March 12, 2021
The ninth week of the 2021 legislative session was a mix of committee hearings and floor debates.
The Senate convened for floor action on Saturday, March 6th and debated Senate Bill 5096, an act that establishes a ‘capital gains tax’ in Washington state. If passed, the bill would impose a 7 percent tax on capital gains such as stocks and bonds worth over $250,000 beginning next year.
In another lengthy House debate that started Saturday, ended Sunday, and included the consideration of more than two dozen proposed amendments, representatives approved a contentious bill defining when and how landlords can evict residential tenants. With the eviction moratorium expiring at the end of the month, House Bill 1236 aims to reform the eviction process by requiring landlords to provide a valid or “just cause” reason for ending their tenants’ lease.
From the Senate, we also covered some floor debate on legislation concerning electric bikes on March 8th. The senate approved the bill, which asks the state government to hear from the public on whether electric bikes or “e bikes” should be allowed on outdoor trails.
State representatives convened once again on Tuesday, March 9th, to debate the passage of several bills. among them, was House Bill 1213–an act that aims to expand access to affordable childcare and early childhood development programs. Also known as the ‘fair start for kids act’, the bill proposes to decrease co-payments that low income families must pay for child care, via the Working Connections Child Care Program.
Another bill heard on the House floor on March 9th, was House Bill 1168, which relates to long-term forest health and the reduction of wildfires.
On Wednesday, March 10th, the Senate Environment Energy and Technology Committee convened for a public hearing on House Bill 1091, an act relating to the Clean Fuels Program. Requested by Governor Jay Inslee, the program limits the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels by establishing a low-carbon fuel requirement in the state. The goal is to lower these emissions by 2028 to 10% below the state’s 2017 levels; and below 20% by 2035.
March 10th marked the end of two weeks of intense floor debate in house and senate, and the approximate halfway point in the 2021 legislative session. Democratic and Republican leaders both held press conferences to comment on the session, so far.
The Senate Housing & Local Government committee convened Thursday, March 11th, for a public hearing on several bills. One of them, was House Bill 1236, a landlord-tenant proposal that restricts evictions and has sparked lengthy, intense debate in the House of Representatives.
Also known as the “Just Cause Eviction” bill, it was passed in the House of Representatives over the past weekend with a 54-44 vote, mostly along party lines, after over two dozen proposed amendments were debated for hours on the floor. On Thursday, it was the Senate’s turn to consider it.
The Senate Law and Justice Committee also held a public hearing on House Bill 1054 on March 11th. The proposal concerned police accountability, and the tactics and equipment used by peace officers during arrests. It prohibits police from performing arrests that involve neck restraints or chokeholds, off-leash dogs, tear gas, and military equipment. it also prohibits no-knock warrants and shooting during hot pursuits.
On Friday, March 12th, the House Public Safety committee held a public hearing on several bills, one of which was Senate Bill 5054–an act that extends the look-back period of an individual’s history of prior impaired driving offenses to determine if they should be charged with a felony. The bill aims to elevate an impaired driving offense, which is considered a gross misdemeanor under current law, into a felony, if the individual has had three or more impaired driving offenses in the past 15 years, rather than 10 years.
Keep watching Legislative Review for highlights of both committee and floor action in the legislature. To watch the full coverage of all the hearings in this week’s episodes, log on to twv.org.