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WashingtonVotes NEWS: Friday, April 19, 2019

Democrats in Olympia pass new payroll tax, restrictions on household appliances, and a bill favoring unions. Governor signs state-level “Obamacare” rules into law.

Democrats in the state legislature this week gave final passage to several measures that figure prominently in Governor Inslee’s legislative agenda and presidential campaign. The clock for consideration of non-budget bills during this regular session ran out at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, but bills that have to be reconciled between the two chambers can still be voted on for final passage.

On Monday, the Senate passed HB 1257, which would impose new restrictions on commercial buildings by November 1, 2020, by a narrow 25-23 vote. The House approved the Senate amendments to the bill on Thursday and voted 55-39 for final passage to send the bill to the governor for his signature

Also on Monday, the Senate voted 26-22 to pass HB 1444, which would impose more restrictions on household appliances that use electricity or water, including washing machines, toilets, and dishwashers. The restrictions are like those imposed by California and would apply to appliances sold in Washington that are manufactured after January 1, 2021. The House approved Senate amendments to the bill and sent it to the governor on Thursday, with a 55-39 vote on final passage.

The Senate on Tuesday voted 26-22 to impose a new payroll tax to pay for a long-term care program to provide patients with assistance in daily living. Under HB 1087, which passed the House earlier this session, the state would take just over a half-percent from employee paychecks starting in 2022, but no one would receive benefits until 2025.

The Senate late last Friday passed an amended version of HB 1575, a measure backed by public employee unions to get around the landmark U.S. Supreme Court “Janus” ruling that recognizes the right of public workers to leave a union and not be fired. The House approved the Senate amendments and sent the bill to the governor for signature with a 56-38 vote on final passage.

The governor, back from a campaign trip out-of-state, on Wednesday signed HB 1870, a measure to make provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare,” state law. Under the new law, Washington insurance customers now will have to pay for coverage of pre-existing conditions, a wide range of costly benefits, and limits on the out-of-pocket expenses a covered person must pay. It also requires payment for unlimited lifetime health care benefits by insurers.

Bills that failed to meet this week’s deadline and are likely dead for this session include SB 3339, to abolish Washington’s death penalty, and SB 5323, to impose a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.

HB 1638, to end the ability of parents to exempt their children from vaccination against measles for personal reasons passed the Senate late on Wednesday by a 25-22 vote. The House had passed a different version of the bill earlier this session. The latest version would keep medical and religious exemptions but would end the ability for parents to refuse to vaccinate their children for personal or philosophical reasons. The bill must now go back to the House for a final vote.

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2019-2020

Bills Introduced
2204
Amendments Introduced
1365
New Laws Passed
0088