This is the final supplemental budget proposal negotiated by House and Senate Democrats to add some $5 billion to the $59 billion 2021-23 spending plan approved last year. The plan brings the total two-year operating budget to $64.1 billion—the largest in state history. It includes a tax break for small businesses across the state, but provides no general tax relief for Washingtonians, despite a record surplus of tax collections projected by state economic forecasts. Included in the budget is a sizeable pay raise for state employees and spending increases in a broad range of state programs.
Senate Votes on the final bil
This is the revenue bill advanced by majority Democrats to fund their $17 billion, 16-year “Move Ahead Washington” transportation package. The bill does not contain a gas tax increase but would hike the fees drivers and vehicle owners pay. The original proposal contained a 6-cent per gallon fuel export tax that would have impacted Washington energy producers and raised fuel prices in neighboring states.
The proposed tax was dropped from the final bill, and the expected $2 billion in revenues was partially replaced by transfers from the state general fund and Public Works Trust Fund.
Senate votes on the final bill.
This bill would ban the manufacture, distribution, and sale of firearm magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The ban would limit not just high-capacity magazines for rifles, but also for semi-automatic pistols that often hold more than 10 rounds.
The final bill removed a provision in the original bill that would have prohibited the possession of such magazines by persons who already owned them. It would also exempt law enforcement agencies and members of the armed services from the restrictions.
The bill was passed by the Senate last month and is now headed to the governor for his signature.
This bill was a bipartisan effort to correct what was seen by many as an overreach in police-use-of-force legislation signed into law last year. It would change existing law to permit the use of force, if necessary, to detain someone as part of an investigation. It passed the House last month by a broad bipartisan margin of 87-11 votes. In the Senate, passage of the bill was led by 21 votes from the Republican caucus.
The bill has been delivered to the governor for his signature.
This is the supplemental budget proposal by Democrats to add some $5 billion to the $59 billion 2021-23 spending plan approved last year.
This is the House version of the supplemental spending plan with various changes to appropriations proposed in the Senate version. It includes a provision that would make $19 million available to local governments to aid Ukrainian refugees.
House and Senate leaders will now negotiate the differences between the two proposals, with a final version not likely to surface until near the end of session.
This is the revenue bill proposed by majority Democrats to fund their $16 billion, 16-year “Move Ahead Washington” transportation package. The bill does not contain a gas tax increase, but would hike the fees drivers and vehicle owners pay.
As passed by the Senate last month, the bill would have imposed a new 6-cent/gallon fuel export tax that would impact Washington energy producers, and raise fuel prices in neighboring states. After significant push-back from neighboring states last week, House Democrats agreed to drop this controversial tax. Instead, the House version would take $100 million for each of the next 15 years from the public works trust fund. Local governments are likely to oppose that proposal, because they rely on that account to help pay for sewer, water and other infrastructure projects.
House and Senate leaders will now work out the differences between the two versions of the bills.
This bill would prohibit open and concealed carry of weapons at voting centers and local government and school board meetings. It would make violations of these restrictions a misdemeanor for first time offenses while second and subsequent violations would be gross misdemeanor offenses.
The bill now goes back to the House for approval or rejection of House amendments to it.
This bill has now passed both chambers. If signed by the governor, it would restrict the manufacture, assembly, sale, transfer, purchase, possession, transport, and receipt of so-called “Ghost Guns.” These are firearms that are untraceable, because they are assembled from components without serial numbers or other identification, including unfinished frames and receivers.
The bill was delivered to the governor for his signature.
The new provisions would apply statewide, but would leave Seattle’s existing local ordinance that regulate licensing and permitting of rideshare companies and drivers in place.
Opponents say that the proposed legislation would create confusion, inefficiencies, and higher costs for consumers, while threatening the independence of drivers.
The bill was sent to the Senate Transportation Committee which has scheduled a public hearing and committee action for at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 26th.
This bill would put a modest limit on the Governor’s open-ended emergency powers. Under the bill the majority and minority legislative leaders in both chambers would have the authority to cancel a state of emergency after 90 days, if the Legislature is not in session. It would also allow them to cancel emergency orders that prohibit an activity. Unlike the law in most states, however, the measure would not provide a proactive end to the governor’s emergency powers unless explicitly extended by the legislature.
Washington state has now been under the Governor’s emergency orders for 721 days—and counting.
The measure was referred to the House Committee on State Government & Tribal Relations, which has scheduled a public hearing on it at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, February 21st.
