Washington Legislative Week in Review: Dueling Budgets Cause Stalemate in State Legislature

On Wednesday, Feb. 29, the Washington State House of Representatives passed its supplemental budget by a vote of 53-45 and sent it to the Senate, where it was expected to receive a vote in time to wrap up the 60-day legislative session scheduled to end Thursday.

Instead, in a procedural move that hasn’t been seen since the 1980s, Senate Republicans, with the help of three Democrats, seized control of the Senate floor and pushed their budget through by a vote of 25-24 at 12:45 a.m. on Saturday, March 3, outraging Democrats and creating upheaval throughout the Capitol.

The Senate budget will now be sent to the House, but it is not clear whether or not it will even get a hearing in the House, as House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said there is no plan to consider it. Sullivan said the Senate needs to act on the budget that the House sent them earlier in the week, setting up a stalemate that will almost certainly push lawmakers into a special session.

Public Funds

Senate Bill 5913 was delivered to Gov. Christine Gregoire for her signature on Thursday, March 1. She now has five days (not counting Sunday) to either sign the bill, do nothing—in which case it automatically becomes law—or veto the bill. She is expected to sign the bill Wednesday, allowing federal credit unions to become public depositaries and raising the amount that public entities can deposit at a credit union to the maximum level of federal insurance.


Garnishment

Substitute House Bill 1552 passed the Senate on Thursday, March 1, by a vote of 46-0 with three excused. Since the bill was amended in the Senate, it will now go back to the House for concurrence before being sent to the governor for her signature. The bill modifies the forms used in garnishment proceedings, increases the exemption for wages from 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage to 35 times the federal minimum hourly wage and increases the minimum and maximum amounts that may be collected for the garnishment attorney fee.


Document Recording Fees

Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2048 passed the Senate on Wednesday, Feb. 29, by a vote of 30-18 with one excused. Like the garnishment bill, this bill was amended in the Senate and was sent back to the House, which concurred with the amendments on Saturday, March 3, by a vote of 55-41 with two excused. The bill will now be sent to Gregoire for her signature. The bill increases county recording fees to $40 from the current $30 surcharge for local homeless housing and assistance.


Foreclosures

Substitute House Bill 2421 did not receive a floor vote before the House of Origin cutoff on Friday, March 2, and is now technically dead. The bill’s sponsor is attempting to revive the bill as “necessary to implement the budget” and/or having the Governor make the bill a priority during special session, if it occurs. The bill amends the Foreclosure Fairness Act passed last year.


Short Sales

Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2614 passed the Senate on Wednesday, Feb. 29, by a vote of 48-1. Since the bill was amended in the Senate, it will now go back to the House for concurrence before being sent to the Governor for her signature. The bill provides that if a beneficiary agrees to a short sale of owner-occupied residential property and reserves the right to pursue the outstanding debt, the beneficiary must provide a written notice to the seller. The notice must state the amount of the outstanding debt, the fact that the beneficiary may collect upon the debt for three years after releasing its interest, and that the seller has the ability to negotiate for a full release of the debt. If a court action is not pursued within three years of releasing its security interest, the beneficiary forfeits the right to collect upon the debt.


Drivers’ Licenses

Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6150, which allows the Department of Licensing (DOL) to implement a facial recognition matching system for driver’s licenses, permits, and identicards, passed the House on Saturday, March 3, by a vote of 52-44 with two excused. The bill was amended in the House to address restrictions on disclosure of the results of the facial recognition matching system, direct DOL to provide specified public notices at driver licensing offices and its website, and require DOL to report to the governor and the legislature annually regarding the facial recognition matching system, so it will go back to the Senate for concurrence before being sent to the governor for her signature


Raffles

Senate Bill 6465 passed the House on Tuesday, Feb. 28, by a unanimous vote of 98-0 and was then sent to the governor for her signature. The bill authorizes bona fide charitable or nonprofit organizations to conduct raffles that exceed $5,000 if the organization obtains a license from the gambling commission. Credit unions are already authorized to conduct raffles under current law.

 

Questions? Contact a member of the Association’s Legislative Advocacy team:
Mark Minickiello, Vice President, Legislative Affairs
Stacy Augustine, Senior Vice President & General Counsel

Posted in Advocacy News, Events.