Are they Dead or Alive?
Published Feb. 18, 2008
Advocates have anxiously been waiting to see whether the bills we have worked to get this far will get voted out of their House of Origin. So far we have seen a couple of education bills related to autism and some long term care issues pass and we are hopeful other bills we have worked so hard on will follow suit. Tomorrow (2/19) is the deadline for bills to be voted on and move to the other House.
Most bills had a sponsor in one House who started the bill, then a legislator in the other House sponsored a companion bill so that the issue had two chances to make it through the process. By now one version has usually died and our hopes are pinned on the remaining bill to make it through the process. We still have more than a dozen bills with a chance to pass.
One set of bills that unfortunately did not make it were the Infant Toddler Equity Act (ITEA - HB 2900/SB 6713) which would have provided additional funding for early intervention services that are currently underfunded. Don’t give up hope yet though, advocates are still working with Senate budget writers in the hope of getting some funding included in the budget.
Another factor that will affect the bills with a fiscal note is the state’s revenue forecast, which was released on Friday. The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council found that the state has not received as much revenue as they thought they would over the last three months. They have a shortfall of $423.4 million, about 1.4% of the state’s overall budget. In the overall scheme of things this is not a huge amount, but it’s enough to make legislators pull the purse strings a little tighter. Click here to read the Council’s summary: http://www.erfc.wa.gov/pubs/pres0208.pdf
Last Wednesday was the Independent Living Day Rally on the capitol steps. A variety of speakers spoke on issues such as accessibility and independence. The Raging Grannies were a big hit as usual. The weather was great and advocates made sure to connect with their legislators to let them know what issues were important to them.
The Olympia Insider video podcast is a concise preview and review of what’s happening with developmental disability advocacy in Washington’s capitol city. Go to http://www.arcwapodcast.org/ to see the newest episode on the Life Long Learning issue.
What can you do to help?
The Arc of Washington State has an Action E-list you can sign up for that makes it very easy for you to let your legislators know what is most important to you. When bills or budget items need emails or phone calls targeted to your legislator you will receive an email with basic information about the issues and a suggested email you can revise or just send that will go directly to your legislator from you with just the click of a button. You can also participate in this process by phone, email and personal visits to ask legislators to pull the bills you are most concerned about to the floor for a vote before the Feb 19th cutoff. This week’s Advocacy Day will be back at United Churches at 10 am. We will have information on the Birth to Three bills/budget process as well as an update on the status of our other bills and the budget process.
We have only made it through half the process, your voice is still needed to get the second half moving. Change is made by those who show up, so keep on showing up!
Gearing up for another busy month ahead,
Arc of Washington State
Policy and Advocacy Coordinator