Archive for WA House

House Environment Leaders Talk About Priorities for the 2015 Legislative Session

By | December 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

Climate change legislation is just one of the many big topics Washington’s House Environment Committee will tackle during the 2015 legislative session.

Committee Chair, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D – Burien), and ranking minority member, Rep. Shelly Short (R – Addy), stopped by TVW this week to talk about that and another big priority, oil train safety.

Be sure to watch this week’s episode of The Impact.



House Democrats Announce Committee Leadership

By | December 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

After reorganizing House committees for the next biennium, Democrats announced Wednesday who will be leading those committees.

The list is as follows:

·       Agriculture and Natural Resources: Rep. Brian Blake (Aberdeen), chair; Rep. Kris Lytton (Anacortes), vice-chair

·       Appropriations: Rep. Ross Hunter (Medina), chair; Rep. Timm Ormsby (Spokane), vice-chair

·       Business and Financial Services: Rep. Steve Kirby (Tacoma), chair; Rep. Cindy Ryu (Shoreline), vice-chair

·       Capital Budget: Rep. Hans Dunshee (Snohomish), chair; Rep. Derek Stanford (Bothell), vice-chair

·       Commerce and Gaming: Rep. Chris Hurst (Enumclaw), chair; Rep. Sharon Wylie (Vancouver), vice-chair

·       Community Development, Housing, and Tribal Affairs: Rep. Sherry Appleton(Poulsbo), chair; Rep. June Robinson (Everett), vice-chair

·       Early Learning and Human Services: Rep. Ruth Kagi (Lake Forest Park), chair; Rep. Brady Walkinshaw (Seattle), vice-chair

·       Education: Rep. Sharon Santos (Seattle), chair; Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self (Everett), vice-chair; Rep. Chris Reykdal (Tumwater), vice-chair

·       Environment: Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (Burien), chair; Rep. Strom Peterson (Edmonds), vice-chair

·       Finance: Rep. Reuven Carlyle (Seattle), chair; Rep. Steve Tharinger (Dungeness), vice-chair

·       General Government and Information Technology: Rep. Zack Hudgins (Tukwila), chair; Rep. Tana Senn (Mercer Island), vice-chair

·       Health Care and Wellness: Rep. Eileen Cody (West Seattle), chair; Rep. Marcus Riccelli (Spokane), vice-chair

·       Higher Education: Rep. Drew Hansen (Bainbridge Island), chair; Rep. Gerry Pollet (Seattle), vice-chair

·       Judiciary: Rep. Laurie Jinkins (Tacoma), chair; Rep. Christine Kilduff (University Place), vice-chair

·       Labor: Rep. Mike Sells (Everett), chair; Rep. Mia Gregerson (SeaTac), vice-chair

·       Local Government: Rep. Dean Takko (Longview), chair; Rep. Mia Gregerson (SeaTac), vice-chair

·       Public Safety: Rep. Roger Goodman (Kirkland), chair; Rep. Tina Orwall (Des Moines), vice-chair

·       State Government: Rep. Sam Hunt (Olympia), chair; Rep. Steve Bergquist (Renton), vice-chair

·       Technology and Economic Development: Rep. Jeff Morris (Mount Vernon), chair; Rep. Gael Tarleton (Ballard), vice-chair

·       Transportation: Rep. Judy Clibborn (Mercer Island), chair; Rep. Jessyn Farrell (Seattle), vice-chair; Rep. Jake Fey (Tacoma), vice-chair; Rep. Luis Moscoso (Mountlake Terrace), vice-chair

You can find the entire list of House Democratic committee assignments on their website.


Categories: Democrats, WA House

House Democratic Leaders Reorganize Committees

By | December 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

Democrats have a new structure for House committees for the 2015 legislative session. Some committees have been canceled, others added, and some of the remaining will have new names and roles.

According to a document given to House members, there are now 21 committees instead of 23. The committees canceled include the appropriations subcommittees on education and the one on health and human services, along with the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee.

