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Published on Friday, May 19, 2017

First special session ending – will a second help or hurt cities?

Partisan gridlock is alive and well in Olympia as the 30-day special session concludes in a near-empty Capitol on May 23. Governor Inslee has used this period to review and sign bills passed during the 105-day regular session – including AWC’s priority public records bills. He is expected to immediately call a second 30-day special session, giving him and legislators until late June to conclude their work.

Legislators have until Friday, June 30 to adopt a 2017-19 biennial operating state budget or the state government will begin to shut down over the 4th of July weekend. What that might mean, and how it could impact cities is outlined in this Bulletin article.

In order to avoid that, leaders in both chambers need to get serious about negotiating and that has not happened yet. Legislators involved in the continuing efforts to constitutionally fund the K-12 education system are meeting and apparently making progress. Similarly, small clumps of legislators are discussing other policy issues like water availability and paid family leave. Senate Republicans have refused to hold serious conversations about the capital budget until water availability issues are addressed.

In the meantime, most legislators are at home awaiting word from budget leaders that it’s time to come back and start passing bills and grappling with the budgets. Whether they can accomplish this before June 22 is not clear. What is known is that once the call comes, they will rush back and move quickly. There will not be time or energy to change much of what leadership has put in the budgets. At that point in session is when more than $225 million in shared city revenues will survive or get cut. It is important that legislators do not forget the importance of these funds to you, so if you have not already, please take a moment and connect with your legislators to remind them.