Legislative update: House of origin deadline closing in

By Diana Carlen
WAWG Lobbyist

Monday marked the 57th day of the legislative session. Over the next two days, all bills must pass out of their house of origin to remain eligible to move forward this year unless they are necessary to implement the budget. The deadline to pass bills out of the house of origin is Wednesday, March 8 at 5 p.m.

After Wednesday, the focus will go back to the work of the policy committees where the chambers will hear policy bills that the opposite chamber passed. Policy bills must pass out of committee by March 29.

Governor’s revenue bills moved out of the Senate Budget Committee and are now on floor calendar. As previously reported, the Senate Ways & Means Committee recently moved the following revenue raising bills proposed by Governor Inslee:

• Carbon tax (SB 5127). This legislation would impose a tax of $25 per metric ton of carbon dioxide beginning on May 1, 2018. The tax would increase annually thereafter by 3.5 percent plus inflation.

• Capital gains tax (SB 5111). This legislation would create a 7.9 percent tax on selling or exchanging capital assets. The most common capitals gains are realized from the sale of stocks, bonds and real estate.

• B&O tax on services (SB 5113). This legislation adds an additional tax rate of 1 percent to the services and other activities of the business and occupation (B&O) tax classification, increasing the total rate to 2.5 percent.

Last week, the three revenue bills were pulled from the rules committee to the floor calendar and are now eligible for a full vote of the Senate. According to reports, Senate Republicans may bring all three revenue bills up for a vote to establish that the tax increases do not have enough support (i.e. 25 votes) needed to pass.

The following legislation is currently on the Senate or House floor calendar and can be scheduled for a vote of the full chamber at any time the majority party decides to bring it up for a vote:

• Continuing work of food policy forum (2SHB 1562). This bill establishes a food policy forum as a public-private partnership to promote a variety of goals related to Washington’s food system. It requires the food policy forum to submit recommendations to the legislature no later than Oct. 31, 2018. There is an amendment on the floor to limit the legislation to small acreage farms.

• Increasing the greenhouse gas emission reduction limits (SHB 1144). The bill would modify state greenhouse gas emissions reduction limits in statute, requiring the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2035 and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Notable bills that passed their house of origin last week:

• DNR leases (SHB 5051). This legislation requires the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to provide at least 180 days written notice and include certain written documentation regarding the termination in any nondefault or early termination provision included in an agricultural or grazing state land lease. WAWG testified in support of this legislation.

• Water availability/Hirst fix (2SSB 5239). This bill addresses the State Supreme Court’s Hirst decision regarding the use of exempt wells in rural areas and the Foster v. City of Yelm water rights decision that limits mitigation options for municipal permit applicants. The bill passed the Senate last week 28-21.

• Protecting Snake River dams (SJM 8004). This legislation requests that the federal government prevent the breaching of any dam in the Columbia River system. The legislation passed by a vote of 26-23 this week.