This is the $52.4 billion state operating budget for 2019-21, an increase of over 18percent in current spending and the first in the state’s history to exceed $50 billion. Top spending items include $451 million for state employee salary increases and benefits that were negotiated as part of union contracts; $3.9 billion for state funding of schools, including pay increases for school employees; and $280 million for mental health, including increased staffing at the state’s psychiatric hospitals. The budget also includes $2 million for added security costs related to Governor Inslee’s presidential campaign travel.
Senate roll call on the bill.
This bill raises the limits on local school levies that were imposed as part of the 2017 legislature’s plan to comply with the state school funding mandates set in the McCleary court ruling. Under the plan, state property tax rates increased significantly while local levies were to be limited to provide more equitable funding for schools statewide. The current limit is $1.50 per $1,000 of property value or $1,500 per student, whichever is less. The new limit is now $2.50 per $1,000 of value or $ 2,500 per student in school districts with fewer than 40,000 students. For districts with more than $40,000 students, the per-student limit is raised to $3,000. The bill also eliminates annual local effort assistance funding to charter schools.
During debate, Republicans argued that lifting the local levy limits will once again create the kind of inequities that led to the underfunding of schools court case in the first place. They also objected to excluding charter schools, which are public schools, from state funding assistance.
Senate roll call on the bill.
This is an Initiative to the Legislature under which lawmakers had the choice to take no action and let the measure go back to the people for a vote, propose alternatives, or pass the measure outright, as they did this weekend.
Initiative 1000 reverses Initiative 200, which was approved by state voters in 1998, to prohibit state agencies and institutions from granting preferential treatment in public education, public employment, and public contracting on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. Initiative 1000 now brings back state affirmative action policies to include recruitment, hiring, training, promotion, outreach, setting and achieving goals and timetables, and other measures designed to increase Washington's diversity in public education, public employment, and public contracting.
During debate on the measure, opponents pointed out that Initiative 1000 would abolish the current standard of equality for all persons and replace it with a system of different rules for different people. They also argued that the people of Washington should be allowed to vote on Initiative 1000, because it overturns Initiative 200 which voters had approved by more than 60 percent in 1998.
Senate roll call on the measure.
This bill changes the real estate excise tax (REET), usually paid by the seller, from the current flat 1.28 percent to a graduated rate. Homes selling for $500,000 to $1.5 million will remain at the 1.28 percent rate, but houses selling for up to $3 million will be taxed at 2.75 percent, and those over $3 million at 3percent. Homes selling for under 500,000 will be taxed at a lower 1.1 percent rate. The tax is estimated to raise $243.5 million over the next two years, with most of that allocated to general state spending. The bill also allows cities and counties to impose an additional REET for general spending purposes and capital improvements.
House roll call on the bill.
his bill imposes tax hikes on Washington businesses to raise $376 million over the next two years. The tax increases are tiered in three broad categories. Service businesses, such as legal, insurance, engineering, and smaller software companies will have to pay a 20 percent surcharge on their current business taxes. Large computing companies with worldwide gross incomes of $25 billion to $100 billion will pay 33 percent on top of their current rate. Hi-tech and software companies with gross global income of over $100 billion are charged 66.7 percent above their current rate. Most of the money collected is not part of the $52.4 billion state budget, but will go to a separate account to pay for expanded higher education programs, including free tuition for families making up to $50,000 a year.
Senate roll call on the bill.
This was a blank “title only” bill, brought out late Friday and amended by House Democrats with a new bill imposing a 1.2 percent additional tax on banks that are members of larger financial groups with more than $1 billion in annual net income. That means smaller banks, many of which are members of such financial groups but don’t have near this kind of income, will be subject to the additional tax. It nearly doubles the existing tax rate for banks, making Washington’s tax among the highest in the country. The new tax is expected to raise $133.2 million for general state spending over the next two years.
Senate roll call on the bill.
This bill would make both the Interstate 405 express toll lanes and State Route 167 express toll lanes permanent and assign separate toll revenue accounts. It would also authorize tolling on and create an account for, the future Puget Sound Gateway facility. This facility is defined as SR 167 between North Meridian Avenue in Puyallup and I-5 in Fife, the SR 509 spur between I-5 in Fife and SR 509 in Tacoma, and SR 509 between South 188th Street and I-5 in SeaTac. As passed, the bill would also direct that a lower rate schedule for low-income drivers be considered for the SR 509 portion of the facility.
The bill was referred to the House Transportation Committee for a hearing on Saturday, April 27th
This bill would roughly double the double the state’s hazardous substances tax (HST) on petroleum products by changing it to a volumetric rate of $1.09 per 42-gallon barrel. Under current law, a 0.7 percent is collected on the wholesale value of all hazardous substances. The bill would not change the tax on non-petroleum products.