This is a revenue bill proposed by majority Democrats to fund their $16 billion, 16-year “Move Ahead Washington” transportation package. The bill does not contain a gas tax increase, but would hike the fees drivers and vehicle owners pay and would impose a new 6-cent/gallon fuel export tax that would impact Washington energy producers. In an unprecedented move, it would also shift more than $2.0 billion from the state’s operating budget to transportation spending.
A move by Senate Republicans to require that the Senate Ways and Means Committee hold a public hearing on the proposal was rejected by majority Democrats.
The bill was sent to the House Transportation Committee. No public hearing on the measure has been scheduled so far.
This is a controversial measure that would bring back certain workplace regulations the state’s voters had rejected resoundingly in the past. Initiative 841, passed by the voters in 2003, repealed costly and burdensome ergonomic regulations and requirements imposed by the state on businesses. Such regulations prescribed equipment and workplace surroundings for workers who perform their jobs in a mostly sitting position. The initiative also prohibited the state Labor and Industries department from adopting similar regulations or otherwise regulating working practices related to ergonomics.
HB 1837 would repeal the voter-approved ban on these regulations It passed by a narrow 50-48 vote after an all-night debate on 15 amendments to modify and rein in some of the regulations. Most of these amendments were voted down.
The bill was sent to the Senate Committee on Labor, Commerce and Tribal Affairs which has scheduled a public hearing on it at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, February 23rd.
This bill would ban the manufacture, distribution ,and sale of firearm magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. If passed by the House and signed by Governor Inslee, the proposed ban would limit not just high-capacity magazines for rifles, but also for semi-automatic pistols that often hold more than 10 rounds.
The bill, as passed, removed a provision in the original bill that would have prohibited the possession of such magazines by persons who already owned them. It would also exempt law enforcement agencies and armed services from the restrictions.
Republicans proposed more than a dozen amendments to the bill that were voted down by majority Democrats.
The bill now goes to the House for further consideration.
This measure proposed several dozen small adjustments to the Congressional and Legislative District lines drawn up by the state’s Redistricting Commission. The House passed the measure last week, meaning that, barring any legal challenges, the redistricting process that is required every ten years following the U.S. Census is now complete.
While the House approved HCR 4407 with an 88-7 vote, the Senate passed it by a much closer 35-14 margin, barely meeting the two-thirds majority vote requirement for passage of concurrent resolutions. The closer vote in the Senate followed sharp debate by several Republicans and Democrats who were critical of the way some district lines were drawn.
This bill would require each unit of local government with a governing body elected by districts to redistrict using the last known place of residence of inmates in adult correctional facilities and residents of juvenile justice or involuntary commitment facilities.
Under current Washington state law, persons incarcerated in state adult correctional facilities, committed to involuntary behavioral health treatment, or residing or placed in juvenile justice facilities are considered residents of their last known places of residence when calculating population for congressional and legislative redistricting. No corresponding provision, however, exists for local government redistricting, such as for city or county councilmanic districts.
Proponents of the bill have said that it would correct the use of census data to over-represent areas with prisons—thus incentivizing building more prisons and mass incarceration.
The bill was transmitted and referred to the Senate State Government and Tribal Relations Commitee.
This bill would would exempt voter information on ballot return envelopes, ballot declarations and signature correction forms from public disclosure. Currently, images of election ballot return envelopes can be requested by members of the public under exisiting public records laws. Those images contain voter signatures, phone numbers and emails. The bill would protect such personal voter information from public disclosure.
The bill was transmitted and referred to the Senate State Government and Elections Committee.
This bill would impose a 7% percent tax on income derived from the capital gains resulting from the sale of long-term assets. The tax would exempt some assets, such as real estate, and would be levied on income over $250,000 for all taxpayers required to file for the tax. The tax would be calculated on the basis of a taxpayer’s federal income tax return, which would be required to be included in the state filing. The bill passed the Senate in March by a narrow 25-24 margin, after an emergency clause that would prevent a referendum vote by the people this fall was removed. The House version of the bill contains language stating that the proposed tax is “necessary for the support of state government and its existing public institutions,” which is essentially the wording of an emergency clause. Opponents argued that this constituted a “Stealth Emergency Clause,” and proposed amendments to remove it. The amendments were defeated along party-line votes. (See roll calls below).
The Senate has refused to agree to the changes made in the House, and the bill is currently in dispute. A conference committee will attempt to work out the differences and bring the bill to a final vote before session ends on Sunday.
This amendment was offered by Rep. Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama) to remove language from the bill that would constitute an emergency clause, preventing a referendum vote on the bill by the people. Removing the language would restore the opportunity for the people to vote on the bill this fall.
