Thursday, March 10th marked Sine Die for the 2022 legislative session. The Latin term, meaning “without a day”, describes the day that legislators adjourn proceedings. The phrase signals that legislators don’t plan to return until the next session. The legislators will need a break after a flurry of work, which included plans for the projected revenue increase of more than $5 billion above what was forecasted last session. A lot happened since legislators began work back in January. Here is a recap of the past 60 days:
What is a Supplemental Session?
The Washington State Legislature meets every year, for 105-day sessions to set the biennial budget in odd-numbered years, and 60-day supplemental sessions during even-numbered years. Each session convenes on the second Monday in January. The 2022 session largely mimicked the 2021 session, with all committee testimony delivered remotely.
Prior to the start of session, COP and the SBCTC outlined our shared legislative priorities in the 2022 Joint Legislative Agenda. They include competitive compensation for faculty and employees, high demand program expansion, and learning recovery.
COP, along with our higher education partners, took over 230 unique actions during this session to sign-in or testify on bills. This does not include the countless hours of negotiation, information-sharing, and legwork across both sides of the aisle. These actions included work in both the House and Senate, across more than 10 committees. Topics included the capital budget, student financial aid, dual credit, diversity, equity, and inclusion, military students, residency, apprenticeships, and more.
The COP team tracked nearly 130 bills over the legislative session. The number of these bills rapidly dwindled after each cutoff and deadline. After the first policy cutoff on February 2nd, only 92 of the 130 bills we tracked remained. The fiscal cutoff on February 6th whittled that down to 70, while house of origin cutoff on February 14th saw only 57 survive. The opposite chamber policy cutoff on February 23rd saw this number stabilize around 56, and the opposite chamber fiscal cutoff finally saw around 53 bills still being tracked after March 1st. This change, a decline of about 60%, shows just how challenging it can be for legislation to reach the governor’s desk. For example, during the 2021 session, over 580 bills were introduced in the House, and almost another 500 in the Senate. Of those, only 335 bills passed the Legislature, a decrease of 42%. More information about COP’s work during the 2021 legislative session can be found in our 2021 Legislative Report.
The State Budget
In December 2021 Governor Inslee released his budget proposals. This occurred before new numbers were released by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council on February 16, 2022, which projected state revenues to be $2.7 billion more than originally expected through 2025. Both legislative chambers then released their initial budget proposals on February 21st. Policymakers worked to reconcile these budgets, and the House and Senate released their final compromise budgets on Wednesday.
Passed bills and budgets will now head to the Governor’s desk where they can be signed or vetoed partially or fully. The Governor only has line-item veto authority as it pertains to the budget. Under certain rules, a bill can even become law if the Governor doesn’t act on it after a certain number of days. The legislature must have a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers to override the Governor’s veto. Once a bill is signed by the Governor or advanced without the Governor’s signature, the bill is delivered to the Secretary of State, who assigns the legislation as part of the Revised Code of Washington. More information on legislative processes and government functioning can be found in COP’s Washington Governing and Legislative Framework Primer.
The Work Continues
The 2022 session saw momentum around a variety of issues, and many changes took place over the past 6o days: revised revenue projections, the waning of the omicron surge, improved economic conditions, announcements to end the state mask mandate on March 12, and much more.
In the interim, COP staff will continue to work on implementing legislation from this and prior years. And we will begin to work with our member campuses to prepare for the 2023 legislative session that will commence on January 9.
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