2021 Legislative Session

The Arc of Washington State is committed to ensuring that individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) have the information they need to have an active voice as legislative policies and budgets are crafted and passed each year. January 2021 will be a work in progress, as the legislature has never had to operate virtually before. Check back often for new details and information to help your voice be heard.

 

Budget:

Additionally, each legislative session the legislature has one requirement that they must complete: they must pass a balanced budget. The process begins with state agencies being required to provide their budget requests to the Governor’s office my mid-September. The Governor uses those requests to submit his budget proposal to the legislature (mid-December) to start their work on when legislative session begins in mid-January. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate then propose their idea of what the budget should look like. Then the leaders of the “5 corners” (the Governor, House Republicans, House Democrats, Senate Democrats & Senate Republicans) all meet to conference and decide what the final budget will be.

 

In September, State Agencies create Decision Packages (DP). They must provide a proposal to the Office of Financial  Management (OFM) that includes a defined percentage of cuts from the Governor, but can include requests for some increases.

 

In December, the Governor releases his budget proposal. He uses the agency requests as well as adds in the latest State revenue forecast. That may give him a little extra money to work in or may mean he has to make additional cuts. He cannot exceed state funds that are existing for the State’s budget.

 

In January, the Legislature begins meeting. Each chamber (House and Senate) introduces their own budget proposal. They continue to meet until mid-March in even numbered years or until mid-April in odd numbered years. They must then agree on a final budget. If they don’t have agreement by the end of session, the Governor will call them back for Special Sessions until agreement is reached.

 

On July 1st, the finalized budget goes into effect. If the Legislature has not yet reached agreement, the state’s operations must shut down until a budget is finalized and signed by the Governor, as there would be no money to pay state employees or the state programs people depend upon.

 

 

The Arc has compiled the important components to the 2021-2023 Budget Request from the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) and created an easy to read spreadsheet that you can access by clicking on the “View the 2020-2021 Biennial Budget” to the right. The entire DDA request can be found at the Office of Financial Management, select “2021-23 Regular” for the Budget Session, then scroll a little over halfway down the dropbox you will see and select “Developmental Disabilities (040).

 

Bills of Interest:

 

Although the budget bill is the priority each legislative session, there are sometimes new policies that need to be enacted around specific budget items. Legislators can also sponsor new bills that create a new law or modify a current law. The Arc of Washington State tracks all bills that are introduced during the session that relate to a developmental disabilities issue. The document gives you bill numbers, their legislative sponsor, where it is in the process and a description of what the bill would do. Throughout the legislative session, we then update the list of bills weekly. You can find the 2021 list of bills posted here once session begins in January, 2021.

 

Hearings for Bills:

 

Because of the pandemic, the 2021 legislative session will be all done virtually via Zoom. Once the legislative session begins, the legislative committees in both the House and the Senate begin holding committee hearings. One of the first hearings will be in House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means to give the public a chance to make their opinion known on the Governor’s budget proposal. Each week there is a schedule of hearings released that tells what committees are meeting on what day and time, and also lists the bill (or budget bill) numbers that the public can listen in to or testify themselves as to the bills pros and/or cons. Once committee hearings are scheduled in January, we will begin posting a Hearings of Interest list, which will be updated weekly. Watch for more details on how to testify remotely when we get closer to January 2021.

 

2021 Legislative Notebook:

 

Each year, The Arc of Washington State compiles a notebook filled with one-page information sheets about issues of importance to people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD), charts and data for those issues, relevant reports, information on Advocacy Days, the current list of legislators and the committees they serve on and so much more! The 2021 Legislative Notebook for Developmental Disabilities Advocates will be posted here on December 11, 2020. You can also view previous year’s notebooks (see below). These are large files so you will need to download the ZIP file, then open that to view the contents.

 

2020 Legislative Notebook         2019 Legislative Notebook            2018 Legislative Notebook

 

Other Resources:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change is made by those who show up!