During debate, proponents argued that raising the tax is necessary to pay for the cost of cleanup projects, which includes borrowing $80 million through bonds. Republicans strongly opposed raising the tax, warning that the increase would affect fuel prices for consumers and would add more burdens to an industry that provides good jobs.
The bill was referred to the House Finance Committee for further consideration.
The bill is a comprehensive measure to deal with the opioid crisis and passed both houses with near unanimous votes earlier this month. The bill stalled this week when the Senate refused to agree to a House amendment to the bill. The amendment would prohibit the state Health Care Authority from working with any public agency that sponsors “safe injection” sites for the injection of illicit drugs. If enacted, the amendment would prevent public health dollars going to any city or county that sponsors a public facility for illegal drug use.
After agreement could not be reached, a conference committee was appointed by the House and Senate to work out a compromise version of the bill.
This bill would impose a tax of $0.10 per milliliter of solution on vapor products and a
a tax on heated tobacco products at a rate of $0.60 per ounce. Heated tobacco products, or heated cigarettes, are tobacco products that produce aerosols containing nicotine and other chemicals, which are inhaled by users through the mouth. Under the bill the Governor would be authorized to enter into vapor products taxation compacts with federally recognized Indian tribes, and establishes requirements for such compacts.
The bill was referred to the House Finance Committee of further consideration.
The bill removes a provision allowing a dealer to deliver a pistol to a purchaser who produces a valid concealed pistol license prior to the completion of a state background check.
The new law would expire six months after the date on which the Washington State Patrol determines that a single point of contact firearm background check system is operational in the state.
The bill is headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
This bill is part of Governor Inslee’s “climate change” legislative agenda. It aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by phasing out hydrofluorocarbons used in refrigerators and other equipment. It had passed both chambers, but the House refused to concur on Senate amendments to the bill. The Senate backed off its amendments, one of which would have delayed implementation of the bill by a year, and approved it on final passage.
The bill is headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
This bill, when enacted, will establish the Keep Washington Working work group within the state Department of Commerce. The work group is required to develop strategies and methods to strengthen immigrants' career pathways, provide workforce stability for the agriculture industry, and recommend approaches to attract immigrant-owned businesses.
Under the bill, state and local law enforcement agencies, school resource officers and security departments may not provide information to federal immigration authorities for civil immigration enforcement or provide nonpublic personal information about an individual to federal immigration authorities unless otherwise required by law.
The bill is headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
This bill would bar public employees from seeking refunds of fees they were wrongly forced to pay to government unions. In the ”Janus” case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to require public employees who are not members to pay fees to the union. The court ruled an employee's clear consent is required before dues may be deducted from the employee's pay. Since that ruling in 2018, public employees across the country have instituted class action lawsuits to recover the past fees they have paid. This bill says workers cannot get their money back by providing that public employers and public employee unions are not required to return union fees that were deducted prior to the Court’s ruling.
This is the vote to approve the Senate amendment, which provides that an employer must end payroll deduction of dues no later than the second payroll, rather than the first payroll, upon receiving confirmation that the employee has revoked authorization to deduct dues.
The bill is now on its way to the Governor for his signature.
Proposed by Governor Inslee, this bill would impose new energy limits and restrictions on commercial buildings by November 1, 2020. As passed by the Senate, the bill requires the state Commerce Department to develop new energy efficiency standards to maximize reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Building owners would also have to comply with state-mandated energy management plans, operations and maintenance programs, energy audits, and other energy limitation measures imposed by department rules. The bill also mandates other steps, such as requiring the State Building Code Council to come up with rules for electric-vehicle charging in new buildings.
This is the vote to approve amendments by the Senate that clarified a number of provisions like the size of electrical rooms, and the number of parking spaces allotted for electric vehicle charging. It also moves the effective date of certain building code changes to July 1, 2021. The bill is now on its way to the Governor for his signature.
This bill, which passed the House along partisan lines by a 57-41 vote last month, would impose restrictive efficiency standards for most appliances that use electricity or water, including washing machines, toilets, and dishwashers. The restrictions follow those imposed by California and Vermont and would apply to appliances sold in Washington that are manufactured after January 1, 2021.
As passed by the Senate, the bill would remove federally preempted efficiency and testing standards and establish new minimum efficiency and testing standards for covered products. It would also authorize the state Department of Commerce to adopt rules that incorporate federal efficiency standards for federally covered products and to adopt by rule a more recent version of any standard or test method in order to maintain consistency with other comparable standards in other states. The bill is now in its way to the Governor for his signature.
This bill, which passed the House last month on a 50-40 vote, would end the personal exemption for parents who choose not to vaccinate their children against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). The bill would keep medical and religious exemptions but removes philosophical or personal exemptions for the MMR vaccine. It would allow proof of disease immunity through laboratory evidence or history of disease to substitute for immunizations.
