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Legislative Week in Review

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Monday Jan. 17th

The House of Representatives started the morning with a floor session to discuss House Resolution 4635, which commemorates Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The resolution recognizes the life and legacy of Dr. King, and urges citizens to follow his vision of community and justice. The House unanimously adopted the resolution.

The Senate also recognized their own version of Dr. King’s remembrance in Senate Resolution 8634. Words of admiration were shared on the floor, by Representatives who shared the same hope for the House to carry his vision.

The Senate Law and Justice Committee held a public hearing on Senate Bill 5568, which aims to allow local governments to restrict the open carry of weapons at government-owned buildings. The bill extends to public health facilities, schools, and places that have special restriction areas prohibiting the presence of minors. Violations would lead to a gross misdemeanor charge.

  • Senator Patty Kuderer spoke on the motivation behind the bill, which is to avoid the threat of intimidation at public meetings. Speakers in support of the bill emphasized the endangerment that open carry of weapons at these events may cause.
  • The National Rifle Association spoke in opposition to the bill, whose primary concern is how this bill overrules citizens’ constitutional rights and the complexity of changing current gun control standards.

The Senate Law and Justice Committee held a public hearing on Senate Bill 5217, which aims to ban the sale, purchase, manufacturing, transfer, and distribution of assault weapons.

  • Speaking in favor of the bill, Senator Patty Kuderer said that the semi-automatic AR-15 style was previously banned as an assault weapon before 2004 under federal law. In her testimony, she also cited reports claiming that when mass shooting occurs with an assault weapon, 6 times as many deaths occur. The supporters of this bill hope to prevent a mass casualty event in the state of Washington.
  • The proposed legislation will not affect military or law enforcement, nor those weapons that have been passed down by inheritance.
  • The bill received the support of the State Attorney General’s Office, citing that when an assault weapon is used in a mass casualty event, 65% more people are killed and 140% more people are wounded than any other type of weapon, while being 5 times less likely to be used for self defense.
  • Those that oppose the bill stress the defense ability and safety for women and marginalized groups who typically use these types of firearms.
  • Local gun manufacturing company, “Aero Precision”, testified to oppose the bill–citing an economic loss to their company, and the city of Lakewood. They claimed to have invested $25 million in their company’s tentative improvements and infrastructure, and that if the bill becomes law, it will derail their goal of being one of the largest employers in Lakewood.
  • The Senate also heard from Jim Parsons, who also expressed support for the bill. Parsons lost a child in a mass shooting event, and demands lawmakers take action to fight to protect schools and communities.

The House Consumer Protection and Business Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 1615, which aims to prohibit the sale of new cosmetic products tested on animals by 2023.

  • Rep. Amy Walen, who sponsored the bill, said it was modeled after the federal Humane Cosmetics Act.
  • The Animal Rights Initiative and Washington’s Humane Society Division also expressed support for the bill.
  • No opposition was heard.

Tuesday Jan. 18th

The House Public Safety Committee held a public hearing to discuss House Bill 1788, which seeks to expand the limitation of permitting law enforcement officers to engage in vehicular pursuit.

  • Under the bill, peace officers will be allowed to engage in vehicular pursuit when there is: reasonable suspicion of the crime, and when failing to apprehend the suspect is proportionately more dangerous than the engagement of vehicular pursuit. Approval to engage in the chase must be made by a supervising officer.
  • Supporters feel this bill will allow police officers to do their job effectively, while allowing flexibility of a case-by-case basis in which vehicular pursuit is allowed, and minimizing evasion of arrest.
  • The bill received opposition from those who claimed that minorities, who may be subject to racial discrimination, and are disproportionately flagged for low-level traffic stops, will be subject to more racial violence.

The Senate Housing and Local Government Committee held a public hearing to discuss Senate Bill 5670, which aims to create more middle housing units near transit stops and areas typically populated by single family detached homes. This involves the development of multi-family housing on lots zoned for single family use.

  • The American Farmland Trust and Habitat for Humanity said it will benefit agricultural areas and give more types of housing options to the public that are much needed.
  • City Planner Eliott Barnett said the language of the bill and its possible repercussions need to be evaluated more closely.

The House Rural Development, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 1895, which aims to require the state’s Department of Natural Resources to develop a plan to conserve and restore Washington’s forests.

  • The bill aims to conserve 1 million acres of forest land and reforest an additional 1 million acres by 2040, while incentivizing small landowners to sustain their forests.
  • Supporters of the bill stress the importance of natural resources within the forest and the fight for climate change.
  • Individuals who testified against HB1895 said it’s not sufficient enough to protect the climate and conserve forests, as it neglects the natural carbon sequestration capabilities of legacy forests, and that harvesting more ecologically valuable trees to make room for 1 million saplings is detrimental.

The House Transportation Committee held a public hearing to discuss House Bill 1655, concerning the reopening of highway rest areas.

