Legisletter – April 28, 2015

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The 2015 session of the Washington Legislature wrapped up two days early without achieving its primary responsibility of passing a two-year state budget. Legislators knew going into this legislative session that the compromises necessary to reach agreement on the 2015-17 budget were going to be hard to achieve.


The governor has called the Legislature back into a 30-day special session beginning tomorrow. Before session ended, the governor told legislative leaders that he would not sign an agreed-upon budget unless it contained a tax increase. The governor and the House majority party both assumed over a billion dollars in new taxes were necessary to fund their spending plans. Since the Senate has already found a way to balance the next two-year budget without a general tax increase, the governor’s approach does nothing to bring the two sides together.


A budget must be signed into law by June 30 or state government will begin to shut down. While a shutdown is not likely, the Legislature could easily go into a second special session before reaching a final agreement.


Here’s a brief comparison between the House and Senate budget proposals:


 

House

Senate

Proposed Spending Level

$39 billion

$38 billion

Tax Policy

$1.5 billion in tax increases

No new taxes

Spending Increases

$5.2 billion

$4.1 billion

2015-17 Ending Reserve

$354 million

$480 million

McCleary Funding

 

Fully funds MSOC  

K-2 class size reduction  

Full-day K  

$1.33 billion

 

$741 million

$412 million

$180 million

$1.28 billion

 

$741 million

$350 million

$188 million

State Employee Raises


$253 million

3% increase in 2016

1.8% increase in 2017

$230 million

Flat $1,000 increase in both 2016 and 2017

K-12 Teacher COLA


$385 million

Includes parity with state employee raises

$232 million

 

ental Health Services

Increased bed capacity  

Forensic litigation/Trueblood  

Psychiatrist services increase  

 

$43 million

$27 million

$7.4 million

 

$43 million

$27 million

$3.8 million

 

As we noted in an earlier Legisletter, here are how some key agricultural issues are faring in the proposed budgets:

  • Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP)
    • House and Senate both funded VSP at $7.6 million from the Public Works Assistance Account
  • Wolves
    • House funded research on predation prevention practices
    • House funded $850,000 to hire facilitator to work with WA Department of Fish & Wildlife, Wolf Advisory Group and stakeholders
    • Senate funded $421,000 to implement SB 5960 that requires WDFW to update its wolf management plan
  • Fair Funding
    • House funded at $2.3 million
    • Senate funded at full level of $4 million
  • Reform of Wildland Fire Fighting
    • House provided $1 million to implement the wildland fire suppression bill, HB 2093
  • Ag Dairy Nutrient Management Program
    • Senate funded $575,000 for a program that provides training in agronomic application of dairy nutrients
  • Flood Plain Management/Ag Lands Protection
    • Senate funded $343,000 to implement SB 5347 to create three demonstration projects.
  • Tax Preference for Food Processors
    • Senate assumed passage of SB 5698 that extends the tax incentives for food processors
  • New Taxes
    • House included $1.5 billion in new taxes. Created Capital Gains tax on “the super wealthy.” Tax rate of 5 percent % on capital gains of $50,000 or more. Carbon tax is still on the table but was apparently not included because of lack of support in Senate.
  • Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project PSNERP) 
    • Senate budget directs WDFW to not use agency funds as a match for any activities, including planning and permitting, connected to PSNERP.
  • Pesticides
    • House included $60,000 for a Department of Health to study the development and implementation of pesticide use reporting and a pesticide notification program. WFB opposes this idea. Instead, the Legislature should spend $500,000 to expand and enhance the WSDA Farmworker Education Program, which has a successful track record in training pesticide applicators.

 

It’s important to note that all issues are back on the table when the special session kicks off on Wednesday.  Bills that passed the chamber of origin but did not pass both chambers move back to the chamber of origin. Updated positions below are based on current status and version of the bill as it stands in the chamber of origin.

 

Special Session Bill List – Back to Last House of Origin Version


Bill

Title

Status

Sponsor

Position

Ag Lands

HB 2046

Streams, definition in SMA

H Rules

Dent

Support

SB 5347

Flood plains/ag land, etc.