This amendment was offered by Rep. Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama) to remove the section of the bill that states the tax levied is necessary for the support of state government and its existing institutions. Instead, it would add a specific referendum clause to the bill, requiring the Secretary of State to submit the bill to a vote of the people in next November’s election.
This is a so-called “8th Order of Business” motion made by minority Republicans to bring back a bill that had not survived an earlier legislative cut-off deadline. The motion aimed to bring HB 1557, a bi-partisan measure to limit the governor’s emergency proclamations to 60 days unless an extension is approved by the Legislature, to a recorded vote in the House.
Under House rules, the motion was not debatable, but proponents in announcing the move said that such limitations are standard in other states. They said this legislature should re-assume its proper role as an equal branch of government, pointing out that Governor Inslee has governed the state by executive order for over 400 days under his sole emergency powers. Moreover, under current law, only he will decide when a public emergency is over, they said.
This bill would add equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism to existing cultural competency standards and training for school board directors, district staff, and school staff. It would direct school districts to prioritize one of three professional learning days to focus first on these topics. The curriculum would require each of Washington 295 school districts to adopt the training. None of the bill’s proposed mandates would apply to private schools, homeschooling or non-public online education programs.The bill was passed in the Senate by a 30-19 vote in January. Because the House adopted a striking amendment by the House Appropriations Committee, the bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence.
The proposed amendment would change the bill by specifying that the governance training programs, programs of courses, requirements, and other activities leading to educator certification, and the school district staff opportunities for training, professional development, and professional learning may not contain, or instruct on, any of nine listed topics, for example: one race or sex is inherently superior to another, the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist, and any other form of race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating. Defines the terms "race or sex stereotyping" and "race or sex scapegoating." The amendment was not adopted.
As passed, the bill would reduce the criminal penalty for possession of a controlled substance from a felony to a gross misdemeanor. The bill was introduced by majority Democrats as a response to the state Supreme Court’s “Blake” decision in February that struck down Washington’s existing felony drug possession law.
The original bill provided for outright decriminalization of drug possession for personal use, allowing for possession of specified amounts of drugs, including narcotics like oxycodone, heroin, and methamphetamine. A striking amendment that would bring back penalties for possession was adopted, however, and the bill passed by a divided vote, with 15 Democrats and 13 Republicans voting in favor. Eleven Democrats, including sponsors of the original bill voted against it.
The bill was sent to the House Appropriations Committee where a pubic hearing is scheduled for April 19th.
As amended and passed by the Senate, this bill would establish a goal that all publicly and privately owned passenger and light duty vehicles of model year 2030 or later sold, purchased, or registered in Washington state be electric vehicles, contingent upon vehicle participation in a new road usage charge or equivalent tax or fee policy.
The original bill was aimed only at preparing the state for an all-electric-vehicle future by requiring the Washington State Department of Transportation’ to create tools for mapping charging and refueling infrastructure to support forecasted levels of electric vehicle adoption, travel, and use. It also required electric utilities to analyze how their resource plans account for anticipated levels of zero-emission vehicle use and information from the utilities' transportation electrification plans. These requirements are also provided for in the bill as passed in the Senate.
The House concurred in the Senate amendment that set a target for all model year 2030 or later passenger and light-duty vehicles sold in Washington State to be electric vehicles. With final passage by both chambers, the bill is now headed for the governor’s desk for his signature or veto.
This is the House version of the proposed spending plan for the 2021-23 biennium. It replaces the $59.2 billion plan passed by the Senate last week with a proposal for $58.4 billion in spending.
As passed by both chambers, the proposed plans depend on passage of a state income tax on capital gains and would nearly empty the state’s “rainy day” reserve fund. They also assume passage of cap-and-trade and low-carbon fuel standards bills.
Both proposals exceed the $53.7 billion plan proposed by Gov. Inslee last December and the current 2019-21 $51.5 billion operating budget.
The bill must now go back to the Senate for approval of the House changes, which is unlikely. Instead, lead budget writers from both houses normally meet behind closed doors to work out their differences and craft a unified plan before another vote by both chambers as a whole. After final passage, the agreed-upon budget plan would then go to Governor Inslee for his consideration and approval before it is enacted into law.
This bill would establish a “cap-and-trade” program for greenhouse gas emissions to be implemented by the Department of Ecology. The program would enable businesses to buy allowances from the state to offset greenhouse gas emissions in excess of set limits to be determined by the State Department of Ecology.
Money from these allowances would go to the Forward Flexible Account to be spent for specified purposes, including clean transportation, natural climate resiliency, clean energy transition and assistance, and energy efficiency projects.