During debate, opponents of the measure questioned the safety and urgency of the vaccine. They pointed out that, if enacted, the bill would not take effect for 90 days after the session ends on April 28th. The Senate amendment to the bill removes the provision allowing a child to be exempt from vaccine requirements if the child has a parent or sibling with a history of immune system problems or an adverse reaction to a particular vaccine. It also removes the grandfather clause for high school students who currently hold a personal exemption, meaning that previously exempt children would have to be vaccinated. The bill goes back to the House to consider the Senate amendments before final passage.
This bill was passed by the House in February by a vote of 63-33. It would impose a new payroll tax to pay for a long-term care program to provide patients with assistance in daily living. Under the bill, the state would collect just over a half-percent from employee paychecks starting in 2022, but benefits would not take effect until 2025. Employers would not have to pay into the program.
The Senate amendment requires premium rates to be set by the pension funding council to maintain actuarial solvency using insurance principles to reduce rate fluctuations. It also sets the maximum premium rate at 0.58 percent. The bill now goes back to the House for reconciliation of the different versions before final passage.
This bill is Governor Inslee’s sweeping proposal to move the state to what he and supporters of the bill say is a “clean-energy” economy. Under the bill, Washington’s electric utilities would have to eliminate all coal-fired energy sources by 2025 and meet 100 percent of its retail electric load using non-emitting and renewable resources by January 1, 2045.
The bill passed the state Senate on March 1st on a party-line 28-19 vote. Republican senators argued that Washington utilities already rely heavily on clean hydroelectric power and that the bill’s provisions would really only result in additional costs and rate increases to be borne by consumers. House Republicans offered similar arguments, along with more than a dozen amendments that were rejected by majority Democrats.
The bill now goes back to the Senate for approval of changes to the bill made in the House, before it is sent to the Governor for his signature.
Also proposed by Governor Inslee, this bill would create a subsidized state-funded public health plan. It would require the State Insurance Commissioner and the Health Care Authority to set up plans by 2021 with insurance companies that offer qualified plans in this state.
These plans would be available through the state’s health care exchange to all residents, but the state would pay subsidies to individuals with incomes of up to five times the poverty level. Premiums would be limited to no more than ten percent of adjusted gross income, and payments to doctors and other health care providers would be restricted to Medicare-level limits.
The bill passed the Senate last month by a 36-13 vote, after a House version of the proposal, HB 1523, passed the House on a 57-41 party-line vote. The final version of the bill was incorporated in SB 5526 and also passed by a party-line vote. Six members were excused when the vote was taken this week.
Changes to the bill made by the House will have to be approved by the Senate, before it goes to the Governor for his signature.
This is a bill to authorize more than $3.08 billion in general obligation bonds to help finance the proposed state capital budget that would provide for $5.26 billion in construction and infrastructure projects statewide for the 2019-21 biennium. The House unanimously passed a $4.4 billion capital budget (HB 1102) along with a $3.1 bond authorization bill (HB 1101) last week.
Notice to reconsider the vote by which HB 1101 failed in the Senate was given, meaning that members agreed to bring the bill back up to vote, so the bill is scheduled for a re-vote in the coming days.
This bill would exclude minors from felony crimes involving dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and creates a new class of crimes that apply exclusively to minors. It would limit the crime of a minor dealing in depictions of another minor thirteen years of age or older engaged in sexually explicit conduct to a gross misdemeanor. It also would exempt minors from being charged with a crime for depictions of themselves engaged in sexually explicit conduct unless they sell the depiction.
Supporters of the bill say that teenagers use smartphones every day and experience shows that many of them are using phones to send sexually explicit pictures of themselves. They say adults struggle to intervene because they know that any juvenile engaging in this conduct is guilty of a Class B sex offense under current law and would have to register as a sex offender. Juvenile conduct is very different from that of an adult and the statutory response needs to differentiate between the two.
Opponents of the bill as proposed say that while it is important to decriminalize possession because we want juveniles to report behavior and ask for help without getting in trouble, the bill is overly broad in exempting distribution of juvenile depictions of sexually explicit behavior from criminal prosecution. Proposed amendments to narrow such exemptions were rejected and the bill passed by a majority Democratic vote, with no Republican support.
The bill passed the House last month on a 57-39 vote, and it now goes back to the House to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill.
The bill would require owners and operators of oil refineries to require their contractors and subcontractors to use a skilled and trained workforce to perform onsite work. It defines a skilled and trained workers as registered apprentices or skilled journeypersons who meet certain apprenticeship graduation requirements.
Supporters of this bill say it is key to long term safety at these facilities. They say that after California passed a similar bill, there was an increase in safety. They also say that some contractors cut costs by hiring low-cost unskilled labor from other areas.
