State Relations

February 24, 2021

Session news: Legislators move to the House and Senate floor to consider bills

It’s week seven of session and proposed legislation is now being considered on the floor by all legislators in the chamber they originated in. Bills that did not advance out of the fiscal committee in their house of origin by Feb. 22 are now considered dead unless they are necessary to implement the budget (NTIB). In order to continue through the process, bills must pass on the floor in their house of origin by 5 p.m. on Mar. 9.

Senate Bill 5323, which freezes wages and salaries and requires 24 furlough days for all state employees during the 2021-23 biennium, did not move out of the Senate fiscal committee (Ways & Means). The bill’s lack of movement is a good sign, but the UW Office of State Relations and broader higher education community will continue to monitor it in case it is determined NTIB or remains part of budget discussions.

The House and Senate budget proposals are expected to be released in mid-March after the quarterly economic and revenue forecasts are published. The recent revenue collections report provided by the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council shows cumulative state revenue collections are nine percent higher than forecasted in November. Washington state, along with the nation and world, saw catastrophic revenue losses in 2020 resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. While the state still faces challenges ahead, recent revenue projections are moving in the right direction and make the need for significant state budget cuts less likely.

Legislative session is scheduled to end on April 25. All remaining bills must move out of their house of origin and into the opposite chamber for consideration by 5 p.m. on Mar. 9. Shortly thereafter, the House and Senate budget proposals will be released and negotiations toward a final compromise budget will begin.

To view the legislative session cutoff calendar, click here.