S Rules

Hobbs

Support

Agriculture

HB 1627

Unlawful land entry/hunting

Delivered to Governor

Schmick

Support

HB 2128

Dept of Agriculture fees

H Rules

Hudgins

Neutral

SB 5015

Dairy inspection program

S Rules

Honeyford

Support

SB 5017

Honey bee products, services

S Rules

Honeyford

Support

SB 5555

Irrigation district authority

S Rules

Warnick

Support

SB 5556

Irrigation district admin.

Signed into law

Warnick

Support

Budgets, Taxes & Tax Incentives

HB 1105

Operating supplemental budget 2015

Signed into law

Hunter

Neutral

HB 1106

Operating budget 2015-2017

H Rules

Hunter

Monitor

HB 1115

Capital budget 2015-2017

H Rules

Dunshee

Monitor

HB 2224

Capital gains tax

H Finance

Carlyle

Oppose

SB 5077

Operating budget 2015-2017

S Rules

Hill

Monitor

SB 5097

Capital budget 2015-2017

S Ways & Means

Honeyford

Monitor

SB 5698

Extension of Food Processing Tax Incentives

S Rules

Hewitt

Support

Climate

HB 1314

Carbon pollution market program

H Appropriations

Fitzgibbon

Oppose

SB 5735

Carbon reduction investments

S Rules

Ericksen

Support

Drones

HB 1639

Government surveillance technology (drones)

H Rules

Taylor

Support

SB 5499

Nefarious drone enterprise

S Rules

Roach

Support

Energy

HB 1449

Oil transportation safety (The final version was a bipartisan deal that addressed our concerns about the cost of fertilizer transportation.)

Delivered to Governor

Farrell

Monitor

Labor

HB 1127

Ag labor skills and safety

Signed into law

Chandler

Monitor

HB 1496

Vocational rehabilitation

Delivered to Governor

Sells

Support

SB 5468

Stay-at-work & self-insured

Delivered to Governor

King

Support

SB 5510

Workers’ comp benefits

Delivered to Governor

Braun

Support

Transportation Financing

HB 1299

Trans budget 2015-2017

H Rules

Clibborn

Monitor

HB 1995

Studded tire fee

H Rules

Ryu

Monitor

SB 5987

Transportation revenue

S Rules

King

Do Not Support

SB 5988

Additive trans funding

S Rules

King

Monitor

SB 5989

Transportation funding bonds

S Rules

King

Monitor

Transportation Policy and Reforms

HB 1585

Surplus trans. property

H Rules

Young

Support

HB 1850

DOT, local reviews & permits

H Rules

Hayes

Support

HB 1851

Bridges, expedited process

Delivered to Governor

Hayes

Support

HB 2181

Highway maximum speed limit

Signed into law (partial veto)

Schmick

Monitor

SB 5111

Econ development & transportation projects

S Rules

Brown

Support

SB 5990

Trans projects/sales, use tax

S Rules

King

Support

SB 5991

DOT/environ legacy stewardship acct funds

S Rules

King

Support

SB 5992

Ferry vessel construction

S Rules

King

Support

SB 5993

Public works contracts, projects

S Rules

King

Support

SB 5994

State trans corridor projects

S Rules

King

Support

SB 5995

Mobility/trans system goal

S Rules

King

Support

SB 5996

DOT transportation projects

 S Rules

King

Support

SB 5997

Trans project delivery

 S Rules

King

Support

Water

HB 1187

Water banking best practices

H Rules

Chandler

Concerns

HB 1793

Alternative water procuring

H Rules

Lytton

Concerns

HB 1836

State drought preparedness

H Rules

Stanford

Monitor

SB 5014

Water banking best practices

S Rules

Honeyford

Monitor

SB 5491

Reservations of water

S Rules

Parlette

Support

SB 5628

Infrastructure/water, etc.

S Ways & Means

Honeyford

Concerns

SB 5965

Base and min. instream flows

S Rules

Warnick

Support

Water Quality

HB 1472

Chemical action plans

H Rules

Fitzgibbon

Concerns

Wolf Management

HB 1676

Studying impacts of wolves on ungulate pops

H Rules

Short

Support

HB 2107

Wolf conservation and management

H Rules

Kretz

Support

SB 5960

Wolf conservation and management

S Rules

Dansel

Support

Wildfire Management

HB 2093

Wildland fire suppression

Delivered to Governor

Kretz

Support