Opponents say these facilities are already safe and there is no data to support the bill. Contractors are already selected based on their safety record and are frequently audited. Their main concern, they say is that he bill will eliminate competition between the union and non-union contractors. They say it establishes a prevailing wage for the private sector for the first time, which may be preempted by federal law, adding that that discriminates against out of state workers who may be from federal apprenticeship programs but not state apprenticeship programs.
The bill passed the House last month on a 64-32 vote and now goes back to the House for reconciliation of amendments passed by the Senate.
This is the House version of the operating budget for the 2019-21biennium. It calls for $52.8 billion in spending, which is some $2 billion over the $50.6 billion in revenues projected by the latest state economic forecast. House Democrats propose to pay for this plan by imposing a new capital gains income tax and raising other taxes, including the business and occupation tax rate on service businesses, and higher taxes on residential real estate transactions. HB 2156, to impose a capital gains income tax on “extraordinary profits” from high value assets was scheduled for approval by the House Finance Committee today, but no action was taken.
HB 1109, as passed by the House, was sent to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The Committee replaced the bill with a striking amendment and passed the bill on to the floor for action by the full Senate.
The Senate replaced the bill as passed by the House with its own version of the 2019-21 operating budget. As now passed by the Senate, the bill calls for $52.2 billion in spending for the next two-year budget cycle. Like the House version, the Senate plan calls for additional taxes to pay for it, but it does not call for a capital gains income tax. Senate Democrats, however, are proposing a separate capital gains income tax bill, SB 5961, which is scheduled for a hearing April 8th.
Overall, the Senate budget proposal is the smallest of the plans considered by the legislature. It would spend about $750 million less than the House plan, and $2.5 billion less than the plan proposed by Governor Inslee last December.
The bill now goes back to the House for approval or rejection of the Senate amendments to the measure. Ultimately, legislative leaders will likely negotiate a final plan that could be passed by both chambers and approved by the Governor. If they don’t reach agreement in the remaining three weeks of this session, the Governor would likely call for a special session.
This bill would impose a number of stricter energy performance standards for commercial buildings by November 1. 2020. Among the requirements are establishment of a State Energy Performance Standard that maximizes greenhouse gas reductions and rules for electric vehicle infrastructure that require electric vehicle charging capability at all new buildings that provide on-site parking. Building owners would be subject to an administrative penalty for failing to submit documentation demonstrating compliance with the requirements of the standard. The penalty would not exceed $5,000 plus an amount based on the duration of any continuing violation. The bill would also mandate a new Natural Gas Conservation Standard that establishes a societal cost of greenhouse gas emissions for purposes of this standard.
The bill was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.
This bill, which was passed by the Senate last month on a 27-19 vote, deals with the confidentiality of insurance communications sent to patients. It would direct the Insurance Commissioner to develop a form for persons who are covered as dependents on an enrollee's health benefit plan to indicate where communications, such as bills and records of procedures, should be sent.
It would require health carriers to direct all communications containing information about a person, including personal health information and the receipt of sensitive health care services, directly to the person receiving the care. Under the bill, health carriers would be prohibited from requiring that dependents obtain the authorization of the primary subscriber before receiving health care services. The bill would further prohibit health carriers from requiring a policyholder to pay for charges if the services were not authorized by the policyholder and the person receiving the services instructed the health carrier to send information about the services to an address other than that of the policyholder.
The bill would make appropriations totaling $9.952 billion for state transportation agencies and programs for the 2019-21 fiscal biennium . Highway and infrastructure expenditures would total $5.3 billion, and operating-related appropriations would total nearly $4.7 billion. Some of the larger appropriations for the fiscal biennium would include: $3.1 billion for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Highway Improvements program; $1.7 billion for debt service; $777 million for the WSDOT Preservation program; and $540 million for the Washington State Patrol. Supplemental changes to the current 2017-2019 transportation budget that would be made by the bill include decreases of $520 million in appropriated funds.
The bill is now headed to the Senate for further consideration.
This measure would make a number of provisions mandated by the federal “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (ACA) part of state law. Under HB 1870, Washington insurance plans would have to offer policies that cover pre-existing conditions, provide a wide range of benefits, limit out-of-pocket expenses a covered person must pay, and eliminate lifetime limits on health care benefits paid by insurers, and other mandates under the ACA, often referred to as “Obamacare.”
In support of the bill, Senate Democrats said that it was a way to assure that Washingtonians would not lose medical coverage promised by the ACA, as Congress and the administration continue to argue over health care coverage alternatives. Republicans, on the other hand, said passing the bill would mean supporting a national health care system that is failing to deliver on its promises of better access and lower premiums.
The bill will now go back to the House to consider whether or not to accept the amendments passed by the Senate.
