Preliminary reports from Olympia indicate that 2ESSB 5539 is not included on the agenda for tomorrow’s House Ways & Means Committee meeting. While the best case scenario would be a hearing in Ways & Means and action on the bill by end of tomorrow, it’s far from fatal if that doesn’t happen. In the legislature, many bills are labeled necessary to implement the budget (NTIB). Our legislative team has been working with our supporters in Olympia and we have been assured that 2ESSB 5539 can fall into this category.
It’s that time in the legislative session when many of the standard procedural rules are thrown out the window. Your legislative team believes that the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program is very much alive, but that it is time to shift our focus. We believe that Representative Hunter and Speaker Chopp have gotten the message and it is counterproductive to push them further at this juncture. You can be most helpful by shifting your energy to contacting the two House Representatives from your own legislative district.
Many believe the legislative process is very ordered and that it follows rules that are set in stone. While this is generally true, as the session ends, the rules become more flexible. This is the grey area we are in now with respects to the passage of 2ESSB 5539. When the final statewide budget is agreed on by the House and Senate, part of that process is examining what bills are needed to reach the ending balance. In order to make the budget work, those bills will need to be passed. We believe that the final agreement will include 2ESSB 5539.
So you may be curious how a bill gets voted on without committee action. There are numerous procedural moves that could bring the bill to the House floor for a vote. It is also possible for the House Ways & Means Committee to hear the bill and take action. This is possible because all NTIB bills are exempt from cutoff restrictions and thus, still actionable after 5 p.m. on Monday.
As legislators from your district consider the final statewide budget, ask them to approve 2ESSB 5539. Remind them that the legislation creates jobs and your livelihood depends on it. It is important to remember they are under tremendous pressure to close the budget gap and minimize cuts in social service and government programs. Most elected officials realize measures that create jobs are an important part of our state’s economic recovery. Remind them that 2ESSB 5539 falls into this category.
Many members of our community have expressed interest in going to Olympia on Monday to lobby on behalf of the legislation. Again, efforts should be focused on contacting Representatives from districts that you live/work in. We anticipate the membership will be debating and voting on the proposed budget tomorrow. Their availability may be limited. The majority of elected officials will arrive in Olympia in the early afternoon and go into session at 1:30 p.m. The best opportunity to discuss the bill will be to call them off the floor by submitting a note via a House Page.
Amy Lillard will be in Olympia tomorrow to meet with film industry professionals between 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. It is important that you connect with Amy before speaking with elected officials to get any available updates about the legislation. She will also have materials you can distribute to Representatives and Staff. If you plan on coming to the capital tomorrow, please email Amy directly (Amy@WashingtonFilmworks.org).
Thanks for your continued support and please let us know if you plan on being in Olympia tomorrow.