Entering the final days of the 2022 legislative session in Olympia, WACD thought a brief explainer would be appreciated to cover what will happen between now and the scheduled adjournment date of March 10th. These dance steps are pretty well known, but it’s the possibility of something new that keeps observers closely watching proceedings.
As of midnight on March 1st, the House and Senate have adopted competing versions of the FY 23 Supplemental Operating, Capital, and Transportation budgets. The next step is reconciliation, where Democratic and Republican budget writers from both chambers come together to hash out the discrepancies between the respective versions.
These negotiating teams usually consist of no more than six legislators with the Chair, Vice-Chair, and the Ranking Member (from the minority party) of each budget committee from both chambers. They will meet daily to work through each budget section as it pertains to their committee. Once a compromise is found, that is usually the final word on the subject. The three budgets are always the last piece of legislation to be adopted. If legislators don’t come to an agreement, then a special session is required.
Though the budget may garner the headlines, there are other bills still moving through the legislative process. March 4th is when legislation must be adopted by both chambers. Each chamber will spend the rest of this week voting out legislation from the opposite side of the rotunda (House bills in the Senate and vice versa). Then March 4th through the 10th will be spent reconciling any differences between the House and Senate versions of bills.
Sometimes this process is as simple as one chamber voting to adopt the other’s version. Sometimes it becomes a rather acrimonious process with neither side backing down. Bills can still die at this point in the process since identical language must be approved by both chambers before anything heads to the Governor’s desk.
Once legislation is sent to the Governor, he will have 20 days (Sundays excluded) to sign or veto a bill. Washington state’s constitution gives line-item veto authority to the Governor, so he can remove sections of legislation while still allowing for the rest to become law. If he issues a partial or total veto, the legislature may override his order with a 2/3 vote. This means that while the legislative session may end in March, all the procedures involved may not be concluded until April.