On this special one-hour edition of “Legislative Year in Review,” we recap the highlights from the 2014 session — from opening day to Sine Die. The show includes debate over issues such as the Dream Act, minimum wage, gun control, abortion insurance bill, death penalty, mental health, teacher evaluations, taxing e-cigarettes and the supplemental budget. Plus, a quick wrap-up of several of the bills that passed this year. Watch the show below:
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When Sean Green of Spokane became Washington’s first licensee to produce and process recreational marijuana, he likened it to the end of an era.
“Cannabis prohibition is over,” he said.
Green’s license were issued at a Washington State Liquor Control Board meeting on Wednesday to a flurry of publicity.
“We are living the dream today here right now,” he said.
Green will operate a 21,000-square-foot growing operation in Spokane under the business name Kouchlock Productions. (Couch lock is slang for too stoned to move.) He said he’s invested $6 million in the growing and processing operation.
Green has operated a medical cannabis dispensary since it was legalized in Washington in 2011, and has dispensaries in Shoreline and Spokane.
Green said there still were obstacles for entrepreneurs, citing the ongoing difficulty in finding a bank willing to work with marijuana businesses.
While Green was the first licensee, the Washington State Liquor Control Board is going through 2,800 applications for producing and processing, said Becky Smith, Liquor Control Board Marijuana Manager.
Several more producer and processor licenses are in the final stages and will be issued this week, according to the Washington State Liquor Control Board.
Retail licenses will be issued after a lottery later this spring, and the state is still set for the first pot stores to open this summer, according to Liquor Control Board agency director Rick Garza.
Board member Chris Marr said he expects the retail stores to roll out, rather than all be ready to open on the first day. The state will issue 338 retail licenses.
The Seattle Times raised questions about Green after uncovering labor complaints made by Green’s employees.
Marr told reporters that the board’s staff felt that Green satisfied all the requirements and criteria for receiving a producer and grower’s license.
On Tuesday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we cover a proposal by Senate Democrats to close tax breaks to raise money for education. We also have details on a bill to allow some prison inmates to take state-funded college courses, and another measure that would let Washington entrepreneurs raise money through crowdsourcing.
Watch the show below:
Employers would be required to offer paid vacation leave to employees who work at least 20 hours a week under a proposal considered Friday in a House committee.
Democratic Rep. Gael Tarleton is the sponsor of House Bill 2238, which would apply to businesses with more than 25 employees. Workers must be employed for six months before they can begin accruing leave.
Tarleton said workers should be allowed to ask for paid vacation leave without the fear of losing a job offer.
“Everywhere I’ve worked, people have needed to need to take time off because people are not machines,” she said. “If we give people time off, they will come back to work ready to give it all they got.”
Seattle cardiologist Sarah Speck testified in support of the bill Friday at the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee. She said people are suffering from heart disease at a younger age because of workplace stress.
“We work too many hours, we take too few breaks and we have too many burdens that are exceedingly stressful,” Speck said. She said excessive stress can be just as harmful to a person’s health as obesity.
Kris Tefft of the Association of Washington Business testified against the bill, saying it would place burdens on employers.
“Paid vacation time is not free,” he said. “An increase in the amount of money an employer is forced to set aside for paid vacation comes at the expense of other salary or benefits that an employee might want more.”
The bill is scheduled for a committee vote on Jan. 28 at 1:30 p.m.
UPDATED to include special session hearings. Here’s what we’re covering this week on TVW:
Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 10 a.m.: The Legislative Advisory Committee on Advanced Tuition Payment will get an update on the state’s prepaid tuition program. Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program allows parents to buy tuition units at a set price, then redeem them in the future at one of the state’s public universities. TVW will live webcast the hearing at this link.
Wednesday, Nov. 6 from 7:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.: TVW will live webcast an all-day health care forum sponsored by the Association of Washington Business. Speakers include Richard Onizuka, CEO of the State Health Benefit Exchange Board, as well as several business and insurance representatives. The full agenda is available here. Webcast links to each segment of the program are available on TVW’s schedule page.
Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 7 & 10 p.m.: TVW will have the latest election results on “The Impact,” as well as reaction from the campaigns for I-522, I-517 and the 26th District Senate race between Jan Angel and Nathan Schlicher. Plus, meet students participating in the state’s mock election process and how it’s getting them involved in politics
Special session begins at 9 a.m. Thursday. On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that he was calling legislators back to Olympia to pass a package of bills that will guarantee Boeing builds its newest plane, the 777X, in Washington state.
Thursday, Nov. 7 at 1:30 p.m.: The House Finance Committee is holding a public hearing on a proposal to extend tax incentives to Boeing and the aerospace industry. TVW will air it live on television, as well as webcast it at this link.
Thursday, Nov. 8 at 2:30 p.m.: The state Economic & Revenue Forecast Council will hear an economic review by chief economist Steve Lerch. The council will also approve the state’s budget outlook. TVW will live webcast the meeting at this link.
Thursday, Nov. 7 at 7 & 10 p.m.: Boeing has pledged to build the new 777X airplane in Washington state if lawmakers approve a series of bills. On this week’s “Inside Olympia,” host Austin Jenkins talks with 777X Task Force members Sen. Rodney Tom and Rep. Larry Springer, and the governor’s aerospace director Alex Pietsch.
Friday, Nov. 8 at 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.: TVW will live webcast the Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting. The agenda includes a public discussion and decision on the state’s purchase of 589 acres in Yakima County and 5,497 acres in Kittitas County. Webcast links to each segment of the hearing are available on TVW’s schedule page.
The state Senate on Monday approved a measure that would scale back Seattle’s sick-leave law.
Senate Bill 5726, sponsored by Sen. John Braun (R-Centralia), would prohibit cities from requiring sick leave for employers based outside the city limits. The measure was approved by a 29-20 vote. Seattle passed the ordinance last year requiring businesses with more than five employees to provide paid sick leave.
Republican Leader Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville) called Seattle’s law a “book-keeping, job-killing nightmare” for employers based outside of Seattle, but do business there.
“This about the other cities and counties in the state that didn’t get to vote in Seattle,” Schoesler said.
Democrats opposed to the bill say the legislation interferes in a local jurisdiction’s right to due process.
“It’s not about fairness. It’s about punishing the city of Seattle for a policy they made,” said Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle).
Meanwhile, a proposal to expand Seattle’s law statewide is still alive in the House. House Bill 1313 would require employers with more than four full-time employees to provide paid sick leave for workers, or sick members their family. The Senate bill now moves on to the other chamber for consideration.
Members of the Senate’s new Republican-controlled majority coalition say the delay of a floor vote on a package of controversial workers’ compensation bills is proof they are willing to listen to all sides of the debate.
On Wednesday, the coalition held off on the bills they say are aimed at controlling costs. One bill would give injured workers an incentive to take a lump sum settlement in lieu of traditional state pensions. Anther bill would alter the way an injured worker’s benefits are calculated, including the compensation a surviving spouse would receive.
Senate Democrats say the legislation would restructure the workers’ comp system and should not have been rushed through Senate’s Commerce and Labor Committee without proper consideration.
“We listened to the minority. They said they needed a little more time. We are trying to work with them in a bipartisan effort,” Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom (D-Medina) said Wednesday.
Rep. Steve Conway (D-Tacoma) argued against the proposals in the Senate committee. The measures passed on a 4-3 vote along party lines.
“The worker comp system is designed to help injured workers get back on the job. But the Republicans’ changes only make it harder for middle class workers to regain their health and get back to work,” he said in a statement on the Senate Democrats website.
“We are looking to help contain worker compensation costs,” Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville) said. “We are open to compromise to get the end result. This isn’t a political statement. We listened.”
Leaders of the Majority Coalition, which holds a 25-24 seat advantage in the Senate, are hoping the additional time will be enough to convince some Democrats to support the legislation, improving its chances when it heads to the House.
Lawmakers are scheduled to re-convene on the Senate floor at 10 a.m. Friday, but it is unclear when the bills will get a vote.