There is a new committee being formed to deal specifically with issues related to marijuana and gambling. It’s called the Commerce and Gaming Committee. The description on the document: “The House Commerce & Gaming Committee considers issues relating to commerce in alcohol, tobacco and cannabis and issues relating to the regulation and oversight of gaming, including tribal compacts.”

Also new next session, a State Government Committee. It will take over the ethics, campaign finance and other state agency issues often heard by the Government Operations and Elections Committee.

There is a new name and focus for the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Information Technology. It’s no longer considered a subcommittee and will address issues of state government, LEAN management, and audits.

The new Labor Committee has a shorter name. The Workforce Development part was dropped from that committee and moved to the Higher Education Committee.

To read the House committee descriptions: 2015-16 committee issue areas (2)

Senate, House leaders talk about priorities for session

By | December 3, 2014 | 0 Comments

Newly elected Republican Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler says some Democrats will be starting session with a “preordained goal of raising taxes” to pay for education — something he says should only be a “last resort.”

The GOP-led Majority Coalition Caucus is focusing on “efficiencies and savings” to close the budget gap, Schoesler said. As an example of inefficient spending, he cited a $600,000 workshop in Tacoma for Department of Social and Health Services employees at the same time the agency was facing layoffs.

“The agency directors down through mid-management have to understand, we think lean management is a great idea,” he said. “They need to get it, or get out.”

Democratic House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said that after five years of budget reductions, “finding additional room for cuts is more difficult than ever.”

Sullivan said Democrats are focused on funding education while also protecting services. “That’s got to be foremost goal,” he said. “Whether we pay for it in existing revenue is the debate we’ll have.”

Both leaders spoke on this week’s edition of “The Impact” – watch it below.

Categories: WA House, WA Senate

Mark Schoesler elected Senate majority leader

By | December 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

Mark Schoesler

Senate Republicans on Monday elected Sen. Mark Schoesler of Ritzville to be the new majority leader.

Schoesler succeeds Sen. Rodney Tom, a Democrat who joined with Republicans two years ago to form the Majority Coalition Caucus. Tom did not seek re-election to his seat.

The Majority Coalition Caucus will continue to use the name. The group controls the Senate with 25 Republicans and one Democrat, Sen. Tim Sheldon of Potlatch. Democrats hold 23 seats in the chamber.

Republican Sen. Linda Evans Parlette of Wenatchee will continue as chair of the caucus. Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, will be deputy leader, Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, will serve as whip and Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, was re-elected as floor leader.

Democrats control the House with a 51 to 47 vote majority. The party selected its leaders last month.

Rep. Frank Chopp of Seattle will continue as speaker, Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, will serve as majority leader and Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, will be the caucus chair.

State Rep. Roger Freeman dies after battle with cancer

By | October 29, 2014 | 0 Comments

Rep. Roger Freeman, a Democratic freshman lawmaker from Federal Way, has died after a yearlong battle with cancer, according to The News Tribune.

Freeman, 48, was diagnosed with colon cancer last year. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement saying Freeman was “fully committed to his work despite the battle he faced against cancer, and was one of the most professional, eloquent and kind-hearted legislators I’ve had the pleasure of working with.”

Freeman was running for re-election against Republican Jack Dovey in the 30th Legislative District.

The Secretary of State’s Office said that if Freeman wins the election, it will result in a vacant seat that must be filled through the standard appointment process. Three candidates would be nominated by 30th Legislative District Democrats, and the King and Pierce County Councils would jointly select a replacement.

“Though Rep. Freeman’s time in the Legislature was short, I got to know him well enough to know that he loved his family deeply and missed them every day when he was here working on behalf of the people of our district,” said retiring state Sen. Tracey Eide of Federal Way.

Categories: WA House

Ethics board votes to limit free meals for legislators

By | October 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

Legislators cannot accept more than 12 free meals a year from lobbyists under a new rule adopted unanimously Tuesday by the Legislative Ethics Board.

