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Legislative Week in Review

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Monday Jan. 10

  • The Senate and House of Representatives held noon opening ceremonies to kick off the 2022 legislative session
  • The House State Government and Tribal Relations held a public hearing on HB 1617 aligning state holidays and school holidays.

Specific emphasis on recognizing Juneteenth (day of freedom from slavery), in school districts.

  • The House Appropriations Committee held a public hearing on Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed $62 billion supplemental state operating budget focused on homelessness, salmon recovery, and climate change,
  • $815M – Homelessness
  • $249M Poverty
  • $746M Educational Gaps
  • <$1B K-12 Education
  • $173.2M Covid-19
  • <$2M Covid Vaccine Access
  • $187M Salmon Recovery
  • $626M Climate Change
  • $27M Ferries

Tuesday Jan. 11

  • The House Public Safety Committee held a public hearing discussing HB 1719, which allows the use and purchase of military equipment by law enforcement. Last year, the state prohibited the use and sale of firearms or ammunition of at least .50 caliber, machine guns, armed vessels, tanks, grenades, etc. This bill limits the prohibition to apply to only rifles of .50 caliber or greater.

Rep. Dan Bronoske hopes for this to encourage police to use less than lethal methods while still maintaining their ability to carry out their duties.

  • The House Public Safety Committee held a public hearing on HB 1735, which allows necessary force to take a person into custody after de-escalation measures have been attempted.

It was debated if the language in the bill is sufficient enough to provide the proper safety for communities.

  • The House Civil Right and Judicial Committee held a public hearing on HB 1202, which enables anyone injured by police misconduct to pursue a civil case in court and be awarded damages, plus accrued attorney fees.

Police misconduct would include:

  • Assault and battery
  • False Arrest/Imprisonment
  • Unlawful Traffic Stop, Search/Seizure, or Home Entry
  • Abuse of Physical Force
  • Violations of Federal Immigration Enforcement

Opinions were mixed–the bill was supported by the Washington Coalition of Police Accountability, and opposed by the Washington State Association of Counties.

  • At noon, Governor Jay Inslee gave his State of the State Address.

Topics included:

  • Increasing access to Covid-19 testing, and vaccinations.
  • Closing the learning gap that occurred during the pandemic, and increasing counselors, social workers, etc. to support students through the pandemic
  • Creating safe housing options for people suffering from homelessness
  • Climate Commitment Act, hoping for zero emissions by 2050 through clean energy projects.
  • Preserving salmon runs
  • Electrifying ferries
  • Refilling the rainy day fund
  • As a response to Gov. Inslee’s address, Republican senator Chris Gildon released the Republican caucus’ statement, which called for an end to Gov. Inslee’s use of emergency powers and to modify policing laws. He also discouraged legislative efforts to legalize hard drugs and create new taxes for Washingtonians. He proposed more tax exemptions for working families, and eliminating taxes on property, capital gains, and B&O, while opposing Washington’s Long-Term Care Act.

Wednesday Jan. 12th

  • The Senate Ways and Means Committee held a public hearing on Governor Inslee’s proposed budget. It received support from some members of the education sector and the State Department of Agriculture, while non-profit organizations voiced their concerns about it, urging the legislation to re-consider some areas of funding.
  • The House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on HB 1618

The bill aims to prohibit weapons at election offices with exceptions to law enforcement and security personnel

Republican Rep. Jim Walsh claimed conflict with the U.S. Constitution, while Rep. April Berg assured him that in current law, there are certain places where ballots are counted that firearms are already restricted, and extending the same to areas concerning state elections would be a similar weapon free zone.

  • The House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on HB 1630, which restricts the open carry of weapons where local government or school districts hold public meetings or hearings

Democratic Rep. Tana Senn and Olympia City councilmember Cheryl Selby supported the bill.

The Washington State Civil Rights Association opposed it, citing that studies show that gun-free zones do not impact the amount of mass shootings in any way and question how helpful this bill could be.

  • The Washington State Senate held a public hearing on SB 5148, which passed with bipartisan support.

The bill aims to protect election officials against harassment.

As defined in the bill, harassment occurs when there is a threat to cause bodily or property harm to any employee of the secretary of state’s office or auditor’s office.

Thursday Jan. 13th

  • The Senate Law and Justice Committee held a public hearing on SB 5573, which aims to create an impaired DOSA (Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative) for DUI offenders.

DOSA currently, either reduces or eliminates time in prison, in exchange for monitoring and treatment; but currently excludes felony DUI offenders.

This bill aims to make first-time felony DUI offenders eligible for DOSA, as long as they are not convicted with a previous vehicular homicide or vehicular assault charge.

  • The Senate Law and Justice Committee held a public hearing on SB 5628 on cyber harassment and cyber stalking.

The bill seeks to redefine cyberstalking as a separate crime of cyber harassment.

Cyber harassment involves an intent to harass or intimidate while cyberstalking includes tracking the victim without consent, knowledge that this would cause reasonable fear, has already been notified by the victim of unwanted interaction, and if the action violates a protective order.

The penalty for cyber stalking will rise from a gross misdemeanor to a class ‘C’ felony if the offender has a previous conviction for the same crime, if they are armed while stalking, or if it is directed at any law enforcement employee.

The bill also raises the crime of harassing law enforcement from a gross misdemeanor to a Class C Felony.

  • The House Public Safety Committee held a hearing on HB 1756, concerning solitary confinement.

This bill restricts solitary confinement unless it is for emergency purposes, medical isolation, facility lockdown, or if specifically requested by those incarcerated.

Supporters of the bill suggested alternative solutions that support mental health in place of solitary confinement.

The bill received support from the state’s Department of Corrections.

  • The House Transportation Committee met on January 13th to discuss HB 1595, or, “Zack’s Bill”.

The bill was created after a petition for the loss of Centralia’s Zack Rager, who drowned in the Chehalis River after jumping off a bridge into 42-degree waters.

This bill aims to create informational signs where sport-bridge-jumping is possible, to educate the public on the dangers of cold water shock that can occur even on the warmest days.

Testimony was heard from the family in support of the bill.

The bill would also require Washington State Parks to install a memorial sign in memory of Zack Rager before 2023.

Friday, Jan. 14th

  • The House Community and Economic Development Committee held a public hearing on HB 1707, which mandates the use of life jackets on kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards with some exceptions.

Exceptions include: a squirt boat, when being directly supervised by a coach or instructor, if a federally approved paddleboard leash is worn, participating in yoga, and if they’re a member of a federally recognized tribe.

The bill received support from Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and some recreational organizations, and also received recommendations from another recreational group that suggested modifying its language.

Legislative Review airs nightly at 8 and 11 on statewide cable television and on tvw.org.