64th Legislative Session - Week One Report
On January 12th, the legislature began its 64th session. This is a budget session where the legislature will be writing the two year budget for the state. It should be an interesting time for a number of reasons. First, of course, is the fact that there are two very distinct views on the budget needs of the State. The democrats control the house and have one view while the republicans control the senate with a different view.
The legislature is confronted with the need to meet mandated education costs and to try to figure some way to fund the new classroom size initiative passed last year.
The good news is that the $3 billion in extra revenue the state is already collecting (an 8.6% boost) is more than enough to fund current services, add money to education, and still cut taxes if lawmakers so choose. At least there is some wiggle room so they may be able to cut a deal.
This is a 105 day session so we can expect all sorts of interesting things to happen.
In the first week of the 2015 session we have already had our elected officials setting up the battle lines. First was the election of Sen. Pam Roach as President Pro-Tempore of the Senate over the nomination of Sen. Tim Sheldon by the Senate Republicans. All 23 Senate Democrats voted with Sens. Roach and Don Benton to send Sen. Sheldon packing. It just shows that that it is politics as normal in Olympia. Then, the Senate voted for an operating rule that would require a two-thirds majority vote to allow a “new tax” to be brought to the Senate floor for a final vote. That will make it tough for the Governor to get his $1 B in new taxes passed.
The LEOFF 1 good news is that it, as of the first week there are no proposals that amount to an attack on LEOFF 1. Some of the LEOFF 2 related bills are being heard next week, HB 1194 and SB5346. This legislation allows the surviving spouse of a LEOFF Plan 2 member killed in the course of employment to remarry and continue receiving workers' compensation program. This bill is seen as positive developments for LEOFF 2.
To look at the bills that WACOPS is tracking, click here. Unfortunately we do not currently have access to the WSCFF legislative updates. As always we will be closely monitoring all bills and watching for any that impact our pension.