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Posted: Aug 30, 2018

Rolfes Honored by Fire Chiefs

State Sen. Christine Rolfes has been awarded the 2018 Honorary Fire Chiefs Award for her work to fund firefighter training and wildfire response during the 2018 Legislative Session.

Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island) is a 23rd District lawmaker, and the award is given by the Washington State Fire Chiefs to legislators who have made a significant contribution to the fire service and demonstrated courage in leadership.
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Posted: Jan 17, 2018

Washington Fire Chiefs Legislative Report - January 4, 2018

Prepared by: J. Dylan Doty, WFC Lobbyist

Session Preview

The 2018 Legislature will convene on January 8 and is set to run for 60 consecutive days.  With slim margins in both the House and Senate (one-vote Democratic majority in the Senate; two-vote Democratic majority in the House), and this being a short session leading into what promises to be a hotly contested 2018 election cycle, most are optimistic that the session will end on time in early March. 

Key topics that may be in play in 2018 include the Hirst water issue and the Capital Budget, both of which are holdovers from 2017.  Additionally, the McCleary education funding issue will again be in play in 2018 with the state Supreme Court ruling that the Legislature has not yet fully complied with the original McCleary funding order.  Despite the Court’s seeming acceptance of the overall plan passed by the Legislature in 2017, the phase-in period for parts of the plan that don’t fully take effect until 2019 are in violation of the 2018 deadline set by the Court.  Accordingly, the Court has ordered the Legislature to come up with what amounts to approximately $1 billion in 2018 to more quickly implement the restructuring.  The court will also maintain oversight of the case and the $100,000-per-day fines the justices imposed in 2015.  The Court is requiring the state to report back to the court in April 2018, after next year’s legislative session is expected to end.  Whether this will lead to new revenue options or simply a reshuffling of this past year’s work remains to be seen.  The latest revenue forecast shows that state revenues have increased by nearly $319 million for the current two-year state budget, and that the state is projected to have nearly $2.8 billion in reserves by the end of the biennium.  It is possible that some of this money could be used to speed up the process on McCleary compliance.  It is also possible that new funding sources, potentially including a carbon tax, could be sought to supplement the state revenue.

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Posted: May 31, 2017

New Process for Legislative Priorities

Traditionally, the Washington Fire Chiefs have set the session priorities based on a survey sent mid-April to members.  From those priorities, the Legislative Committee met and put together a strategic list of our “Top 5 Legislative Goals” for the following year.
 
At the WFC Conference in May, the legislative goals were presented for input and adopted by the membership.
However; some concerns were expressed about the process being too early before the session ends. This year, the legislative committee has decided to try a different process, in the hopes of better meeting our member's needs...

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Posted: Nov 16, 2015

Washington Fire Chiefs Legislative Report

  • Interim Update/Session Preview

    • The Legislature will be convening in Olympia for Committee Assembly Days on November 19 & 20.  Pre-session hearings and work group presentations on interim activities will be made, and session previews from agencies will take place.  This is a grand time to meet with legislators to discuss the upcoming session and any legislative action items we may have, as well as to gather signatures for bills to be prefiled for 2016.

    • The 2016 Legislative Session will begin January 11 and is scheduled to run for 60 consecutive days.  Most legislators (and lobbyists) are hoping to end on-time, with the focus turning quickly to the 2016 elections.  Plenty of work will need to be done before that can happen, though, with the need for a Supplemental Operating Budget appearing likely as the Legislature will look to tackle not just the education funding issue, but also the massive costs associated with the year’s wildfire season.  Similarly, a Supplemental Capital Budget is also on the table, though some legislators are already indicating that a supplemental may not be necessary.
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Posted: Jul 9, 2015

Washington Fire Chiefs Legislative Report - July

Legislative Session Update

The Third Special Session of the 2015 Legislature began Sunday, June 28 after a tentative deal on the Operating Budget was reached early morning Saturday, June 27.  Both the House and Senate passed the Operating Budget on Monday, June 29, and the Governor signed it into law shortly thereafter, thus avoiding a partial government shutdown.  But while the Operating Budget has been passed, as well as the Capital Budget and new gas tax increase for the Transportation Revenue Package, there is still work to be done, as disagreements linger regarding the potential suspension of I-1351 regarding reductions in class sizes for grades 4-12, as well as on the bonding components of the Capital and Transportation budgets.  It is expected that legislators will return to Olympia sometime after the Fourth of July holiday in hopes of completing their work sooner than later.

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