  • The bill aims to address WSDOT’s long-time rest area closures that were caused by looting, vandalism, illegal dumping, and abuse of restroom facilities during the pandemic. This caused a staffing issue for the agency, and left truck drivers unable to take their mandated rest breaks, which in turn affected supply chains.
  • HB 1655 adjusts WSDOT’s maintenance operations to be able to re-open the rest stops, which will require extensive sanitation and chemical cleaning, as well as structural repairs. The bill also proposes the agency to allow third-party service providers and short term contracts for cleaning, security, and maintenance services when they are short staffed.
  • Supporters of the bill said it will help the supply chain recover, and will benefit truck drivers who have been greatly affected by the long-term closures.
  • Those opposed to the bill shared concerns about a lack of flexibility in its language, and suggested to amend it.

Wednesday Jan. 19th

The Senate State Government and Elections Committee held a public hearing to discuss Senate Bill 5560, which aims for transparency in the state’s redistricting process. The bill aims to require the Redistricting Commission to make plans available to the public for three days before the voting period, and requires that amendments be publicly debated and voted on in an open session. The commission’s final plan must also show congressional and legislative maps with descriptions of each.

  • Last year, the state’s Redistricting Commission failed to meet the deadline to redraw congressional and legislative maps and received accusations of violating the state’s Open Public Meeting Act.
  • Senator Jamie Pedersen cites this event, and says the Redistricting Commission talked about and voted on an agreement that no one had seen, and this bill would lead to a more transparent process.

The House Rural Development and Natural Resources Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 1838, concerning the Lorraine Loomis Act, which aims to recover salmon by protecting and maintaining their habitat.

  • Requested by Gov. Inslee, the act includes a requirement for landowners that are in the Riparian Management Zone (RMZ); where land meets water, streams, or rivers, to maintain and protect that zone.
  • The bill requires WDFW to create a fish and wildlife map for rivers and streams that contain salmon and steelhead, and to supply a grant to restore RMZ zones.
  • Those opposed to the bill said it will cost the agriculture community too much expense and labor and will result in farms shutting down.
  • Supporters of HB1838 said all agencies should work together to find, identify, and fund programs that will equal the cost of salmon recovery.

The House of Representatives held a public hearing on Washington’s Long Term Care Program.

  • According to the State Department of Social and Health Services, 7/10 Washingtonians are expected to need long-term care in their lifetime, which usually requires that they spend most of their life’s savings to afford it. The Washington Care’s Act was a response to this need, in using a fraction of taxpayers earnings towards the overall long-term care of citizens: 58 cents for every $100 earned.
  • The House of Representatives proposed a delay in this collection until July, 2023.
  • Supporters say the delay is needed to amend the bill, to avoid running out of funds by 2075, and address the concerns of over 4 times the amount of “opt-outs” than anticipated.
  • The delay was approved, and the bill headed to the Washington State Senate.
  • The Long-Term Care tax (LTC) was enacted to be imposed this month, but Governor Jay Inslee directed the Employment Security Department to put a tentative hold on collecting premiums until April of this year, or until further notice is released.

Thursday, Jan. 20th

The House Health Care and Wellness Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 1851, which expands access to abortion care.

  • The bill aims to authorize physician assistants, advanced registered nurse practitioners, and other licensed health care providers to perform abortions within their scope of practice. It also protects those who are assisting pregnant individuals from being penalized or prosecuted.
  • The Washington State Attorney General testified in support of the bill, saying its gender-inclusivity provision will expand protections for more individuals.
  • The bill received opposition from those who believe it would lower the standard of care needed by pregnant individuals.

The Senate Environment, Energy, and Technology Committee held a public hearing on Senate Bill 5813, which aims to protect a minor’s consumer data privacy and reinforces their ability to access and manage their own personal data.

  • The act would also require data brokers to register with the state and comply with a consumer’s rights to access, delete, or correct their data—or opt out from targeted acts. This would also allow consumers to deny the sale of their personal data.
  • Supporters said that youth data needs to be treated as sensitive data, and needs the grace of a removal option.
  • Those opposed to the bill said it is not a strong enough data privacy act, and needs to be amended in language and enforcement.

Friday, Jan. 21st

The Senate Human Services, Reentry and Rehabilitation Committee convened for a public hearing on Senate Bill 5824, which aims to give dependent youth of 14+ years of age (including those in foster care), access to their own bank account.

  • This bill would direct the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) to develop a program that enables eligible youth to have a self-controlled bank account where DCYF will deposit at least $25 a month.
  • Accounts are permitted to be opened with the help of any supportive adult, such as care providers, caseworkers, family members, etc.
  • Supporters of the bill highlighted the importance for dependent youth to be allowed the opportunity to manage personal money, and will help them develop financial literacy at a young age.
  • No opposition was heard.

The committee also discussed Senate Bill 5838, also known as the “Diaper Need Act” which provides a monthly diaper subsidy to parents and caregivers who receive temporary assistance. This applies to families with children under 3 years of age.

  • Supporters of the bill said that diapers are a basic care item for families in need, where there is no current public assistance.
  • No opposition was heard.

Legislative Review airs nightly at 8 and 11 with daily updates on the state’s legislative activity. Legislative Week in Review airs every Friday at 8 and 11, and over the weekend. It recaps the week’s highlights in the state legislature. To watch full-length coverage of all the hearings broadcast on TVW, log on to tvw.org.

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