Lawmakers are allowed to accept gifts of food or beverages on “infrequent occasions” if they are discussing legislative business. However, an investigation published last year by the AP and Northwest Public Radio found that legislators were accepting hundreds of meals worth thousands of dollars from lobbyists on a regular basis.

The ethics board held four meetings this year to define “infrequent” for the first time.

The new rule adopted Tuesday defines “infrequent” as 12 times per calendar year, and states that a qualifying meal could be a breakfast, lunch or dinner that includes food and beverages.

It also includes a number of exceptions — for example, a legislator is allowed to accept a free cup of coffee from a lobbyist. The rule also doesn’t apply to buffet-style events where attendance is related to the legislator’s official duties.

Read the draft rule here.

The new rule goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015. Watch today’s hearing at this link.

Categories: WA House, WA Senate

Rep. Cyrus Habib and Joan McBride swap races in 48th District

By | April 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

Rep. Cyrus Habib

Joan McBride

Democratic Rep. Cyrus Habib announced Monday he’s running for the Senate seat being vacated by Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom.

Former Kirkland mayor Joan McBride previously announced her intentions to run for Tom’s seat. Instead, the Democrat will switch races and compete for Habib’s seat in the House.

The 48th Legislative District includes parts of Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond.

Tom, of Medina, ended his re-election campaign last week, citing family and health concerns. He was one of two conservative Democrats who helped Republicans take control of the state Senate last year, forming the Majority Coalition Caucus.

According to the Redmond Reporter, McBride said in a news release: “I originally ran for two reasons: to defeat Rodney Tom and bring my perspective and experience as a longtime Eastside Civic leader to Olympia and continue my record of service. With Tom out, my priority is to do what’s needed to make a difference on issues that matter—fixing transportation and transit, investing in our schools and families, and protecting our environment. I think I can make the most immediate impact as part of a dynamic team in the state House.”

Cyrus is a Bellevue native who became legally blind at age 8 because of cancer. He is the vice chair of the House Technology and Economic Development Committee.

“I am running to bring both my legislative experience and our district’s socially progressive yet pro economic growth values to the State Senate, where I know I can make an even greater difference,” Cyrus said in a release.

A Republican candidate has not yet been named in either race.

Categories: Election, WA House, WA Senate

Ethics board looks at rule allowing legislators to accept free meals, drinks

By | April 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

An ethics board is seeking to clarify how frequently legislators are allowed to accept free meals and drinks, following news reports that some lawmakers have accepted dozens of free meals from lobbyists.

State legislators are allowed to accept meals or drinks on “infrequent” occasions. The Legislative Ethics Board held a meeting Tuesday to start the process of adopting a new rule for gifts for legislators, which could include setting a formal definition of “infrequent.”

The discussion stems from news reports published by the Associated Press and Northwest Public Radio that showed that lobbyists picked up the tab for hundreds of meals for lawmakers worth about $65,000 during the first four months of the 2013 legislative session. One Republican senator accepted about $2,000 worth of freebies on 62 occasions over four months.

Robert Cavanaugh testified at Tuesday’s public hearing, describing himself as a citizen activist who has worked on legislative issues since the 1970s. He says corporate lobbyists get unfair access to legislators, leaving people like him at a disadvantage.

“We cannot compete with the Boeings and the Microsofts,” he said. “When I try to get access to a legislator and get on an agenda, I see high-paid lobbyists coming and going into those offices. And I sit outside in the hallway with an appointment that is never honored.”

Cavanaugh told the board he believes that legislators should not be allowed to accept any free meals or lodging.

“I resent the favoritism that goes on and I think you have an opportunity to change it and I hope you do,” he said.

Former Olympia mayor and city councilman Bob Jacobs also testified at the hearing. He recommended the board adopt a complete prohibition against accepting gifts, which he says would take the pressure off of lawmakers.

“You can say, ‘It’s illegal, I can’t do that, that’s off the table.’ It’s clean and everybody understands it,” Jacobs said.

