Legislative Flavor for March 11
At this point in the legislative session, budget talk fills the (virtual) halls. On March 17th, the state’s Revenue Forecast Council will be released and give legislative budget writers a relatively firm dollar number to work with. We expect draft operating, capital, and transportation budgets to be released by House and Senate Democratic leadership before the end of the month. It is the coming storm in the back of every legislator’s mind.
These negotiations over which policies get funded or cut add even more to the legislative plate. Over 100 bills died in the House and Senate on Tuesday because they could not get a vote by their respective chamber. This comes after almost 700 more bills died in committee. It is always a matter of priorities, and bills without major supporters, compelling interests, funding, or enough of a consensus among stakeholders find themselves out in the cold. Even bills with all those requirements will be left behind simply because something had to be last.
Our legislative system is built with a thousand ways for a proposal to die, on the assumption that only the absolute strongest should survive. It is a hard route to navigate, complete with unpalatable compromises and last-minute amendments. And it should be hard because the power to effect change in the daily lives of millions should not be wielded lightly.
All of this is a lengthy way of saying every bill on WACD’s bill tracker made it through House of Origin cut-off (for better or worse). Going back to 2017, that is the first time in my tenure with WACD is the Washington Association of Conservation Districts this has occurred and is a surprising set of events. I felt this background was necessary to help you understand how truly extraordinary this session is. 2021 was already one for the books; this only solidifies its legendary status.