Special Session is Imminent....

This week marks the final week of the regular legislative session, which will end on Sunday, April 26.

Bill Clarke

Last Wednesday was the deadline for bills to be passed by the opposite chamber – meaning that House bills must have been passed by the Senate or Senate bills passed by the House.  If a bill passed both chambers of the Legislature in the identical form, the bills will then be signed and sent to the Governor’s Office for signature or veto.  REALTORS® priority bills have all passed the Legislature:  SB 5288 (extending funding for the WA Center for Real Estate Research); HB 1309 (Sale of floating homes by real estate brokers); and HB 1730 (Procedures for return of earnest money).  The House and Senate floors will be working through the “concurrence” calendar, which consists of bills that were amended in the second chamber.  The bills can be concurred with or rejected, and a conference committee can be appointed to resolve differences.  In addition, budget leaders in the House and Senate will continue to negotiate over differences in the House and Senate version of the Operating and Capital Budgets.  The House and Senate budgets include nearly identical levels of increased funding for basic education to comply with the state’s McCleary Supreme Court decision.  The notable differences in the budgets are in additional non-education spending in the House budget, supported by a tax increase of approximately $1.5 billion from a new state capital gains tax and an increase in the service rate B&O tax paid by real estate and other service businesses.  The House has not taken a vote on this tax package, and Senate budget leaders have said they will not negotiate on a final budget until the House can pass both its spending and revenue bills.  This means that it is unlikely that the Legislature will complete the budget prior to the end of regular session, and that at least one special session will be necessary. 

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