An outright ban may be outside of the board’s scope, said member Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle.

“I don’t think we have the authority to do that, given that the Legislature has authorized gifts on an infrequent basis — which in my view doesn’t mean 62 times in four months — but also doesn’t mean never ever,” Pedersen said.

Pedersen also suggested that lawmakers should file a statement each month listing what they’ve received, rather than leave that paperwork up to lobbyists.

The board agreed to come up with draft proposals for a new rule before the group meets again on June 17. Those proposals will be refined by the board’s August meeting and formally adopted by October, board members agreed.

TVW video of Tuesday’s meeting is available at this link.

Categories: WA House, WA Senate

Legislative Year in Review

By | March 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

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:

2014 Roundup: What bills passed, what didn’t pass during session

By | March 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Washington State Legislature adjourned shortly before midnight on Thursday, the final day of the regular 2014 session. It’s the first time since 2009 that lawmakers finished their work without going into an overtime special session.

Here’s an overview of what lawmakers accomplished — and didn’t accomplish — during the session.


Supplemental budget: Both chambers agreed on a supplemental operating budget that spends about $155 million, including $58 for K-12 books and supplies. It also adds additional money to the mental health system, early learning and prisons. It does not include any new taxes or tax breaks, nor does it include teacher pay raises.

Dream Act/Real Hope Act: The Dream Act allows undocumented immigrants to apply for state need grants to help pay for college. The House passed its version of the Dream Act on opening day. The Senate renamed it the Real Hope Act and added $5 million to the state need grant. It was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee in February.

Homeless fees: As part of a last-minute deal, lawmakers agreed to extend until 2019 a $40 document recording fee that people pay during real estate transaction, such as buying or refinancing a house. The fee supports homeless shelters, affordable housing and other services and was scheduled to sunset unless the Legislature took action.

24 credit diploma: Starting with the class of 2019, high school students will have to earn 24 credits for a diploma. The current minimum is 20 credits, although some school districts require more than the minimum. The bill will also provide more opportunities for students to take career and technical classes that meet graduation requirements.

Tanning beds ban: Teenagers under the age of 18 would no longer be allowed to use tanning beds in Washington. Senate Bill 6065 bans minors from using tanning beds, unless they have a written prescription for UV radiation treatment from a doctor. Tanning salons would be fined $250 for violations.

Domestic violence: Washington residents under domestic violence restraining orders will soon be barred from owning guns. The bill says that someone who is under a protection, no-contact, or restraining order related to domestic violence must surrender his or her guns to law enforcement.

Drones: The Legislature approved a bill that puts limits government agencies that use drones, or remote-controlled monitoring devices, for surveillance. An agency may only use a drone after getting a warrant or under several exceptions, such as a fire or other emergency.

Religious holidays: State employees will be allowed to take two unpaid days off a year for religious reasons, and public school children will be excused for two days under a bill approved by the Legislature.

Military in-state tuition: Veterans and active duty military members will soon qualify for in-state tuition at Washington colleges and universities without having to first establish residency. Senate Bill 5318 waives the one-year waiting period for veterans, military members and their families.

Short-barreled rifles: Washington gun owners will soon be allowed to own a short-barreled rifle under a bill approved by the Legislature. It is currently a felony to own a gun with a rifle with a barrel shorter than 16 inches, or to have a modified gun that is shorter than 26 inches overall. (more…)

Live in Olympia: TVW’s Sine Die show starts at 8 a.m. Thursday

By | March 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

Washington’s legislative leaders will adjourn the 2014 session Thursday, unless a special session extends the deadline. But before they go back to their districts TVW will air back-to-back live interviews with more than 20 lawmakers starting at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Anita Kissée reporting live from the capitol rotunda for TVW's special edition mid-session show Feb. 18.

Anita Kissée, host of The Impact, will sit down with Gov. Jay Inslee, House Democratic Majority Leader Rep. Pat Sullivan and House Republican leader Rep. Dan Kristiansen

Other guests include Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, and Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island. The lawmakers will talk about a range of issues from education to the capital budget to the environment.