The bill would require that an Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Panel be convened to provide recommendations on the development and implementation of the cap-and-trade program.
Proponents say this bill will lead toward climate level emission reductions in an economically sound way, while placing environmental justice at the forefront. Critics argue that the program will result in large increases in fuel costs, especially when coupled with low-carbon fuel standards and other proposed gas tax increases. Washington already has one of the highest gas taxes in the nation, burdening consumers and businesses, they say.
The bill must now go to the House for consideration.
This bill would direct the state Department of Ecology (Ecology) to adopt rules establishing a Clean Fuels Program (CFP) to limit the aggregate, overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit of transportation fuel energy to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035.
It would also direct Ecology to update, prior to 2032, CFP rules to further reduce GHG emissions from each unit of transportation fuel for each year through 2050, consistent with statutory state emission reduction limits.
Thursday’s Senate action on HB 1091, after lengthy debate on more than a dozen amendments, marks the first time a low-carbon fuel standard bill has passed the Senate. Previous measures were passed by the House over the last three years, but failed to advance in the Senate.
HB 1091 passed the House in February by a 56-42 vote. Because the Senate amended HB 1091, it must now go back to the House for consideration. If the Senate amendments are approved, the bill would be sent to the governor for his signature.
The bill would prohibit the open carry of a firearm or other weapons at or near public demonstrations, the west state capitol grounds, capitol grounds buildings, and other legislative locations. It provides an exception for federal, state,and local law enforcement officers, and would not apply to persons with a valid concealed pistol license. It would make violation of these prohibitions a gross misdemeanor.
The bill passed after a five-hour debate during which more than a dozen amendments were voted down. An amendment by Rep. Drew Hansen (D-Kitsap) to add an emergency clause to the bill was adopted by voice vote.
Critics of the bill said it violates the federal and state constitutional rights of citizens, and that the emergency clause is designed to prevent a referendum vote by the people on this new restrictive measure.
House Speaker Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) said that the Washington State Patrol (WSP) asked for the emergency clause to be added to the bill due to “the violence that has been seen on or around the Capitol campus over the course of the last year.”
However, the WSP issued a statement that it “did not make, and was not planning to make any such request.” The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue) later said that the claim about a WSP request for the emergency clause was a misunderstanding due to the virtual nature of this year’s session.
The bill passed the Senate a month ago, but because the House added amendments, it must now return to the Senate for approval or rejection of the amendments before final passage.
This is the Senate Democrats’ proposal for the 2021-23 state operating budget. The plan would spend a record $59.2 billion on state programs in the next two years, nearly $8 billion more than the $51.5 billion budget for the current 2019-21 biennium.
As passed by the Senate, the plan assumes passage of a constitutionally questionable capital gains state income tax and would significantly reduce the state’s “rainy day” reserve funds.
Senate Republicans offered a floor amendment to replace the proposal with a plan that would spend $55.2 billion over the next two years, saying it would pay for needed state programs without new or increased taxes. It would also keep more than $1.8 billion in the state’s reserve fund, compared to the $400 million the bill as proposed by Democrats would leave. The amendment was rejected by an unrecorded voice vote.
Senate Democrats said their spending plan would “respond to the needs that the pandemic highlighted, and include millions for the state’s public health system, child care and early learning and efforts on affordable housing and efforts to reduce homelessness.”
Republicans argued that lawmakers should not impose new taxes in the midst of a pandemic, and that the capital gains income tax is illegal under state law and litigation is certain if the legislature ultimately approves the tax.
The House is expected to vote on the $58.3 billion plan proposed by House Democrats (HB 1094) on Saturday, April 3rd. Thereafter, legislative leaders will work to iron out the differences between the versions passed in each chamber before sending a final version to the governor’s desk.
This bill would add a $100 surcharge on fees collected by county auditors when a document is recorded. All of the money collected would go to the state to help pay for various housing programs, including the Affordable Housing for All Account, the Landlord Mitigation Program Account, and the Eviction Prevention Rental Assistance Account.
In addition, funds may be used for project-based vouchers for nonprofit housing providers, foreclosure prevention services, rental assistance for people experiencing homelessness, and tenant education and legal assistance.
Proponents said the bill would provide needed assistance to renters affected by the COVID epidemic and help ease homelessness and affordable housing concerns.
Opponents said the surcharges would impose millions of dollars in added costs to housing providers already struggling with restrictions on their businesses, such as ongoing eviction moratoriums.
The bill was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee and is scheduled for a public hearing on April 5, 2021.
