Photo: The cherry blossoms in full bloom at the Washington State Capitol this week.
Dear friends and neighbors,
Today marks the 96th day of the legislative session, and with only 9 more to go, we are officially in the home stretch. We are now focused primarily on negotiating final budgets and concurrences as we head toward Sine Die (the last day of session) on April 23rd.
Our state Constitution requires that every bill pass both chambers in exactly the same form before heading to the Governor. Any bill that was amended in the opposite chamber has to go back to the first chamber for the new changes to be accepted or disputed. The next 9 days will be spent in this process as we try to reconcile all the bills. In the concurrence process are three possible responses for the original chamber:
Concurrence: If we (the Senate) vote to concur on the House amendments on a bill, we then take an immediate subsequent vote on final passage. The bill will then have passed both chambers in the same form and head to the Governor.
Do not concur and request the House to recede: This vote by the Senate sends the bill back to the House with the hope they recede and accept the bill as it passed the Senate. If they do not want to recede, they can vote to “insist” which then sends the bill back to the Senate. Usually bills in dispute like this get worked out but occasionally a bill will die in this ping pong between chambers.
Do not concur and request a conference: For more complicated and significant bills where there is likely a middle ground to be arrived at between the House and Senate versions, we can request a conference committee. The conference committee then works on a compromise version of the bill which then gets sent to the two chambers for an up or down vote.
Reproductive Health Freedom
Washington has long led the way on protecting access to reproductive health services. In the wake of the precedent-breaking Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, we are more committed than ever to ensuring that access to abortion services and other reproductive services are protected in our state. Since 2018, the Legislature has passed numerous bills to protect reproductive healthcare access and that progress has continued this session in a major way.
Here is a snapshot of the bills we are working to pass this session:
- HB 1155 Protects private, personal health data.
- HB 1469 The “shield law,” helps protect people seeking an abortion in Washington from prosecution in their home state.
- HB 1340 Prevents license discipline for health professionals for performing legal medical procedures.
- SB 5768 Authorizes the Executive branch to buy a large supply of Mifepristone, an abortion medication that is under attack from anti-choice activists.
- $15 million to support access to reproductive healthcare.
Stay in Touch
I always welcome your feedback. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Andy.Billig@leg.wa.gov.