Plus, Austin Jenkins, host of TVW’s “Inside Olympia” and reporter for the Public Radio Northwest News Network, and Brian Rosenthal, a state government reporter for The Seattle Times, will stop by to talk about some highlights from the past 60 days and what to expect when the election process begins.

Coverage will be here on the blog, and you can watch live on TVW or via webcast.

On ‘Legislative Review:’ High tech tax break, religious holidays and ed goals

By | March 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

On Tuesday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we have highlights from a debate on the Senate floor about extending a tax incentive for high-tech companies. Plus, the Legislature passes bills dealing with religious holidays, tanning beds and the state’s educational goals for the next decade.

Watch the show below:


Categories: WA House, WA Senate

E-cigarette bill passes in House Finance committee

By | March 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

An e-cigarette

The House Finance Committee approved a tax increase on electronic cigarettes in a narrow 7-6 vote on Tuesday.

The amended bill would tax tobacco substitutes, including e-cigarettes, at 75 percent, down from the original bill’s 95 percent tax. Also, under an amendment, the liquid nicotine solutions would be tax-free if prescribed by a doctor as a way to quit smoking.

At a previous hearing on the tax, dozens of ex-smokers and vapor shop owners testified against the bill. They argued that e-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to tobacco and it has helped many to quit smoking.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that heat up a liquid that can contain nicotine. Users inhale vapor instead of smoke.

Bill supporters say they are concerned about the safety of the products and the way it is advertised to teens. E-cigarettes have doubled in popularity among teenagers between 2011 and 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s a sensible thing from a health perspective and for our children,” supporter Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle, said.

Opponents are concerned that a tax increase would discourage former smokers from switching to the healthier tobacco-free alternative and shut vapor businesses down.

Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, objected to the bill, describing it as a “tax bill,” and said the bill “has nothing to do with safety and health.”

Watch the full discussion on TVW’s video here.

House Democrats release proposed supplemental budget, tax revenue plan

By | February 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

House Democrats released a proposed supplemental budget on Wednesday, along with a plan to raise about $100 million dollars for teacher pay raises, early education and other K-12 spending by closing four tax breaks.

The $173 million supplemental budget proposal includes an additional $64 million for schools, including $60 million for technology, materials and supplies.

It also allocates $10 million in community mental health funding increases, including money for a bill that allow the families of those with mental illness to seek help for their loved ones through the courts. The bill was requested by the parents of Joel Rueter, who was killed in a shootout with Seattle police. 

Additionally, the proposal includes $7 million for new prison space and $21 million for child care.

“This is a normal supplemental budget, a modest supplemental budget,” said Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina).

Its spending increase is greater than the $96 million supplemental budget proposed by the Senate on Monday, characterized by Hunter as a small difference. “These budgets… are remarkably similar,” he said.

Democrats also outlined a revenue plan that would raise money for education by ending four tax breaks, including exemptions for bottled water, out-of-state shoppers, extracted fuel used by oil refineries and prescription drug warehouses. The four tax breaks are the same ones the Senate Democrats targeted in a press conference on Tuesday on their proposed plan to address the McCleary decision.

Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) criticized the Senate for proposing extending 20 tax breaks that would cost $243 million.

“Budgets are moral documents,”‘ he said.

Hunter said the House is ready to negotiate over the differences, and expects that the Legislature will have a budget before the regular session ends.

In a prepared statement, Rep. Bruce Chandler (R-Granger), the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, warned against the caucuses trading off priorities.

“The one thing we all as budget writers need to be careful of is buying each other off. We can’t just take one list of ‘wants’ from the Senate and combine it with another list of ‘wants’ from the House. That kind of ‘negotiating’ doesn’t serve the citizens of Washington and in the past has led to problems as state budgets grew far beyond what the taxpayers could afford,” he said.