Under this bill, which has now passed both the House and Senate and is headed to the Governor for his signature, the minimum age for buying tobacco and vaping products in Washington will rise from 18 to 21 years beginning next year. Eight other states, including Oregon and California, and the US Territory of Guam have also raised the age to 21.
The bill enjoyed bi-partisan support, but Senate members on both sides of the vote expressed concern that the change in state law would not apply to Indian reservations, and those under 21 could still buy tobacco and vapor products in tribal shops there. Under current law, the Governor has the authority to enter into tribal cigarette tax contracts regarding the sale of cigarettes, and some Senators expressed the hope that tribal leaders would follow the state’s lead and raise the age from 18 to 21 for all tobacco and vaping products.
?The bill is headed to the Governor for his signature into law.
Proposed by Governor Inslee, this bill would create a subsidized state-funded public health plan. It would require the State Insurance Commissioner and the Health Care Authority to set up plans by 2021 with insurance companies that offer qualified plans in this state.
These plans would be available through the state’s health care exchange to all residents, but the state would pay subsidies to individuals with incomes of up to five times the poverty level. That annual income threshold level would currently be about $62,000 for an individual. Premiums would be limited to no more than ten percent of adjusted gross income, and payments to doctors and other health care providers would be restricted to Medicare-level limits. The bill was referred to the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee for further consideration.
This is the companion bill to HB 1523, with essentially the same provisions. The bill was sent to the House Health Care and Wellness Committee for further consideration. It is likely that the two bills will be at some point combined and a single version would then be considered for final passage.
This bill would set up a work group to design a government-run, “socialized” health care system available to all residents. If approved by the House and signed by the governor, the group would draft an outline for such a system by Nov.15, 2019 and reveal full recommendations for the plan a year later. During lengthy debate on the floor, Republican senators offered a number of amendments, including a provision that the work group’s recommendations include preservation of the private insurance market. The amendments failed and the bill passed 28-21 with all Republicans and Democratic Sen. Sheldon, who regularly votes with Republicans, voting against it.
The bill was referred to the House Health Care and Wellness Committee for further consideration.
This bill would direct the state Department of Ecology to impose low-carbon fuel limits on gasoline and other transportation related fuels with a “clean fuels” program. Under the bill, carbon emissions of transportation fuels would have to be reduced to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035. The mandatory program would begin Jan. 1, 2021.
During floor debate, opponents argued that the bill would harm Washington residents by raising gas prices, which are already among the highest in the nation, and raising other costs, including food prices. A Republican amendment to allow a public vote at the next general election was defeated, and the bill passed along party lines by a 53-43 vote. Bi-partisan opposition to the bill included all Republicans and three Democrats.
The bill was referred to the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee for further consideration
This bill would bar public employees from seeking refunds of fees they were wrongly forced to pay to government unions. In the ”Janus” case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to require public employees who are not members to pay fees to the union. The court ruled an employee's clear consent is required before dues may be deducted from the employee's pay. Since that ruling in 2018, public employees across the country have instituted class action lawsuits to recover the past fees they have paid. This bill says workers cannot get their money back by providing that public employers and public employee unions are not required to return
union fees that were deducted prior to the Court’s ruling. The bill was referred to the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee for further consideration.
This is a proposed amendment the Washington State Constitution to lower the standard for passing school bond measures. It would allow school districts to issue general obligation bonds for capital purposes, levy taxes to make payments on those bonds, and exceed the constitutional debt limit with a simple majority voter approval, instead of the two-thirds vote currently required under the state constitution. The measure failed, because it did not garner the two-thirds vote required to pass constitutional amendments.
SJR 8201 did not survive the cut-off deadline and is now considered dead for the session.
This bill would require that presidential and vice-presidential candidates release copies of their federal income tax returns for the last five years to appear on the state presidential primary ballot. If approved by the House and signed by the governor, SB 5078 would apply to the March 2020 presidential primary, the first election to be held under the new law signed by Governor Inslee this week, which moves up the date of the Washington’s presidential primary from May to March.
The bill was referred to the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee for further consideration.
Under current law a child is prohibited from attending a school or licensed day care center unless one of the following is presented prior to the child's first day: (1) proof of full immunization; (2) proof of the initiation and compliance with a schedule of immunization; or (3) a certificate of exemption. This bill would remove the philosophical or personal objection exemption for the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine currently allowed. It clarifies that a child may be exempt from mandatory vaccine requirements if he or she has a parent or sibling with a history of immune system problems or an adverse reaction to a particular vaccine. It also requires employees and volunteers at child day care centers to receive the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, provide proof of immunity from the measles, or provide a certification that the vaccine is not medically advisable.
The bill was sent to the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee for further consideration.
