Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It is Day 71 of the scheduled 105-day legislative session in Olympia. I wanted to take a few moments to give you a quick status report.
Deadlines create 'dead and alive' bills
Wednesday, March 11 was the deadline for all bills, except those necessary to implement the budget, to be passed from their house of origin. Bills that did not make the cutoff are considered “dead” for the year. Here is a list of major “dead and alive” bills.
I had two bills that passed their respective committees:
- House Bill 1799 would have authorized counties to sell real and personal property at public auctions over the Internet, providing a cost savings to counties and allowing a broader audience to participate. Unfortunately, this bill did not make it out of the House Rules Committee.
- House Bill 1352 would have allowed incremental improvements in electricity efficiencies in hydro projects owned by Bonneville Power Administration to qualify as an eligible renewable resource. This bill also got hung up in the House Rules Committee. I'm particularly disappointed that this measure didn't make it further. We really need to find ways to provide flexibility under Initiative 937 or power rates will continue to reflect the higher cost of its renewable energy mandates.
Energy policy debated under Initiative 937
House Bill 1352 is part of a larger effort I am involved with in the Legislature to make revisions within the I-937 energy law. Our goal is to ensure that lower electricity rates and cleaner energy that were promised when the initiative became law in 2006 become reality. This week, I have an article appearing in both the Prosser Record-Bulletin and the Dayton Chronicle on this subject: Alternative pathways to energy law needed for cleaner, affordable electricity. I invite you to read the article.
Operating budget proposal anticipated
It is widely speculated that House Democrats will release a proposed state operating budget later this week. We expect it will be as high as $39 billion. Our current two-year operating budget is just over $34 billion.
As a member of the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, I'm pleased that our quarterly revenue forecast is up, which I reported in this news release on Feb. 20. That means an overall anticipated revenue increase for the next two years of just over $3 billion — or about nine percent — which should help us address the state Supreme Court McCleary decision requirement to increase K-12 education funding.
Gov. Inslee wants to increase state spending by about 15 percent. If House Democrats propose a budget beyond $37 billion, the debate in the final weeks of the session will likely center on whether or not there will be tax increases. As I mentioned early in the session, we need to scrub the budget and find every efficiency before asking citizens for any more of their money. There's still plenty of work to be done on the budget between now and the scheduled end of the regular session April 26.
Rep. Nealey in the newspaper, on the radio and on your TV
Throughout the session, I have been providing regular updates on our local cable channels and on our local radio stations. In addition, I've provided frequent articles to the Prosser Record-Bulletin and the Dayton Chronicle. If you've missed any of those, here's your chance to get caught up. I invite you to click on the links and watch, read and listen.
Watch: Legislative updates
- March 17 – Rep. Nealey gives an update on his work to make reforms within Initiative 937 to keep electricity rates down.
- March 3 – Rep. Nealey outlines his concerns about Gov. Jay Inslee's proposed carbon tax, which could hurt local industry and cost jobs.
- Feb. 12 – Rep. Nealey interviews Diahann Howard of The Port of Benton who brought a group of businesspeople from the Tri-Cities to Olympia to discuss business issues. (See photo above.)
Read: Articles to the Prosser Record Bulletin and Dayton Chronicle
- March 22 – Alternative pathways to energy law needed for cleaner, affordable electricity
- Feb. 27 – Governor's carbon tax scheme could hurt Washington's economy, cost jobs
- Feb. 6 – President called upon to bring sides together to end West Coast port dispute
Listen: Capitol Conversation with Rep. Terry Nealey
- Feb. 17 – Rep. Terry Nealey's guest is Logan Dozier, a WSU student from Waitsburg who came to the state Capitol to advocate for higher education.
Counting down to the finish line
Everyone is wondering whether the Legislature will finish its business on time by the end of its allotted 105-days on April 26. I know the issues are difficult. But nearly four months should be plenty of time to get finished. In these final weeks, the focus will be on the three budgets: operating, transportation and capital. In every vote I take, I will be thinking of how we can make Washington not only fiscally responsible, but a better place to live, work and raise a family.
As always, I invite your questions and comments. My contact information is below. Thank you for allowing me to serve you and the citizens of the 16th District.