This is the $52.4 billion state operating budget for 2019-21, an increase of over 18percent in current spending and the first in the state’s history to exceed $50 billion. Top spending items include $451 million for state employee salary increases and benefits that were negotiated as part of union contracts; $3.9 billion for state funding of schools, including pay increases for school employees; and $280 million for mental health, including increased staffing at the state’s psychiatric hospitals. The budget also includes $2 million for added security costs related to Governor Inslee’s presidential campaign travel.
Senate roll call on the bill.
This bill raises the limits on local school levies that were imposed as part of the 2017 legislature’s plan to comply with the state school funding mandates set in the McCleary court ruling. Under the plan, state property tax rates increased significantly while local levies were to be limited to provide more equitable funding for schools statewide. The current limit is $1.50 per $1,000 of property value or $1,500 per student, whichever is less. The new limit is now $2.50 per $1,000 of value or $ 2,500 per student in school districts with fewer than 40,000 students. For districts with more than $40,000 students, the per-student limit is raised to $3,000. The bill also eliminates annual local effort assistance funding to charter schools.
During debate, Republicans argued that lifting the local levy limits will once again create the kind of inequities that led to the underfunding of schools court case in the first place. They also objected to excluding charter schools, which are public schools, from state funding assistance.
Senate roll call on the bill.
This is an Initiative to the Legislature under which lawmakers had the choice to take no action and let the measure go back to the people for a vote, propose alternatives, or pass the measure outright, as they did this weekend.
Initiative 1000 reverses Initiative 200, which was approved by state voters in 1998, to prohibit state agencies and institutions from granting preferential treatment in public education, public employment, and public contracting on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. Initiative 1000 now brings back state affirmative action policies to include recruitment, hiring, training, promotion, outreach, setting and achieving goals and timetables, and other measures designed to increase Washington's diversity in public education, public employment, and public contracting.
During debate on the measure, opponents pointed out that Initiative 1000 would abolish the current standard of equality for all persons and replace it with a system of different rules for different people. They also argued that the people of Washington should be allowed to vote on Initiative 1000, because it overturns Initiative 200 which voters had approved by more than 60 percent in 1998.
Senate roll call on the measure.
This bill changes the real estate excise tax (REET), usually paid by the seller, from the current flat 1.28 percent to a graduated rate. Homes selling for $500,000 to $1.5 million will remain at the 1.28 percent rate, but houses selling for up to $3 million will be taxed at 2.75 percent, and those over $3 million at 3percent. Homes selling for under 500,000 will be taxed at a lower 1.1 percent rate. The tax is estimated to raise $243.5 million over the next two years, with most of that allocated to general state spending. The bill also allows cities and counties to impose an additional REET for general spending purposes and capital improvements.
House roll call on the bill.
his bill imposes tax hikes on Washington businesses to raise $376 million over the next two years. The tax increases are tiered in three broad categories. Service businesses, such as legal, insurance, engineering, and smaller software companies will have to pay a 20 percent surcharge on their current business taxes. Large computing companies with worldwide gross incomes of $25 billion to $100 billion will pay 33 percent on top of their current rate. Hi-tech and software companies with gross global income of over $100 billion are charged 66.7 percent above their current rate. Most of the money collected is not part of the $52.4 billion state budget, but will go to a separate account to pay for expanded higher education programs, including free tuition for families making up to $50,000 a year.
Senate roll call on the bill.
This was a blank “title only” bill, brought out late Friday and amended by House Democrats with a new bill imposing a 1.2 percent additional tax on banks that are members of larger financial groups with more than $1 billion in annual net income. That means smaller banks, many of which are members of such financial groups but don’t have near this kind of income, will be subject to the additional tax. It nearly doubles the existing tax rate for banks, making Washington’s tax among the highest in the country. The new tax is expected to raise $133.2 million for general state spending over the next two years.
Senate roll call on the bill.
