments on it, requiring too much floor time to tackle.
United on Ukraine
Last week’s budget debates in the House and Senate featured many partisan fights.
But Russia’s attack on Ukraine provided a unifying moment.
The Senate on Friday and the House on Saturday approved a budget amendment steering nearly $19 million in the proposed supplemental budget to provide needed services and housing for Ukrainians who flee the conflict to Washington.
Money would go to counties to assist newly arriving refugees. Also, funds would be funneled through the state Department of Social and Health Services to help families secure housing and other necessary support services, such as enrolling children in school and getting a job.
Sen. Chris Gildon and Rep. Kelly Chambers, both Republicans, sponsored the amendments in their respective chambers.
Getting to yes
House Democrats on Saturday ditched the tax on exported fuel from their transportation package. That quieted opposition from other states and avoided messy litigation.
To make up the money, House Democrats figure to tap the public works trust fund for $100 million a year for 15 years. That won’t sit well with cities, counties and special districts that rely on that account to help them pay for sewer, water and other infrastructure projects.
Ten days to talk it all out.
Non-profit TVW covers state government in Olympia and selected events statewide. Programs are available for replay on the internet, and the channel is widely available on Washington cable systems.
Beat reporters: Jerry Cornfield (Herald) | Rachel La Corte (AP) | Joseph O’Sullivan (Times) | Jim Brunner (Times) | Austin Jenkins (NW News Network) | Melissa Santos (Crosscut) | Shauna Sowersby (McClatchy newspapers) | Laurel Demkovich (Spokesman-Review)