Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Budget proposals have been passed by both the House and Senate, and budget writers are now in the midst of negotiations. The Senate passed its operating budget last week. Budget-negotiating teams from the four corners have been assigned and met for the first time last Thursday. The House Republican team will include our ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Bruce Chandler, and a few members of our caucus leadership team. We will also rely on the expertise of our ranking members on other committees.
Both chambers have also passed capital budgets and the House also passed their the 2015-17 maintenance-level transportation budget. The transportation budget would spend:
- $3.9 billion for capital projects;
- $2.3 billion for operating programs; and
- $1.5 billion in debt service payments for a total of $7.7 billion.
Keep in mind this is the maintenance and operating budget adopted every biennium, not a transportation plan with projects and revenue, which has received much attention this session.
Last week we started floor action on bills sent to us from the Senate. The most notable piece of legislation was Senate Bill 5052, the Cannabis Patient Protection Act. It would put a licensing structure into the medical marijuana system for state-licensed retailers who want to sell Department of Health-approved marijuana products. Along side this bill was House Bill 2136 to structure the taxation and regulation of recreational marijuana.
As the Legislature continues its work to fight and stop human trafficking, we passed Senate Bill 5884, which would strengthen the state's recent anti-human trafficking efforts. Senate Bill 5884 would designate a central agency to collect human-trafficking-related information and continues the work of many groups and citizens.
In an effort to promote citizen participation in the legislative process, Senate Bill 5267 would initiate a process to allow prerecorded video testimony and written testimony on pending legislation. It passed the Senate unanimously. It provides another avenue for the citizens of our state to stay connected to their government and provide input to legislative matters. This is also beneficial to those who cannot travel to Olympia because of work, weather or other circumstances beyond their control.
During the final two weeks we will be working toward final agreements on the three budgets – operating, capital and transportation. If you have any questions about the budgets or anything else related to the Legislature or state government, please feel free to contact me. Your input is important as we make final decisions in the 2015 legislative session.
Keep in touch.
468 John L.O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7968 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000