This bill would make both the Interstate 405 express toll lanes and State Route 167 express toll lanes permanent and assign separate toll revenue accounts. It would also authorize tolling on and create an account for, the future Puget Sound Gateway facility. This facility is defined as SR 167 between North Meridian Avenue in Puyallup and I-5 in Fife, the SR 509 spur between I-5 in Fife and SR 509 in Tacoma, and SR 509 between South 188th Street and I-5 in SeaTac. As passed, the bill would also direct that a lower rate schedule for low-income drivers be considered for the SR 509 portion of the facility.
The bill was referred to the House Transportation Committee for a hearing on Saturday, April 27th
This bill would roughly double the double the state’s hazardous substances tax (HST) on petroleum products by changing it to a volumetric rate of $1.09 per 42-gallon barrel. Under current law, a 0.7 percent is collected on the wholesale value of all hazardous substances. The bill would not change the tax on non-petroleum products.
During debate, proponents argued that raising the tax is necessary to pay for the cost of cleanup projects, which includes borrowing $80 million through bonds. Republicans strongly opposed raising the tax, warning that the increase would affect fuel prices for consumers and would add more burdens to an industry that provides good jobs.
The bill was referred to the House Finance Committee for further consideration.
The bill is a comprehensive measure to deal with the opioid crisis and passed both houses with near unanimous votes earlier this month. The bill stalled this week when the Senate refused to agree to a House amendment to the bill. The amendment would prohibit the state Health Care Authority from working with any public agency that sponsors “safe injection” sites for the injection of illicit drugs. If enacted, the amendment would prevent public health dollars going to any city or county that sponsors a public facility for illegal drug use.
After agreement could not be reached, a conference committee was appointed by the House and Senate to work out a compromise version of the bill.
This bill would impose a tax of $0.10 per milliliter of solution on vapor products and a
a tax on heated tobacco products at a rate of $0.60 per ounce. Heated tobacco products, or heated cigarettes, are tobacco products that produce aerosols containing nicotine and other chemicals, which are inhaled by users through the mouth. Under the bill the Governor would be authorized to enter into vapor products taxation compacts with federally recognized Indian tribes, and establishes requirements for such compacts.
The bill was referred to the House Finance Committee of further consideration.
The bill removes a provision allowing a dealer to deliver a pistol to a purchaser who produces a valid concealed pistol license prior to the completion of a state background check.
The new law would expire six months after the date on which the Washington State Patrol determines that a single point of contact firearm background check system is operational in the state.
The bill is headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
This bill is part of Governor Inslee’s “climate change” legislative agenda. It aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by phasing out hydrofluorocarbons used in refrigerators and other equipment. It had passed both chambers, but the House refused to concur on Senate amendments to the bill. The Senate backed off its amendments, one of which would have delayed implementation of the bill by a year, and approved it on final passage.
The bill is headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
This bill, when enacted, will establish the Keep Washington Working work group within the state Department of Commerce. The work group is required to develop strategies and methods to strengthen immigrants' career pathways, provide workforce stability for the agriculture industry, and recommend approaches to attract immigrant-owned businesses.
Under the bill, state and local law enforcement agencies, school resource officers and security departments may not provide information to federal immigration authorities for civil immigration enforcement or provide nonpublic personal information about an individual to federal immigration authorities unless otherwise required by law.
The bill is headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
This bill would bar public employees from seeking refunds of fees they were wrongly forced to pay to government unions. In the ”Janus” case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to require public employees who are not members to pay fees to the union. The court ruled an employee's clear consent is required before dues may be deducted from the employee's pay. Since that ruling in 2018, public employees across the country have instituted class action lawsuits to recover the past fees they have paid. This bill says workers cannot get their money back by providing that public employers and public employee unions are not required to return union fees that were deducted prior to the Court’s ruling.
This is the vote to approve the Senate amendment, which provides that an employer must end payroll deduction of dues no later than the second payroll, rather than the first payroll, upon receiving confirmation that the employee has revoked authorization to deduct dues.
The bill is now on its way to the Governor for his signature.
Proposed by Governor Inslee, this bill would impose new energy limits and restrictions on commercial buildings by November 1, 2020. As passed by the Senate, the bill requires the state Commerce Department to develop new energy efficiency standards to maximize reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Building owners would also have to comply with state-mandated energy management plans, operations and maintenance programs, energy audits, and other energy limitation measures imposed by department rules. The bill also mandates other steps, such as requiring the State Building Code Council to come up with rules for electric-vehicle charging in new buildings.
