Capitol News
March 13, 2017
Melissa Johnson, WSLHA Lobbyist

Legislators spent the first part of this week conducting floor action to meet Wednesday's "house of origin" cutoff deadline. If a bill was not voted out of its house of origin (House bills out of the House; Senate bills out of the Senate), by then, it is likely dead for the session. The exception, of course, are bills that have been designated "necessary to implement the budget" or NTIB. 

The Legislature returns to committee hearings for the next three weeks, to hear the opposite chamber's bills. The next cutoff deadline is March 29th when all bills must be out their policy committees. The fiscal committee cutoff is April 4th. And all bills must pass the opposite chamber by April 12th. The regular session is scheduled to adjourn on April 23rd. A special session (or two or three) is expected.

Legislators are waiting for the next state revenue forecast, due out March 16th. This will tell the budget writers if there is additional state revenue to include in the biennial budget. The Senate budget is expected to be released on March 20th, with the House budget to follow soon thereafter.

A new bill that was introduced this week is HB 2143. It includes graduate health care degrees in the state's Opportunity Scholarship Program. SLPs and audiologists would be included in this scholarship opportunity. There is a service obligation in exchange for the scholarship; service would be in a health profession shortage area. This is one of those NTIB bills and is being promoted by the Speaker of the House. It's being heard on Tuesday. WSLHA is currently reviewing this bill.

Some good news on the education reform front! SB 5023, the school levy cliff bill, passed the Senate and the House this week and is on its way to Governor Inslee for his signature. The passage of this bill will allow school districts to finalize their budgets for the 2017-18 school year. Two changes were made in the Senate. First, starting next year, school districts must keep state and local funds in different accounts. Second, also starting next year, local levies must be submitted to and approved by OSPI before going to voters.

This Week's Events 

Health Care (Senate) - SHR 4, - 3/13 @ 10:00am

  • ESHB 1239 - Public Hearing - Concerning requests for medical records to support an application for social security benefits.

Early Learning & K-12 Education - SHR 1 - 3/13 @ 1:30pm

  • Work session: The state plan to implement the federal Every Student Succeeds Act by OSPI and the State Board of Education.

Higher Education (House) - HHR D, JLOB - 3/14 @ 8:00am

  • HB 2143 - Public Hearing - Expanding opportunities for higher education students.

Health Care (Senate) - SHR 2, - 3/14 @ 10:00am

  • ESHB 1523 - Public Hearing - Requiring health plans to cover, with no cost sharing, all preventive services required to be covered under federal law as of December 31, 2016.

Health Care & Wellness (House) - HHR A, JLOB - 3/15 @ 1:30pm

  • SB 5177 - Exec Session - Requiring long-term care workers to be trained to recognize hearing loss.
  • ESSB 5180 - Exec Session - Establishing the legislative advisory committee on aging.
  • SB 5436 - Exec Session - Expanding patient access to health services through telemedicine by further defining where a patient may receive the service.

Higher Education (House) - HHR D, JLOB - 3/15 @ 1:30pm

  • SSB 5022 - Public Hearing - Providing information to students about education loans.

WSLHA High Priority Bills

Bill #

Abbrev. Title

Short Description




SHB 1059 (SB 5023)

School levy lid revs./delay

Delaying implementation of revisions to the school levy lid.

H Passed 3rd



HB 1843 (SB 5623)

Basic education program

Fulfilling the state's paramount duty for all children through equitable and responsible investments in the state's basic education program and reductions to local effort contributions.

S Ways & Means



SB 5177

Hearing loss training

Requiring long-term care workers to be trained to recognize hearing loss.

H HC/Wellness



SB 5179

Hearing instrument coverage

Requiring coverage for hearing instruments under public employee and Medicaid programs.

H HC/Wellness



SB 5607


Concerning education.

H Approps



SB 5825

K-12 education funding

Addressing the state's paramount duty to fully fund K-12 education by creating a new partnership between the state and local school districts.

S Ways & Means