Monday, April 15, 2024

Legislature Passes Budget, Adjourns

Legislature Passes Budget, Adjourns

On Thursday, March 7, the Washington State Legislature came to a close.  Both chambers passed a supplemental operating budget and then adjourned. The budget, which added an additional $2.1 billion to the $69.8 billion biennial budget that the legislature passed last year, includes funding for Substitute House Bill 1985, providing a one-time cost of living adjustment (COLA) to PERS 1 and TRS 1 retirees.

The 896 page bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support (39 yeas, 8 nays, 2 excused) and the House on a party line vote (58 yeas, 39 nays, 1 excused). It now heads to Governor Jay Inslee for signature. The Governor has the authority to veto entire sections of the bill, which the Legislature can override with a two-thirds vote.  The Governor has 20 days (not including Sundays) to act on bills that are received within the final five days of session.

The 2024 Legislative Session was highly successful for RPEC. In addition to SHB 1985 and the budget, five other bills passed with RPEC’s support:

  • 2ESHB 1508: Improving consumer affordability through the health care cost transparency board.
  • HB 2481: Waiving month-of-death health benefit premiums in the Public Employees Benefits Board.
  • SSB 5986: Protecting consumers from out-of-network health care services charges.
  • ESSB 6069: Improving private Washington workforce retirement security standards by establishing Washington Saves, an automatic enrollment individual retirement savings account program.
  • SB 6094: Aligning statutory language concerning the retired state employee and retired or disabled school employee health insurance subsidy with the historical interpretation and implementation of the relevant subsidy language in the operating budget.

The Legislature will look different when it reconvenes in 2025. A number of legislators have announced their retirements, including Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D, Spokane), Senate President Pro Tempore Karen Keiser (D, Des Moines), former House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox (R, Yelm), Senate Ways & Means ranking member Lynda Wilson (R, Vancouver), Senator Sam Hunt (D, Olympia), Representative Joel Kretz (R, Wauconda), and Representative Spencer Hutchins (R, Gig Harbor). Democratic Senators Mark Mullet (Issaquah) and Kevn Van De Wege (Lake Sutherland) are running for Governor and Public Lands Commissioner, respectively, and will not be running to retain their seats. Neither will Representative Jacqueline Maycumber (R, Republic), who is running for Congress, and Representative Kelly Chambers (R, Puyallup), who is running for Pierce County Executive. Now that the Legislature has adjourned, RPEC’s advocacy work will include educating and vetting new candidates for public office.

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