Session Update: What to Watch in the Remaining Weeks
Many city-related issues remain in play for legislative action in the final weeks of the legislative session. (Published Apr 14, 2014)
This year’s short session will only have four weeks remaining when the Legislature reconvenes after Easter/Passover break on April 22. The Legislature must adjourn by May 19, giving them roughly a month to complete work for the 2013-2014 biennium.
Contact your legislators Use the time during break to contact your legislators about these issues and those listed in this week’s 15-Minute Advocate.
A few remaining items of city interest left to be completed include:
Tax conference committee Conferees have been appointed and differences between the two bills will be worked out in conference committee after break. See related articles on the Senate bill summary and House bill summary. A few items of city interest in the bills include:
Sales tax exemption cleanup. For information on the differences between the House and Senate sales tax exemption clean-up language, see related story.
Local government aid (LGA). The House tax bill includes an appropriation growth adjustment for the LGA formula that was omitted from last year’s final omnibus tax bill. The Senate tax bill leaves the small $1.5 million increase in the appropriation for each of the next two years.
Bonding bill The Senate’s bonding proposal is expected to be released this week or next, triggering further negotiations between the House, Senate, and governor. The bonding bill is typically one of the last bills to be passed. Transportation, wastewater, and housing are among the issues of statewide city interest to be discussed as part of a bonding bill. See related article.
Supplemental budget bill Broadband funding, SCORE funding, pothole funding, railroad and pipeline safety, workers’ compensation fixes, disaster assistance, airport assistance, waiver of fees on stormwater projects, and the creation of a legislative water commission will be part of conference committee discussions as the differences between the House and Senate versions of the supplemental budget bills are worked out. See related articles about the supplemental budget bill and about recent action on broadband.
Electronic cigarettes Language regarding the regulation on the sale and use of electronic cigarettes is still awaiting action on the House floor within the omnibus health and human services bill. In the Senate, the standalone electronic cigarette regulation bill is scheduled to be heard in the Rules and Administration Committee on April 23. See related article.
Groundwater management areas Language was included regarding groundwater management in the omnibus environment policy bill, which passed unanimously in the House and awaits final action by the Senate. See related article.
Local building official authority A bill that would clarify the process that local building officials must follow to receive authority from the state to inspect public buildings and state-licensed facilities is awaiting final action on the House and Senate floors. See related article.
Street improvement districts The League is advocating that the Legislature pass the street improvement district authorization initiative in 2014. See related article. There has also been recent media attention to this tool:
Pensions The omnibus pension bill passed the House floor last week and awaits action on the Senate floor. The bill still includes the contribution increase to the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) General Plan, extension of the phased-retirement option, and the annualization of PERA participation earnings threshold. See related article.
Agency Rulemaking The agency bill (HF 2724) to change how state agencies adopt rules will likely move towards passage this week. The bill has been amended to reflect concerns raised by the League and a large coalition of other local government, business, and agricultural groups. See related article.
Women’s Economic Security Act A bill aimed at increasing economic security and advancement for women, passed off the House floor and is now expected to be on the Senate Floor on April 23. See recent article.
Public Employee Relations Board A bill establishing a Public Employee Relations Board passed off of the House floor and now awaits action on the Senate floor.
Snowplowing of uncompleted subdivisions An elimination of the sunset allowing cities the authority to plow uncompleted subdivisions is awaiting action on both the House and Senate floors.
A bill that seems dead is never completely dead If a bill does not meet a committee deadline, the bill is technically dead for the remainder of the session unless it is resurrected by the Rules Committee in either the House or the Senate before resuming its committee journey.
Language from bills that did not met deadline can also be amended to bills that have met deadline on the House or Senate floor or in conference committee. In other words, nothing is dead until the session has adjourned.
Stay connected League staff will update cities via Capitol Updates and Twitter as more information becomes available about the status of issues and bills during the break.