WashingtonVotes NEWS:January 30, 2015Bills on minimum wage, court reform, added spending, and cap-and-trade fill legislature’s busy week
Entering the 19th day of the 105-day regular session, legislators have taken their first floor votes by the full membership, after a busy week of committee hearings.
On Thursday the House passed a supplemental to the operating budget (HB 1105) for the current 2013-15 budget by a vote of 83-15. The bill would add $299.2 million in spending to the current $33.8 billion budget, including $1.2 million for costs related to fighting the Carlton Complex wildfires, to help with additional disaster relief and $21 million for mental health services. The 2013-15 fiscal period ends on June 30th.
House lawmakers unanimously passed HB 1258, “Joel’s Law,” to allow an immediate family member or guardian to ask a court to decide whether a potentially dangerous person should be involuntarily detained for evaluation or treatment. The bill is named after Joel Reuter, a 28-year-old Seattle man with bipolar disorder who was killed by police in July after firing a gun near officers. His parents had unsuccessfully tried to commit him for treatment under the involuntary treatment act.
Senate floor votes are scheduled Friday on several bills, including SB 5064, calling for state revenue forecasts to be issued in February instead of March to give lawmakers more time to write a budget, and SB 5081, providing for openness and public access in state collective bargaining negotiations.
In committee action, the House Labor Committee passed HB 1355 on Thursday to raise the state’s minimum wage, which at $9.47 is now the highest in the nation, to $12 per hour over four years. The vote to approve the bill was along party lines, four Democrats to three Republicans.
Governor Inslee’s cap-and-trade tax bill, HB 1314, received two days of public hearings in the House Environment Committee, and the House Transportation Committee heard testimony on HB 1358, a measure that would prohibit the public borrowing to pay the sales tax state officials charge themselves on state road building. Washington Policy Center’s Director of Research, Paul Guppy testified in support of the bill, urging that the state stop charging itself sales taxes on transportation projects, a practice that significantly increases public debt.
The Senate Law and Justice Committee held a public hearing Thursday on SB 8205, to create judicial districts for the election of state Supreme Court Justices. Jason Mercier, WPC’s Director of the Center for Government Reform, testified in support of the bill by telephone from Spokane. The statement was an example of remote testimony, to allow people to speak at legislative hearings without traveling to Olympia. The Senate adopted rules this week to facilitate taking remote testimony from citizens.
To read more about Washington Policy Center’s policy recommendations visit www. Washingtonpolicy.org, and track key legislation on www.washingtonvotes.org.