Update from Olympia – April 12, 2016
Greetings from Olympia!
I am happy to report that the 2016 legislative session has finished. After a 20-day special session negotiators from the House and Senate were able to reach a compromise on a budget that is a true “supplemental” budget – meaning the adjustments it makes to the budget we adopted in 2015 are only in response to emergencies and other needs that can’t wait for a new budget to be written and approved next year. I spent considerable time at the negotiating table to ensure that people in our state came out ahead in this budget. It was critical to stand by our principles of responsible budgeting to get the job done. This budget is sustainable so that we can adequately address the challenges that are ahead.
The 2016 supplemental budget restrains state spending and meets the state’s 4-year balanced-budget requirements. This is in contrast to the proposal from House Democrats that sought to raid the state’s emergency reserves to pay for new state programs, cut nearly $500 million from K-3 class-size reductions and raise taxes.
When we voted on the budget, I made it clear to my colleagues that I am concerned about the reductions to the Public Works Assistance Account, a valuable resource to small communities so that they can finance their infrastructure needs. I am committed to finding a sustainable solution to fund these projects.
You can read details about the budget here.
Overcoming the Governor’s veto
In a misguided attempt to pressure budget negotiators into reaching an agreement before the end of our regular 60-day session, Governor Inslee vetoed 27 Senate bills – including one that I sponsored, Senate Bill 6148. Fortunately, the Legislature worked together to override these vetoes at the end of the 20-day special session. Senate Bill 6148 clarifies the types of vehicles that may be towed from a self-service storage facility when occupants fail to pay for their storage spaces. The new law maintains all the legal-notice requirements to protect property but gives needed flexibility to these business owners.
A successful end of session
Senate Bill 6513 signing
In a formal ceremony on March 31, the governor signed three of my other bills that passed this year; they touched on a variety of policy issues, from water access to pest control and first-responder benefits.
The first bill, Senate Bill 6605, concerns the permitting of solid-waste facilities in eastern Washington. The new law requires the state Department of Agriculture to review permits for new facilities to ensure that invasive species, pests and disease are not introduced from quarantined areas west of the Cascades.
Senate Bill 6263 would allow members of the of the Law Enforcement Officers and Fire Fighters (LEOFF 2) pension plan to receive full retirement benefits for injuries that are currently considered non-duty related, such as responding to federally declared emergencies.
Senate Bill 6513 addresses a state-wide issue relating to water access. The new law directs the state Department of Ecology to act on certain water-rights applications in the state’s water resource inventory areas for the Wenatchee and Elwha-Dungeness River basins.
This legislative session was eventful and busy. I worked hard to get all of these pieces of legislation to the governor’s desk which can be a challenge in a short legislative session.
Click here to read more.
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