This is the vote to approve amendments by the Senate that clarified a number of provisions like the size of electrical rooms, and the number of parking spaces allotted for electric vehicle charging. It also moves the effective date of certain building code changes to July 1, 2021. The bill is now on its way to the Governor for his signature.
This bill, which passed the House along partisan lines by a 57-41 vote last month, would impose restrictive efficiency standards for most appliances that use electricity or water, including washing machines, toilets, and dishwashers. The restrictions follow those imposed by California and Vermont and would apply to appliances sold in Washington that are manufactured after January 1, 2021.
As passed by the Senate, the bill would remove federally preempted efficiency and testing standards and establish new minimum efficiency and testing standards for covered products. It would also authorize the state Department of Commerce to adopt rules that incorporate federal efficiency standards for federally covered products and to adopt by rule a more recent version of any standard or test method in order to maintain consistency with other comparable standards in other states. The bill is now in its way to the Governor for his signature.
This bill, which passed the House last month on a 50-40 vote, would end the personal exemption for parents who choose not to vaccinate their children against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). The bill would keep medical and religious exemptions but removes philosophical or personal exemptions for the MMR vaccine. It would allow proof of disease immunity through laboratory evidence or history of disease to substitute for immunizations.
During debate, opponents of the measure questioned the safety and urgency of the vaccine. They pointed out that, if enacted, the bill would not take effect for 90 days after the session ends on April 28th. The Senate amendment to the bill removes the provision allowing a child to be exempt from vaccine requirements if the child has a parent or sibling with a history of immune system problems or an adverse reaction to a particular vaccine. It also removes the grandfather clause for high school students who currently hold a personal exemption, meaning that previously exempt children would have to be vaccinated. The bill goes back to the House to consider the Senate amendments before final passage.
This bill was passed by the House in February by a vote of 63-33. It would impose a new payroll tax to pay for a long-term care program to provide patients with assistance in daily living. Under the bill, the state would collect just over a half-percent from employee paychecks starting in 2022, but benefits would not take effect until 2025. Employers would not have to pay into the program.
The Senate amendment requires premium rates to be set by the pension funding council to maintain actuarial solvency using insurance principles to reduce rate fluctuations. It also sets the maximum premium rate at 0.58 percent. The bill now goes back to the House for reconciliation of the different versions before final passage.
This bill is Governor Inslee’s sweeping proposal to move the state to what he and supporters of the bill say is a “clean-energy” economy. Under the bill, Washington’s electric utilities would have to eliminate all coal-fired energy sources by 2025 and meet 100 percent of its retail electric load using non-emitting and renewable resources by January 1, 2045.
The bill passed the state Senate on March 1st on a party-line 28-19 vote. Republican senators argued that Washington utilities already rely heavily on clean hydroelectric power and that the bill’s provisions would really only result in additional costs and rate increases to be borne by consumers. House Republicans offered similar arguments, along with more than a dozen amendments that were rejected by majority Democrats.
The bill now goes back to the Senate for approval of changes to the bill made in the House, before it is sent to the Governor for his signature.
Also proposed by Governor Inslee, this bill would create a subsidized state-funded public health plan. It would require the State Insurance Commissioner and the Health Care Authority to set up plans by 2021 with insurance companies that offer qualified plans in this state.
These plans would be available through the state’s health care exchange to all residents, but the state would pay subsidies to individuals with incomes of up to five times the poverty level. Premiums would be limited to no more than ten percent of adjusted gross income, and payments to doctors and other health care providers would be restricted to Medicare-level limits.
The bill passed the Senate last month by a 36-13 vote, after a House version of the proposal, HB 1523, passed the House on a 57-41 party-line vote. The final version of the bill was incorporated in SB 5526 and also passed by a party-line vote. Six members were excused when the vote was taken this week.
Changes to the bill made by the House will have to be approved by the Senate, before it goes to the Governor for his signature.
