OLYMPIA, Wash. — Is it possible to revive dead legislation by throwing money at it?
In their budget proposal released Wednesday, House Democrats included $100,000 for the implementation of House Bill 1817, otherwise known as the state Dream Act.
The bipartisan proposal to make undocumented foreign-born students eligible for need-based financial aid was essentially dead on arrival in the Senate. Higher Education Committee chairwoman Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, gave the bill a hearing but refused to bring it up for a vote, in which it likely would have been approved.
Senate majority leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, then affirmed that the bill was dead in an interview with the Yakima Herald-Republic last week, and blamed fellow Democrats in part for not accepting chairmanship of the Higher Education committee when it was offered in January.
But on page 167 of the House Democrats’ proposed budget, the money is allocated for funding the proposal unless it is not enacted by June 30.
The current legislative session ends April 28, but no one has ruled out the chance of a special session.
In his interview with the Herald-Republic, Tom said the only way the bill could get a floor vote were if lawmakers employed the 9th Order, a parliamentary procedure that suspends the rules of the chamber and requires strict coordination to avoid having just any bill brought to the floor.
“It’s seldom if ever done because everyone has to be locked down,” said Tom, who supports the bill. “In this case, everyone’s not going to be locked down.”
Senate Democrats said the bill’s failure reflects the shortcomings of Tom’s leadership abilities.
“If he didn’t want to lead, he shouldn’t have asked to be the leader,” Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, said Monday. “Instead of wringing his hands, Sen. Tom should be rolling up his sleeves and persuading the committee chair he appointed to move the bill he claims he supports.”
The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, passed the House 77 to 20 with numerous Republicans crossing party lines to support it. Among them were Reps. Charles Ross, R-Naches, and Norm Johnson, R-Yakima.