Cutoff deadline reached, many bills survive

Bridges to a Better GovernmentWednesday was the last day that bills could be considered in their body of origin. It’s a legislatively self-imposed deadline called “floor cutoff” that is designed to keep the process moving as we pass the halfway point of the 2013 session. After that, only bills considered “necessary to implement the budget” (or NTIB) can continue to be debated by the originating body. Bills that passed the Senate will now be considered in the House of Representatives and vice-versa.

I have been very fortunate in that a number of my bills survived cutoff and will now spend the next few weeks being considered by committees in the House.

bizreformBUSINESS REGULATORY REFORM:

  • SB 5679 – My “rules review” bill. This would require the Department of Ecology, Department of Health, and Department Labor and Industries to perform a formal review of existing rules – using only existing funds – every five years. The objective of the review is to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses without compromising public health and safety by improving the process for licensing, permitting and inspection. The departments must also establish benchmarks to assess the progress of streamlining efforts, as well as      establish a process to eliminate redundant, outdated or unnecessary. Would also require reports to the Legislature by January 2014. Passed the Senate unanimously on March 11 and referred to the House Government Operations & Elections Committee.
     
  • SB 5680 – My “online licensing” bill. SB 5680 would add 13 state departments and agencies to the list of those required to provide some or all of their licenses online through the state’s Business Licensing Service, assuming both the licensing agency and the department agree to it. It would also remove two agencies which no longer provide licenses, and require an annual report to the governor and Legislature. Passed the Senate unanimously on March 11 and is scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Technology & Economic Development on Tuesday.
     
  • SB 5718 – My “one-stop portal” bill. This measure would require the Legislature to monitor the progress of an action plan for creating a single online location through which businesses could conduct all their interactions with state government. The state Office of the Chief Information Officer – in collaboration with the Department of Revenue, the Department of Labor and Industries, the Secretary of State, the Employment Security Department, the Department of Commerce, and the Office of Regulatory Assistance – would establish performance benchmarks for the action plan by November 2013. The OCIO would also be required to submit annual progress reports beginning January 1, 2014, but the act would expire when initial implementation is reached or if funding is not provided after the first progress report. Passed the Senate      unanimously on March 1 and had a public hearing in the House Committee on Technology & Economic Development Thursday.

The City of Kennewick created a one-stop shop for developers because they had to go to different locations in the city to figure out what permits were required. The one-stop shop provided a place for developers to conduct a pre-development conference, which has become an incredible mechanism for the city to answer all the builders’ questions. It’s time to take that success to the next level and create a statewide one-stop shop for businesses. Businesses that spend less time, resources and capital trying running around trying to comply with state regulations could instead spend that time reinvesting, growing and expanding…and that means creating jobs, one of the top priorities of the Senate’s bipartisan Majority Coalition Caucus.

EDUCATION REFORM:

  • SB 5701 – My bill would add the Professional Educator Standards Board to the list of organizations that may file complaints with the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Right now, the board is responsible for certifying teachers in our state but it lacks the ability to refer to OSPI those teachers it believes are submitting fraudulent test results. As a member of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee, I want to authorize the board to initiate investigations of teachers it has reason to believe are essentially trying to cheat the system, but I also want to provide the option for any certificated school employee whose certificate is in question to appeal any allegation. Passed the Senate unanimously on March 4 and had a public hearing in the House Committee on Education Thursday.

wind2ENERGY COSTS:

Unfortunately, SB 5648 did not survive past cutoff. This measure would have allowed utilities greater flexibility to meet conservation and eligible renewable targets and consumers’ energy needs in the most prudent and cost-effective manner. It would have encouraged energy conservation and removed some of the burdens electricity consumers are currently facing.

This issue isn’t just going to go away. As a state, we’ve learned the hard way that sometimes good intentions can backfire on our working families, and though I’m disappointed that SB 5648 – my “no buy before need” energy bill that would have helped to reduce high energy costs – didn’t make it past cutoff, I’m pleased that the Legislature is at least having the discussion. We need to talk more about this issue and really get under the hood, and that’s why I’ve asked all the parties involved to meet during the interim so that we can come back next session with a bipartisan, mutually agreed-upon piece of well-vetted legislation.

Click here to read the full Bridges to a Better Government e-newsletter for March 15, 2013.