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Advocacy at Work: The Greatest Bill in the History of Great Bills

by Ashley Kittrell | Aug 07, 2018
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Despite what Schoolhouse Rock would have you believe, passing legislation is not an easy task. The legislative process is designed so that bills fail. At the end of the last official day of session on March 8, an estimated 1,400 bills were introduced in the legislature. Only 300 passed and were sent to the Governor’s office for signature to officially become law.

Bracing from a long 2017 session that lasted 105 days and three additional special sessions each 30 days long, the legislature prepared itself for 60 days of nonstop activity, fearing another ominous series of special sessions if they failed to pass supplemental budgets and resolve key issues such as McCleary and Hirst.

In spite of the bleak introduction, this past legislative session was a successful one for the WSCPA. Of the 300 bills that passed, WSCPA-sponsored House Bill 2468 was among them. Effective June 7, this groundbreaking initiative allows accounting firms in British Columbia to perform attest or compilation services for businesses in Washington State that are substantially or wholly owned by a Canadian entity.

It wasn’t something that just happened overnight, however. The Washington State Board of Accountancy and the British Columbia Chartered Professional Accountants have been in collaboration for several years and signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation in 2015.

The months leading up to the 2018 Legislative Session were filled with meetings with WSCPA lobbyist Lisa Thatcher, calls with the Code Reviser’s Office, preparing talking points, asking members to testify, and marking our calendars with the Senate and House cutoff deadlines.

After a bill is introduced in the chamber of origin, it is referred to a corresponding committee for hearing and public testimony. The great thing about committee hearings is that you never know when they’re scheduled until a few days before, a week at most. We learned on January 9 that the hearing for HB 2468 was scheduled for January 17, which was, coincidentally, the same date as the first official WSCPA Hill Day.

After HB 2468 passed in the House with co-sponsor Representative Steve Kirby’s declaration that this “may be the greatest bill in the history of great bills” and memorable mic drop, it was sent to the Senate to undergo the same process. Read more and see the video here. There, our bill passed at the last minute in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee hearing.

As quickly as things move in the Legislature, it can also be a painstaking process of “hurry up and wait.” From February 15 to March 2, HB 2468 sat waiting to pass in the Senate. The cutoff date for bills from the opposite chamber was March 2. If it didn’t pass in the Senate, it would be deemed “dead” for the rest of the session unless extraordinary means were taken.

On the morning of March 2, the words “House Bill 2468” flashed on the Senate floor monitors notifying viewers which bill would be heard next. As quickly as it appeared, it disappeared and a different bill title replaced it. After a few tense moments, HB 2468 passed the Senate and headed to the Governor’s desk.

On March 22, several WSCPA members, the Executive and Deputy Director of the Board of Accountancy, and the Assistant Attorney General attended the signing of HB 2468.

Effective June 7, accounting firms in B.C. will have the ability to perform attest or compilation engagements for subsidiaries that are licensed and registered in Washington. In addition to lowering audit costs for small businesses, this initiative strengthens our relationship with our neighbor to the north, and we are optimistic that B.C. will pass similar legislation allowing Washington State accounting firms to provide the same services across the border.

We owe the successful passage of HB 2468 to the legislators who sponsored and supported it as well as the numerous WSCPA members who took time out of their busy schedules to call their legislators, attend Hill Day, and travel to Olympia to testify.

Ashley Kittrell headshotAshley Kittrell is the WSCPA Government Relations Coordinator. You can contact her at akittrell@wscpa.org or (425) 586-1150.

This article appeared in the summer 2018 issue of the WashingtonCPA Magazine. Read more here.

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