The 105-day regular legislative session came to a slow end over the weekend. The Senate and House adjourned in the early evening on Sunday.
Both chambers spent the last week and the weekend moving through a series of bills deemed necessary to implement the budget -including a revenue package in the House – as well as concurrences and confirmations of gubernatorial appointments in the Senate.
Legislation that was not passed off either the Senate or the House floors will be returned to the Rules Committee in its chamber of origin as part of the close-out process for the regular session.
Legislators will not be back in town until May 13, when Governor Inslee has announced for a 30-day special session to begin. Special sessions are authorized to run for 30 days and the governor cannot limit the types of bills or topics that are considered in a special session. Usually there is agreement among the Governor’s Office and the four caucuses on what the agenda for the special session will be, but as of close of business yesterday this did not appear to be the case.
Though Governor Inslee is hopeful that between now and May 13 budget negotiators, who will work in Olympia during this break, will have a deal come mid-May. In the Governor’s eyes the agenda would include:
- An operating budget that makes a substantial downpayment on McCleary but not on the backs of those that are less fortunate;
- A transportation plan that preserves funding for existing infrastructure projects and funds new projects including the new bridge across the Columbia River; and
- Important education policy measures to ensure that new education funding will achieve results.
Governor Inslee also referenced a handful of non-budget issues that he would like to see end up on his desk at the end of the special session. Among these issues is legislation on stiffer penalties for repeat DUI offenses, gun reform, the reproductive parity act, and the state DREAM Act.
In his press conference on Sunday, Governor Inslee provided insight into the difficult tasks that lie ahead noting that lawmakers were “…aren’t miles apart. At the moment, they’re light years apart.”