Legislature keeps homeless, veterans bills alive
by John Stang
A homeless-housing bill and a veterans' tuition bill got last-minute reprieves Friday afternoon.
The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus' leaders and the House's Democratic leaders agreed to make those two bills immune from a 5 p.m. Friday deadline to pass bills. In a joint letter, the leaders wrote that they hope to get both bills passed by next Thursday, which is the end of the current legislative session.
Over the protests of her fellow Senate Finance Committee members from both parties, Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, recently closed a committee meeting just before a vote on a bipartisan funding-for-homeless bill. She did not explain her reasons at that time.
The bill would have stopped the gradual phaseout of a $40 fee on home-sales documents used to help low-income people with rent on public and private housing. On Thursday, Angel said she was concerned about a lack of appropriate data from the state Department of Commerce and asked Gov. Jay Inslee to appoint a task force to study funding for helping with homelessness. On Friday, Inslee replied that Commerce has provided the appropriate data. He said a task force is not needed, and the bill can be revived.
Bills to grant in-state tuition to veterans from Washington military bases have passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. But the two bills have stalled in the opposite chambers amid a squabble over which party will get credit for the law.
But many other pieces of policy legislation are now dead from in action. To be sure, the Senate and House have ways to revive policy bills by making them amendments to budget bills or by declaring them to be related to the budget. Here are some of the proposals now considered dead:
- Measures regulating oil-laden trains and providing for emergency preparations for spills. The House passed such a bill, which has stalled in the Senate. A weaker Senate bill died in the Senate, apparently from an internal feud within the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus.
- Dueling Democratic and Republican bills on regulating toxic fireproofing materials
- The Reproductive Parity Act — requiring insurance companies providing maternity coverage to also cover abortions — passed the House, but died from lack of Senate action.
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