This bill would move the date of the state’s presidential primary election from late May to the second Tuesday in March. If signed into law, this would mean that Washington’s next presidential primary election would be held on the same day as those in Idaho, Ohio and Michigan and one week after “Super Tuesday,” when there are primaries in nine states including California, Texas, Massachusetts, Alabama and Virginia. Under the bill, which the Senate approved earlier this session on a mostly party-line vote of 29-18, state voters would have to declare whether they are a member of the Republican or Democratic party to participate in the election. Unlike in past presidential primaries, voters would not have the option of casting an “unaffiliated” ballot.
The bill is now headed to the Governor for his signature.
This bill would impose California’s automobile emission rules on vehicle owners in Washington. Under the bill, car makers would be assigned credits based on the kind of fuel efficient cars they bring into the state. Those credits would then be used to set quotas for how many zero-emission vehicles manufacturers must ship into the state and for dealers to offer for sale, regardless of whether consumers want them or not. The stated goal of the bill is to have about 2.5 percent of all cars brought into Washington be the equivalent of zero-emission vehicles.
The bill is now before the House Environment and Energy Committee for further consideration.
If enacted into law, this bill would ban stores from giving single-use plastic carryout bags to their customers. The ban includes paper and recycled plastic bags unless they meet stringent recycled content requirements. Under the bill, retailers would also be required to collect an 8-cent per bag tax for each recycled content large paper or plastic carryout bag provided. These provisions would supersede local bag ordinances, except for ordinances establishing a 10-cent per bag charge in effect as of January 1, 2019.
Passage of SB 5323 by the Senate is the furthest statewide bag-ban proposals have advanced in the legislative process, since the idea of regulating and taxing shopping bags were first proposed in 2013.
The bill was sent to the House Environment and Energy Committee for further consideration.
Earlier this session, the House and Senate passed House Concurrent Resolution 4401 to establish code of conduct for members and staff of the Legislature. This bill would extend the provisions of that code to lobbyists as members of the “legislative community.” Specially, the bill would require the Pubic Disclosure Commission (PDC) to develop a training course based on the legislative code of conduct. Lobbyist registration forms would have to provide a place to attest that the applicant has completed the PDC training course on the legislative code of conduct. The bill would provide further that, if either chamber makes a credible finding that a lobbyist has violated the legislative code of conduct, the PDC must notify the lobbyist's employers of the violation.
The bill was sent to the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee for further consideration.
Under this bill, Washington’s electric utilities would have to eliminate all coal-fired energy sources by 2025 and meet 100 percent of its retail electric load using non-emitting and renewable resources by January 1, 2045.
?In support of the bill, Democrats said the state has an entrepreneurial economy that can move toward a clean energy economy. Solar and wind are the future, and this bill provides a common sense framework for bold actions toward a carbon-free electricity, they said.
Republican senators offered nearly two dozen amendments to the bill, pointing out that Washington utilities already rely heavily on clean hydroelectric power and that the bill’s provisions would really only result in additional costs and rate increases to be borne by consumers. Most of the amendments failed, and the bill passed along strictly partisan lines, with one Republican and one Democrat member excused.
The bill was sent to the House Committee on Environment and Energy, which has scheduled a public hearing for March 5th.
This is an all-grades sex education proposal that would require schools to provide comprehensive sexual health education as an integral part of the curriculum. The curriculum would be “evidence-based and inclusive,” and would encourage healthy relationships based on mutual respect and affection, free from violence, coercion, and intimidation. It would also teach how to identify and respond to attitudes and behaviors contributing to sexual violence and emphasize the importance of affirmative consent.
Supporters of the bill said in order for young people to make “good choices,” they need help understanding the ramifications of their choices. They said comprehensive sexual health education provides this information and is essential to students' health, relationships, and meeting their life goals.
Opponents said the decision to offer this type of education should lie with school boards and ultimately parents. Republicans opposed to the measure proposed more than a dozen amendments including proposals to block the classes from being taught to the youngest students. The amendments failed and the bill passed with a partisan 28-21 vote. Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-Mason County), who has joined Republicans in the past, was the only Democrat to vote agains the bill.
The bill was sent to the House Education Committee for further cosideration.
Current law requires each school district to have a policy and procedures that prohibits harassment, intimidation, or bullying (HIB). School districts must designate a primary contact regarding the policy with certain responsibilities. Under this bill, school districts would have to adopt or amend such policies to specifically include transgender students. They would also have to designate a primary contact to oversee transgender policies and procedures.
Debate on the bill went back and forth between Democrats, who said it was needed to protect certain students. Republicans called it state government interference in local school districts’ decisions and pointed out that rules against bullying already exist. They said the legislature should not keep adding new groups of protected students.
The bill passed along 29-20 along close party lines, with one Democrat against, and one Republican in favor. It was sent to the House Education Committee for further consideration.