This is a bill to authorize more than $3.08 billion in general obligation bonds to help finance the proposed state capital budget that would provide for $5.26 billion in construction and infrastructure projects statewide for the 2019-21 biennium. The House unanimously passed a $4.4 billion capital budget (HB 1102) along with a $3.1 bond authorization bill (HB 1101) last week.
Notice to reconsider the vote by which HB 1101 failed in the Senate was given, meaning that members agreed to bring the bill back up to vote, so the bill is scheduled for a re-vote in the coming days.
This bill would exclude minors from felony crimes involving dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and creates a new class of crimes that apply exclusively to minors. It would limit the crime of a minor dealing in depictions of another minor thirteen years of age or older engaged in sexually explicit conduct to a gross misdemeanor. It also would exempt minors from being charged with a crime for depictions of themselves engaged in sexually explicit conduct unless they sell the depiction.
Supporters of the bill say that teenagers use smartphones every day and experience shows that many of them are using phones to send sexually explicit pictures of themselves. They say adults struggle to intervene because they know that any juvenile engaging in this conduct is guilty of a Class B sex offense under current law and would have to register as a sex offender. Juvenile conduct is very different from that of an adult and the statutory response needs to differentiate between the two.
Opponents of the bill as proposed say that while it is important to decriminalize possession because we want juveniles to report behavior and ask for help without getting in trouble, the bill is overly broad in exempting distribution of juvenile depictions of sexually explicit behavior from criminal prosecution. Proposed amendments to narrow such exemptions were rejected and the bill passed by a majority Democratic vote, with no Republican support.
The bill passed the House last month on a 57-39 vote, and it now goes back to the House to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill.
The bill would require owners and operators of oil refineries to require their contractors and subcontractors to use a skilled and trained workforce to perform onsite work. It defines a skilled and trained workers as registered apprentices or skilled journeypersons who meet certain apprenticeship graduation requirements.
Supporters of this bill say it is key to long term safety at these facilities. They say that after California passed a similar bill, there was an increase in safety. They also say that some contractors cut costs by hiring low-cost unskilled labor from other areas.
Opponents say these facilities are already safe and there is no data to support the bill. Contractors are already selected based on their safety record and are frequently audited. Their main concern, they say is that he bill will eliminate competition between the union and non-union contractors. They say it establishes a prevailing wage for the private sector for the first time, which may be preempted by federal law, adding that that discriminates against out of state workers who may be from federal apprenticeship programs but not state apprenticeship programs.
The bill passed the House last month on a 64-32 vote and now goes back to the House for reconciliation of amendments passed by the Senate.
This is the House version of the operating budget for the 2019-21biennium. It calls for $52.8 billion in spending, which is some $2 billion over the $50.6 billion in revenues projected by the latest state economic forecast. House Democrats propose to pay for this plan by imposing a new capital gains income tax and raising other taxes, including the business and occupation tax rate on service businesses, and higher taxes on residential real estate transactions. HB 2156, to impose a capital gains income tax on “extraordinary profits” from high value assets was scheduled for approval by the House Finance Committee today, but no action was taken.
HB 1109, as passed by the House, was sent to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The Committee replaced the bill with a striking amendment and passed the bill on to the floor for action by the full Senate.
The Senate replaced the bill as passed by the House with its own version of the 2019-21 operating budget. As now passed by the Senate, the bill calls for $52.2 billion in spending for the next two-year budget cycle. Like the House version, the Senate plan calls for additional taxes to pay for it, but it does not call for a capital gains income tax. Senate Democrats, however, are proposing a separate capital gains income tax bill, SB 5961, which is scheduled for a hearing April 8th.
Overall, the Senate budget proposal is the smallest of the plans considered by the legislature. It would spend about $750 million less than the House plan, and $2.5 billion less than the plan proposed by Governor Inslee last December.
The bill now goes back to the House for approval or rejection of the Senate amendments to the measure. Ultimately, legislative leaders will likely negotiate a final plan that could be passed by both chambers and approved by the Governor. If they don’t reach agreement in the remaining three weeks of this session, the Governor would likely call for a special session.
