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Olympia: The day of the dead bills. And the living.

Lawmakers' treasured ideas face a deadline at sundown Friday. And even if the ideas for schools and social issues survive for now, the proposals' fates could be grim.
Washington State Capitol

Washington State Capitol Washington State House Democratic Caucus/Flickr

There's a stereotypical horror movie character known as  "the final girl." She's the sole survivor after the film's monster kills off everyone else one by one.

Think Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween. Battered, but strong and savvy.

Today is when we find out which statehouse bills will become the final girls — at least until the next installment of deadline decision making rolls around. Today (Friday) is the cut-off date for policy bills to pass out of their Senate and House committees — or they die. Most will die.

Meanwhile, budget bills can supposedly stay alive until this session is over. The definition of a bill "necessary to implement the budget" is pretty flexible — boiling down to dollars being somewhere in it.

Here are examples of the two types of bills. Mukilteo Democrat Rep. Marko Liias' bill to have a task force looking into gay-to-straight conversion therapy is a policy bill and will die today because it never had a public hearing in a House committee. Meanwhile, La Center Republican Sen. Ann River's bill to provide tax exemptions for clay pigeons bought by nonprofit shooting clubs could be considered "necessary to implement the budget" because it involves tax revenue and will survive this week in its search for a public hearing and a committee vote.

Actually, there are esoteric parliamentary ways to bring policy bills back from the dead — sort of like Jason Voorhees when a Friday The 13th sequel is planned.

So, which policy bills are gonna live, and which are gonna die?

Education — the top priority this session — is a good place to look at all this. Democrats and Republicans have radically different approaches on how to meet a Washington Supreme Court ruling to significantly improve K-12 education.

Democrats believe $1.4 billion is needed, saying the right systems are more or less in place but need cash to put everything into action. A good chunk of that cash could increase teachers' salaries. So the Dems will publicly concentrate on education budget legislation a few weeks from now. Meanwhile, Republicans believe reform, not money, is the key upgrade schools. So the GOP's primary education bills must be out of committee as of today. Republicans believe $900 million or possibly less is needed to meet the Supreme Court's mandates.

Several Republican education reform bills have made it through Senate committees and await probable passage by narrow margins in the full Senate. One of the highest-profile bills out of committee is Mercer Island Sen. Steve Litzow's legislation to grade schools on an A-to-F scale with improving schools and "A" schools getting extra money. Another is Puyallup Sen. Bruce Dammeier's bill to retain students in the third grade if they cannot read at a certain level.

But one Republican education reform bill ended up with too many problems to be fixed. That was Lakewood Sen. Mike Carrell's bill to provide bonuses to science and math teachers. It turned out that there is no shortage of math and science teachers, plus senators learned that it would cost $60 million to $80 million every two years to pay those bonuses. "That's going to stall. It had a huge price tag," said Litzow, chairman of the Senate K-12 Education Committee.

Despite the introduction of that now-dead bill, Republican leaders now say there is no good correlation between teacher's pay and success for students — a major factor in Republicans being reluctant to raise teachers' salaries to help meet the state Supreme Court's mandates.

One group of bills will become final girls or mad slasher victims today. That's a group of conflicting mandatory sick leave and Family Medical Leave Act bills.

Everything depends on which party is in the majority, which means that party appoints the committee chairpersons who decide what bills get chances to move on from their committees. That translates to a lot of Democrat "final girl” bills among the skewered GOP legislation in the House, and lots of Republican "final girl" bills among the massacred Dems in the Senate.


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