This bill provides that a person who sells cigars, cigarettes, cigarette paper, tobacco, or vapor products to a person under the age of 21 would be guilty of a gross misdemeanor. In testimony during public hearings, supporters of the bill said that raising the legal age to 21 is the single most important policy to impact the health of youth. Opponents said this bill will be ineffective because of the many unregulated tribal stores and military bases in Washington. All the bill would do is push tobacco and vaping sales to the black market, and convenience stores would suffer due to lost sales, they said.
?The bill was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.
This bill would require that any electioneering communication or independent expenditure sponsored by a political committee must list the top five individuals or entities other than political committees which contributed at least $700 in aggregate to the sponsor during the 12 months before the advertisement is distributed.
Proponents of the bill during committee hearings on the bill said that this would fix a loophole that obscures who actually pays for campaign mailers, which leads to more negative campaigning because advertising sponsors do not have to disclose who paid for the advertising, they said.
Opponents said they have concerns about the mechanics of this bill, because it could lead to unintended consequences and less transparency. They said a better way would be to identify a threshold when a donor takes a certain amount of money from a single source to require disclosure.
The bill was referred to the House State Government, Tribal Relations, and Elections Committee for further consideration.
This bill would remove the current requirement that a petitioner must allege reasonable fear of future dangerous acts when seeking a sexual assault protection order. Under existing law, sexual assault protection order petition must allege the existence of nonconsensual sexual conduct and must be accompanied by an affidavit stating the specific statements or actions which give rise to a reasonable fear of future dangerous acts. In a court case, the state supreme court interpreted this provision as requiring that a petitioner must allege and prove both that a sexual assault occurred and that the petitioner has a reasonable fear of future dangerous acts by the respondent. Supporters of the bill say that any victims of sexual violence are silenced by the legal requirement of alleging and proving statements and other acts that give rise to a reasonable fear of future dangerous acts.
The bill was sent to the Senate Law and Justice Committee for further consideration.
This bill would establish the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Program to provide persons who have paid into this program for a specific amount of time and who have been assessed as needing assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, medication administration, personal hygiene, or other health-related tasks. Beginning January 1, 2022 employees in Washington who are working at least 10 percent of full-time employment status would be assessed a premium of 0.58 percent of their wages to fund this program.
The bill is headed to the Senate for further consideration.
This bill provides that the death penalty would be eliminated, and all statutory procedures for imposing and carrying out a sentence of death would be repealed. It would impose a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of release or parole on a person convicted of aggravated first degree murder.
Washington has had capital punishment of some form since the state’s territorial days. The current death sentence law was enacted in 1981, but Governor Inslee issued a moratorium on the execution of death sentences in 2014. The Washington Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that the way the death sentence was being carried out in the state is unconstitutional, but found that the death penalty as such is not unconstitutional. It left open the possibility that the Legislature could enact a carefully drafted law that would meet constitutional requirements. Instead, SB 5339 would eliminate the death penalty altogether. The bill is now headed to the House for further consideration.
This bill would prohibit the use of hydraulic fracturing, a process that injects water into the ground under pressure to explore for oil and natural gas, commonly known as “fracking.” The proposed ban is meaningless since there is currently no oil and gas exploration in Washington. Still, Senate Republicans noted that fracking is effective and safe, and could be an energy-producing option in Eastern Washington areas. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, and Natural Resources.
National data shows that only 26 percent of citizens have an advance health care directive concerning their wishes for treatment. There are many people in hospitals who have not been able to prepare advance direction, and there are not enough people authorized by law to help make decisions for patients when a patient is incapacitated.
This bill would expand the list of individuals who can give informed consent for treatment to include an unrelated adult who has exhibited care and concern for the patient; is familiar
with the wishes and values of the patient; and is reasonably available to make health care decisions. The bill also includes procedural safeguards such as a requirement for a nonrelative to sign a declaration that there is a connection to the person.
The bill is headed for the Senate for further consideration.
This bill would prohibit a collection agency from serving a debtor with a summons and complaint unless the summons and complaint have been filed with a Washington Superior Court and bear the case number assigned by the court.
In testimony during committee hearings, supporters of the bill said requiring collection agencies to file the complaint before serving the defendant adds certainty and transparency to debt collection lawsuits. They said debtors are often confused when they receive a summons and complaint which contain no filing number from the court. Debtors who then do their due diligence and call the court to ask about the case are told there has been none filed and often disregard the service of process.
Opponents of the bill said collection agencies provide an important service to businesses owed money, and singling them out in this bill shines a bad light on them. They said many debtors served with a summons and unfiled complaint fail to respond not because they are confused, but because they do not dispute the debt.
The bill is now headed to the Senate for further consideration.
This has been called the “Human Composting” bill, because it would include natural organic reduction as an allowable means of disposing of human remains. Natural organic reduction is the contained, accelerated conversion of human remains to soil, i.e. composting. Washington would be the first state in the country to allow composting of human remains.
