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WashingtonVotes NEWS: Friday, February 16, 2018
Legislative focus sharpens as cutoff deadline passes. Latest revenue forecast projects $1.3 billion more in state tax collections through 2021.

Lawmakers are eying the finish line for this year’s 60-day legislative session, after passing more than 550 bills out of their originating chambers in time for last Wednesday’s cutoff deadline. With the exception of budget-related measures, bills that did not make this deadline are in all likelihood dead for the 2017-18 legislative cycle.

While the majority of the bills that survived the cutoff deadline are non-controversial, passing by wide margins in their house of origin, several measures will continue to be debated vigorously before a final vote to pass the legislature is taken.

Democrats hold a slim 50-48 margin in the House and control the governor’s office, but key Democratic agenda items had been stalled in the Republican-led Senate last year. As a result of last November’s special election, Democrats also hold a one-seat majority in the Senate, and their bills are moving through the legislative process.

The legislation that cleared the originating house include bills to secure collection of union dues and fees, to shield public employees’ birthdates from public disclosure, to allow automatic voter registration for drivers license applicants, to pre-register 16- and 17-year olds to vote, and to repeal Washington’s death penalty.

The death penalty repeal bill passed the Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 26-22 after passionate debate and an unsuccessful effort by opponents to add add exceptions for the first-degree murder of a police or corrections officer. The vote was along partisan lines, but five Republicans voted for the bill, while four Democrats voted against it.

This week’s release of the latest state revenue forecast projecting some $1.3 billion in additional state tax collections through the 2019-21 biennium also puts tax legislation currently before the legislature into sharp focus.

Lawmakers have three weeks to approve a supplemental budget (HB 2299) to add to the $44.3 billion two-year spending plan approved last year. Republican leaders say that at least some of the unexpected revenue should be returned to property tax payers, whose bills have risen sharply as a result of the state basic education funding revisions passed last year.

Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale has sponsored SB 6439 to reduce state property taxes payable in calendar years 2018 and 2019, and to offer property owners a credit on their October 2018 tax bill. Many property owners divide their tax bills between April and October. The measure has been in the Senate Ways and Means committee since January 17 with no action scheduled so far.

A house bill to enact a capital gains income tax, HB 2967, is scheduled for executive session on February 19th. It would impose a tax of seven percent on long-term capital gains income to reduce the state property tax levy and fund the senior citizen, disabled persons, and qualifying veterans property tax exemption.

In the Senate, SB 6609 proposes to lower property taxes by creating new taxes on the sale of candy, on carbonated drinks, and on luxury automobiles, as well as reduce the estate tax threshold.

These and other proposals will make an interesting race to the finish for this session which is scheduled to end March 8th. Follow the action on washingtonvotes.org and visit us on Facebook and Twitter #waleg.

Most viewed bills

2017 Senate Bill 5444
Concerning enhanced background checks and licensure for assault weapons and large capacity magazines

  2018 Senate Bill 6091
Ensuring that water is available to support development

  2017 House Bill 1134
Banning the sale of assault weapons and large capacity magazines

  2017 Senate Bill 5924
Exchanging charitable, educational, penal, and reformatory institutions trust lands for community and technical college forest reserve lands

 

2017-2018

Bills Introduced
3610
Amendments Introduced
1972
New Laws Passed
0370