This bill would impose a number of stricter energy performance standards for commercial buildings by November 1. 2020. Among the requirements are establishment of a State Energy Performance Standard that maximizes greenhouse gas reductions and rules for electric vehicle infrastructure that require electric vehicle charging capability at all new buildings that provide on-site parking. Building owners would be subject to an administrative penalty for failing to submit documentation demonstrating compliance with the requirements of the standard. The penalty would not exceed $5,000 plus an amount based on the duration of any continuing violation. The bill would also mandate a new Natural Gas Conservation Standard that establishes a societal cost of greenhouse gas emissions for purposes of this standard.
The bill was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.
This bill, which was passed by the Senate last month on a 27-19 vote, deals with the confidentiality of insurance communications sent to patients. It would direct the Insurance Commissioner to develop a form for persons who are covered as dependents on an enrollee's health benefit plan to indicate where communications, such as bills and records of procedures, should be sent.
It would require health carriers to direct all communications containing information about a person, including personal health information and the receipt of sensitive health care services, directly to the person receiving the care. Under the bill, health carriers would be prohibited from requiring that dependents obtain the authorization of the primary subscriber before receiving health care services. The bill would further prohibit health carriers from requiring a policyholder to pay for charges if the services were not authorized by the policyholder and the person receiving the services instructed the health carrier to send information about the services to an address other than that of the policyholder.
The bill would make appropriations totaling $9.952 billion for state transportation agencies and programs for the 2019-21 fiscal biennium . Highway and infrastructure expenditures would total $5.3 billion, and operating-related appropriations would total nearly $4.7 billion. Some of the larger appropriations for the fiscal biennium would include: $3.1 billion for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Highway Improvements program; $1.7 billion for debt service; $777 million for the WSDOT Preservation program; and $540 million for the Washington State Patrol. Supplemental changes to the current 2017-2019 transportation budget that would be made by the bill include decreases of $520 million in appropriated funds.
The bill is now headed to the Senate for further consideration.
This measure would make a number of provisions mandated by the federal “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (ACA) part of state law. Under HB 1870, Washington insurance plans would have to offer policies that cover pre-existing conditions, provide a wide range of benefits, limit out-of-pocket expenses a covered person must pay, and eliminate lifetime limits on health care benefits paid by insurers, and other mandates under the ACA, often referred to as “Obamacare.”
In support of the bill, Senate Democrats said that it was a way to assure that Washingtonians would not lose medical coverage promised by the ACA, as Congress and the administration continue to argue over health care coverage alternatives. Republicans, on the other hand, said passing the bill would mean supporting a national health care system that is failing to deliver on its promises of better access and lower premiums.
The bill will now go back to the House to consider whether or not to accept the amendments passed by the Senate.
Under this bill, which has now passed both the House and Senate and is headed to the Governor for his signature, the minimum age for buying tobacco and vaping products in Washington will rise from 18 to 21 years beginning next year. Eight other states, including Oregon and California, and the US Territory of Guam have also raised the age to 21.
The bill enjoyed bi-partisan support, but Senate members on both sides of the vote expressed concern that the change in state law would not apply to Indian reservations, and those under 21 could still buy tobacco and vapor products in tribal shops there. Under current law, the Governor has the authority to enter into tribal cigarette tax contracts regarding the sale of cigarettes, and some Senators expressed the hope that tribal leaders would follow the state’s lead and raise the age from 18 to 21 for all tobacco and vaping products.
?The bill is headed to the Governor for his signature into law.
Proposed by Governor Inslee, this bill would create a subsidized state-funded public health plan. It would require the State Insurance Commissioner and the Health Care Authority to set up plans by 2021 with insurance companies that offer qualified plans in this state.
These plans would be available through the state’s health care exchange to all residents, but the state would pay subsidies to individuals with incomes of up to five times the poverty level. That annual income threshold level would currently be about $62,000 for an individual. Premiums would be limited to no more than ten percent of adjusted gross income, and payments to doctors and other health care providers would be restricted to Medicare-level limits. The bill was referred to the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee for further consideration.
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