Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy
Special Session Means More Time for Advocacy!
As with many of the recent legislative sessions, lawmakers were not able to reach agreement on a final budget and the Governor has called them into overtime. Starting on Thursday, March 10th we are now in a 30-day special session. Despite a lot of grumbling by tired lobbyists and lawmakers, this is a good thing. It means that the House hasn’t caved to the many cuts proposed by the Senate in their Supplemental Operating Budget Proposal. And, it gives us more time to keep pushing for the final budget to include deep investments in affordable housing and homelessness.
Remember, the House and the Senate budget proposals were worlds apart.
The House made new investments in housing, homelessness, mental health, health care, early learning and other important areas while the Senate’s budget made deep cuts. It isn’t surprising there wasn’t time to reconcile those deep differences and we applaud the House for not caving to the cuts. Please show them that you’ve got their backs and that you want the Senate to agree to the investments by emailing your lawmakers again today. Have you emailed or called recently? That is ok. We’ve been told time and time again by lawmakers themselves, that they need to keep hearing from us. Repeatedly telling lawmakers that you are watching and that you expect them to stay strong is incredibly helpful, especially at this critical time in the negotiations.
Special Session Process
When lawmakers are not able to finalize a budget during the time allotted during the “regular session” the Governor can call them into a “special session”. During the next 30 days, lawmakers will mostly focus on issues pertaining to the budget. However, Governor Inslee took an unusual move on the evening of the last day of the regular session by vetoing many bills simply because the legislature didn’t finalize a budget. Usually, Governors reserve their veto authority to address policy concerns with bills that have passed the legislature. Because he vetoed many bills there may be a push to reconsider those bills during the special session.
Senate Introduces New Budget Bill
The Senate released details on a new budget bill around noon on Friday, March 11th and held a public hearing at 2:00pm the same day. The budget represents some compromises that brings it closer to the House’s proposal, but still does not include the $37 million in new dollars for affordable housing and homelessness that was in the House’s budget. Please see our updated budget tracker for details on key programs and again, please contact your lawmakers today to ask them to pass the House’s Supplemental Budget proposal.
The Housing Alliance will keep you updated on developments throughout the special session. For timely updates, follow our social media pages especially the Housing Alliance’s Facebook page and Twitter, with the hashtag #wahomes. And we will be holding a member call on Friday, March 18th at noon. The conference call number is 1-866-339-4555, 2064429455.
Once the session is over, we will provide opportunities for a comprehensive analysis of session outcomes and opportunities for advocacy during the spring, summer and fall.
Thanks again for your advocacy and please keep it up!