The bill would also legalize alkaline hydrolysis, which uses water, heat, and chemicals to produce a result that is similar to cremation without fire.
SB 5001 was sent to the House, where similar legislation (HB 1162) is pending.
This bill would provide that an employee of the federal government is considered unemployed in any week the individual is not receiving wages due to a government shutdown. This would make the employee eligible for state unemployment payments regardless of whether the individual is performing any services for federal government at any time during the week. These provisions would apply retroactively to December 22, 2018.
The bill is now before the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee.
This bill would expand voter services on tribal lands in Washington. It would require county election officials to provide at least one ballot drop box on any Native American reservation, if requested by a tribe. It would also allow tribal members to use tribal identification cards and non-traditional addresses to register to vote. Non-traditional addresses could include a verbal description of a voter’s residence.
The bill was sent to the House State Government, Tribal Relations, and Elections Committee.
This bill clarifies that the presumption established for certain cancers as an occupational disease would apply to an active or former U. S. Department of Energy Hanford site worker, even when he or she was not given a qualifying medical examination. This would assure the worker is eligible for workmen’s compensation under state industrial insurance laws.
The bill is headed to the Senate for further consideration.
This bill would require that persons operating a motorcycle must meet the insurance or equivalent requirements for registered motor vehicles under current law. During hearings on the bill some people expressed concerns about the impact to motorcyclists who have never had insurance. They said it may be more difficult for younger or newer riders to obtain an insurance policy. They also pointed out that some of these riders are using a motorcycle as inexpensive transportation, and requiring insurance may create a financial hardship. New riders should be phased in to the insurance market, they said.
The bill is headed to the Senate for further consideration.
HB 1064 would modify the provisions of Initiative 940 relating to de-escalation training for police, investigations of deadly force incidents, and rendering of first aid. It would also require the state to reimburse a peace officer for reasonable defense costs when the officer is found not guilty or charges are dismissed in certain circumstances
These modifications to Initiative 940, which was passed by voters in November, were included in a bill last session after agreement among law enforcement and community leaders, but the state Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional and ordered that the original measure be placed before voters.
Washington state law provides that an initiative that was approved by voters can only be amended or repealed for two years by a two-thirds supermajority vote in both chambers. HB 1064 has met that requirement with unanimous passage in the House and Senate.
The bill was delivered to the Governor for his signature.
SB 5273 would move up Washington’s presidential primary election date from the fourth Tuesday in May to the second Tuesday in March, which in coordination with other states would create a so-called “Super Tuesday” on the West Coast. Supporters, like Secretary of State Kim Wyman who has long advocated for it, say this change would make voter participation in the presidential nomination process more meaningful.
Washington has both a presidential primary and a caucus system. In 2016, Republicans used the primary to allocate delegates, but the votes cast were too late to effectively count on the national level. State Democrats ignored the primary results, instead picking delegates for its national convention earlier in the year through a caucus system that requires voters to show up in person at local meetings to vote for their preferred candidate. Historically, the number of voters in these caucuses is a fraction of that generated by the primary election in which voters simply cast a ballot.
Under SB 5273, each party would decide which candidates’ names are placed on the ballot, and
voters, as they do now, must continue to declare their party affiliation when voting in the presidential primary. A floor amendment by Sen. Hans Zeiger (R-Puyallup) to allow unaffiliated voters to participate in the primary was defeated. (See roll call below.)
The bill is now before the House for further consideration
Under current law, and under SB 5273, voters must declare a party affiliation on the presidential primary ballot and can only vote for candidates of that party. The amendment would have allowed voters to choose not to declare a party affiliation and vote for any candidate of their choice.
This measure sets forth a code of behavior for legislators, staff, lobbyists and members of the state capital community in general, requiring that they must:
(1) Conduct themselves with self-awareness, self-respect, and professionalism;
(2)Treat all others with respect, dignity, and civility, regardless of status or position; and
(3)Refrain from engaging in hostile, intimidating, offensive, or unlawful activities or behaviors that may amount to discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, or bullying.
HCR 4401 is now before the Senate for further consideration.
HB 1064 would modify the provisions of 2018’s Initiative 940 relating to deescalation training for police, investigations of deadly force incidents, and rendering of first aid. It would also require the state to reimburse a peace officer for reasonable defense costs when he or she is found not guilty or charges are dismissed in certain circumstances
These modifications to Initiative 940 were included in a bill last session after agreement among law enforcement and community leaders, but the state Supreme Court last summer ruled it unconstitutional and ordered that the original measure be placed before voters.
Washington state law provides that an initiative that was approved by voters can only be amended or repealed for two years by a two-thirds supermajority vote in both chambers. HB 1064 has met that requirement so far with its unanimous passage in the House.
The bill is now before the Senate for further consideration.
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