(you can listen to the podcast here)
Ways & Means* - 03/18/09 1:30 pm
Senate Hearing Rm 4
J.A. Cherberg Building
The March 18th Senate Ways and Means Committee meeting in the Washington State Legislature provided an interesting opportunity for testimony to be heard on bills that would fund a variety of activities in King County, including funding for arts and heritage programs, tourism promotion, youth sport activities, regional centers, publicly owned stadiums, community development, and low income housing.
House Bill ESHB 2252 passed in the House on March 12th and was picked up by the senate committee. The senate has its own bill, SB 6116, but there are differences. The hearing gave public officials, and the general public, an opportunity to compare the two bills and voice their preferences.
Some differences between the two bills are few, but major.
ESHB2252 does not have as many taxes extending beyond the years 2012, 2015 and 2021. It does not provide funding or language in the bill to support stadiums and arenas, including capital improvements and maintenance for the existing Safeco and Qwest stadiums. This was a concern of Senator Zarelli, who vowed to ensure that any bill the moves forward include language that does not lead the Seattle Mariners to a "Sonic incident".
ESHB252 also is much more prescriptive and restrictive in its dividing of the funding between arts and heritage programs, regional centers, human services, low-income housing, and community development.
SB6116, that appeared to be the favorite among proponents of any bill, provides King County greater flexibility by listing some percentages of how some of the revenue should be divided, and a ranked priority list of subjects, but it leaves the finer management of the revenue to the King County Council.
SB6116 also extends taxes not included included in the House bill to pay for all of it.
Here is section 6 of the bill
NEW SECTION. Sec. 6. A new section is added to chapter 67.28 RCW to read as follows:
Money deposited in a special purposes account under this section may be used only for the following purposes within the county:
(1) Funding tourism promotion as defined in RCW 67.28.080;
(2) Funding youth or amateur sports activities or facilities;
(3) Funding regional centers or performing arts centers, but excluding regional centers or performing arts centers within:
(a) Cities with a population of one hundred thousand or more; and
(b) Cities described in RCW 35.57.010(1)(d);
(4) Maintaining or improving publicly owned stadiums or arenas;
(5) Funding community development; and/or
(6) Funding low-income housing.
Maybe this gets into the House bill, maybe it doesn't. If any stadium language is wanted in the House bill it may be difficult to do. The House rules make it difficult to insert language into the body of a bill that is not similar to the title of the bill. I know it sounds crazy, but it is true.
Unlike the US Congress we cannot make random amendments to bills - they have to be related to the topic in the bill and described by the title of the bill. Crafting titles is somewhat of a legislative art. RossHunter.com
Although, Ross Hunter did testify in the committee meeting that he thinks the house bill could be used to insert language from SB6116, "either bill could work".
Which bill moves forward is still unknown, and in what form. ESHB2252 may be amended by the senate, or substituted by the senate bill SB6116 with some minor adjustments to make it more passible by the House.
I do think that one way, or another, a bill has to pass because the funding for the arts, 4Culture, is set to expire this summer. Funding for low-income housing could also take a big hit.
I will keep an eye out for activity, and post it in the comments of this thread.