Last Friday marked the end of the second legislative funnel, clearing the way for lawmakers to focus primarily on budget issues for the remainder of the session. Most bills that didn’t pass either the House or Senate plus committee in the opposite chamber are now “dead” through the end of the session. The main exceptions are bills dealing with taxes, spending, and government oversight.
Some of Governor Kim Reynolds’ top priorities were among the measures to survive the second funnel. The House unanimously approved HF 848 last Monday, which would set up the grant program for Reynolds’ proposed three-year, $450 million broadband expansion effort. The bill does not include funding, which will be determined as lawmakers craft next year’s budget. As an Appropriations Committee bill, HF 848 was exempted from the funnel deadline. The Senate version, SF 390 passed that chamber’s Commerce Committee in February. Since Commerce bills aren’t “funnel proof,” Senate leadership saved the measure by placing it on the Unfinished Business Calendar last Thursday. Because the House and Senate versions are identical, the Senate will be able to bring the House bill straight to the floor for debate, rather than run it through the committee process.
Another Reynolds proposal focused on affordable housing is also safe from the funnel. House bill HF 582 and its Senate companion, SF 295 would create a new $15 million low-income housing credit; double the workforce housing credit to $50 million a year; and increase grayfield/brownfield credits to $20 million annually. It would also remove the real estate transfer tax cap, freeing up to $5 million for county housing trust funds. The measure would further create a new disaster housing assistance fund and include post-pandemic relief for businesses and banks through a downtown loan guarantee program. Both bills are under consideration by each chamber’s Ways & Means Committee, making them funnel exempt.
While committee and floor debate will continue for some surviving policy bills, lawmakers will spend most of their time hammering out a budget. The next major legislative deadline is the 110th day of the session, Friday, April 30. That’s when lawmakers’ daily stipend, or “per diem” paid by the state expires. After that, senators and representatives will front their own expenses until session adjourns. The Senate introduced the first non-education appropriations bill last Thursday, SSB 1256 which funds Transportation, Infrastructure, and Capitals.
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