- Associated Press - Friday, March 14, 2014

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - In a 60-day Legislative session that ended without the need for overtime work, lawmakers stayed until the very end, adjourning at nearly midnight Thursday.

While it was a long final day of bill passing, a large number of bills were left for dead.

A $155 million supplemental budget passed, as did a measure to keep funding homeless prevention programs through fees on real-estate sales. Another bill allowing military veterans to pay in-state college tuition without waiting a year to establish residency passed unanimously through both chambers.’

But, efforts to pass a transportation package stalled, as did a budget measure funding statewide construction projects, a medical marijuana regulation bill and a measure that would have mandated the use of standardized test data in teacher evaluations.

“This is divided government and we probably should not be shocked that when you have divided government that you may not have as many bills passed,” Gov. Jay Inslee said, referring to the fact that Democrats control the House and a predominantly Republican majority controls the Senate.

But he did note things that he was happy made it through the legislative process, including a measure that expands state college financial aid to students who don’t have legal status in the United States, and the homeless measure.

“I think legislators ought to have feelings of accomplishment on those issues and those shouldn’t be ignored,” he said.

However, on issues like the transportation revenue package, Inslee said he had “great frustration.”

“It is such a looming issue,” he said.

Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler of Ritzville said the session highlight for him was passing the supplemental budget in a bipartisan manner.

“The most important thing we do here is budget,” he said.


IMMIGRATION-FINANCIAL AID: A measure to expand college financial aid to include students who were brought to the state illegally as children passed both the Senate and House with bipartisan support. The measure requires students to have received a high school diploma or equivalent in Washington state and to have lived in the state for at least three years beforehand. The bill allocates $5 million through June 30, 2015, from the general fund to pay for the financial aid payments under the state need-grant program. Inslee has signed off on the bill.

SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET: The bipartisan supplemental budget agreement that heads to the governor will add more money to basic education and cap tuition increases for public college students for the second year in a row. The budget proposal has a $155 million spending increase over the $33.6 billion, two-year state operating budget approved by the Legislature last year. The budget puts $58 million toward K-12 materials and supplies and an additional $25 million for “opportunity scholarships” for students who are pursuing degrees in what are known as the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and math. The budget also allots more than $20 million in community mental health, including $7 million in response to a settlement that requires the state to expand mental health services for children.

HOMELESS PROGRAMS: A bill that would retain a $40 fee on real-estate sales that pays for homelessness prevention in Washington state passed through the Legislature and will head to the governor for signing.

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