This bill would require health care professionals to complete health equity education training at least once every four years. It would require these courses to teach skills that enable a health care professional to care effectively for patients from diverse cultures, groups, and communities, varying in race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality, religion, age, ability, and socioeconomic status.
During the public hearing on the measure, proponents said the bill is needed, because “the health system is not equitable.” They said that health professionals should be aware of their own biases, and learn to be more sensitive to the health needs of different communities. No testimony in opposition to the bill was offered.
The bill passed by a 35-14 vote in the Senate last month. Proposed amendments in the Senate to allow health care professionals to opt out and to limit the cost of such courses were rejected. The House amended the bill to move the date on which information must be provided about available courses from July 1, 2022, to July 1, 2023.
The bill must now return to the Senate for approval or rejection of the House amendment.
This bill would automatically restore voting rights to felons immediately upon their release from state prison. Under current law, released felons must wait until they finish all conditions of their release, including community supervision before they can re-register to vote.
In committee testimony, proponents estimated that some 26,000 felons would immediately regain their right to vote under this bill, even though they may still be serving their sentences outside of total confinement on probation or community supervision. They said the bill “is about restoring the right to vote. People with felony convictions who have been released into the community, or who are on work release, are working and paying taxes just like everyone else.”
Opponents said that the right to vote should not be restored to felons “until they have fully paid their debt to society.”
The bill passed in the House last month by a 57-41 vote and is now on its way to the governor for his signature.
In October 2020, Congress passed the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020, The act designates the number 988 as the universal telephone number within the United States for accessing the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Hotline system maintained by Lifeline and the Veterans Crisis Line.
HB 1477 would require the state Department of Health and state Health Care Authority to establish state crisis call center hubs and an enhanced crisis response system to implement the national 988 system in this state. It would create a 988 Implementation Team and Crisis Response Improvement Strategy Committee to plan for crisis response system enhancements.
The bill would impose new taxes and fees on commercial mobile services or Internet protocol-enabled voice services to pay for activities related to an enhanced crisis response.
As passed by the Senate, this bill would impose a 7% percent tax on income derived from the capital gains resulting from the sale of long-term assets. The tax would exempt some assets, such as real estate, and would be levied on income over $250,000 for all taxpayers required to file for the tax. The tax would be calculated on the basis of a taxpayer’s federal income tax return, which would be required to be included in the state filing.
The bill is controversial, because Washington’s state constitution prohibits the kind of graduated tax on income the bill would impose.
Proponents have maintained that the tax would not be on income but would be an excise, or “transaction” tax, despite clear findings by the IRS and all 50 states that show that capital gains are income. Much of the debate and some of the proposed amendments centered on this issue, with some Senators questioning, for example, why taxpayers would have to submit a federal income tax return to file a state capital gains tax return if it is not, in fact, an income tax.
Opponents, including some Democrats, also argued that the new tax is not needed right now, because expected revenue projections, to be released on March 17th, anticipate a greater than expected increase in state tax collections for this biennium.
The bill was sent to the House Finance Committee, which has scheduled a public hearing on the bill for March 15, 2021.
This bill would revise the state’s Residential Landlord Tenant Act to require landlords to provide valid reasons for evicting a tenant as specified in the bill, including failure to pay rent, unlawful activity and nuisance issues, Current law allows landlords to end month-to-month leases after 20-days notice without providing a reason. If tenants don’t leave, landlords could evict them.
The bill provides that tenants could not be evicted for failure to pay rent during the COVID-19 pandemic, extending the moratorium on evictions Governor Inslee imposed last year until the end of the public health emergency is declared by federal and state authorities.
Supporters said the proposal would cut down on arbitrary or biased lease terminations and evictions even after the public health emergency ends. Opponents said the bill would force rental property owners to renew a tenant’s expiring lease and allow occupants to stay on the property even if they damage the property. This would increase burdens on landlords struggling to cover their costs during the pandemic and make it harder to remove problem tenants, they said.
The bill was sent to the Senate Housing and Local Government Committee for further consideration.
Called the “Fair Start for Kids Act” by its sponsors, the bill would increase subsidies for licensed child care providers, reduce co-pays, and expand eligibility for programs like the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program.
The cost for this expansion would be about $720 million over the next four years. Supporters said much of this cost could be covered by federal funds to be made available to the state by the COVID Relief bill passed by Congress.
Opponents argued against the expanded mandates and entitlements proposed by the bill, saying they would result in new taxes. The best way to expand access to child care, they said, would be to reduce regulations on child care providers.
The bill was sent to the House Committee on Children, Youth andFamilies, which has scheduled a public hearing for March 18, 2021.
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