He also said that any McCleary spending should be handled next session. “Any effort to significantly increase spending for McCleary should be done when we write the next two-year budget, not in a supplemental budget,” he said.

The House’s proposed budget is posted to TVW recorded the press conference, and you can watch it here:

Categories: Budget, WA House

On ‘Legislative Review:’ Highlights from the week’s cutoff floor action

By | February 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

On Tuesday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we have highlights from floor debate over a number of bills that passed out of the House or Senate before Tuesday’s policy cutoff deadline. Plus, the Senate rejects an attempt to change teacher and principal evaluations.

Watch the show below:

Categories: TVW, WA House, WA Senate

House passes bills legalizing hemp, hemp seeds for farm animals

By | February 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

The House approved a bill Monday legalizing hemp in Washington state, paving the way for farmers to grow hemp for products such as clothing, jewelry, lip balm and soaps.

Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, said the bill will boost the state’s farming industry and bring jobs to the state.

Hemp jewelry

“Washington state used to be one of the largest exporters of hemp in the entire world,” Shea said. “This bill will allow us to be that once again.”

It directs the state Department of Agriculture to issue licenses for growing hemp that cost $10 per acre of land. Industrial hemp must contain a THC concentration of 1 percent or less.

Another bill would allow farmers to feed hemp seeds to their commercial animals if it is deemed safe by the Department of Agriculture.

“There’s been found to be some pretty good dietary nutrients inside of hemp seed,” said Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, who urged lawmakers to support the bill. “A vote for this is a vote for happy chickens, happy cows, happy pigs.”

Both bills passed unanimously, and now head to the Senate for its consideration.

Categories: Marijuana, WA House

TVW live mid-session show starts at 8 a.m. Tuesday

By | February 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

TVW will be live starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday with interviews from the Capitol rotunda for a special mid-session edition of The Impact with host Anita Kissée. Tuesday marks a key deadline in the 2014 legislative session as lawmakers rush to meet a 5 p.m. cutoff to move bills out of the chamber of origin.

Tune in to watch interviews with Gov. Jay Inslee, Senate leaders Rodney Tom and Christine Rolfes and House leaders Pat Sullivan and Dan Kristiansen. Plus, transportation leaders will stop by to talk about the latest progress on a transportation package.

The show will also include interviews with Sen. Ann Rivers and Sen. Linda Evans Parlette of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, and Rep. Laurie Jinkins and Rep. Monica Stonier of the House Democratic Caucus.

We’ll also cover a range of issues, including the death penalty with Rep. Jay Rodne and Rep. Reuven Carlyle, education with Rep. Ross Hunter and Rep. Bruce Chandler, labor with Rep. Matt Manweller and Rep. Mike Sells, and higher education with Sen. Barbara Bailey and Rep. Larry Seaquist.

Watch live on TVW or via webcast.

Bill barring gay conversion therapy for minors passes House

By | February 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

The House passed a bill that aims to eliminate the practice of sexual orientation change therapy for minors Thursday afternoon.

House Bill 2451 would ban licensed therapists from using sexual orientation conversion therapy. The bill targets methods meant to make children associate sexual thoughts with pain or other negative experiences, using tactics such as electric shocks or ice water baths.

Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) said one of her friends was forced to undergo shock treatments when she was a teenager until she turned 18 because her parents did not want her to be a lesbian.

“It changed her forever,” she said. “That is the kind of abuse we do not want to see for any child ever.”

The American Psychological Association opposes sexual orientation conversion therapy.

Rep. Maureen Walsh (R-Walla Walla) encouraged her colleagues to vote yes on the bill. Walsh’s 2012 floor speech supporting gay marriage went viral.

“I got thousands of letters, cards, phone calls, emails you name it. They were from all over the world. Many of those who wrote to me were gay kids,” Walsh said. “Many of them stated that they were suicidal because they were not being accepted by their parents. I had more kids ask me to adopt them. They thought I was supermom or something for standing up for my child.”

“There are gay people in this world. and the sooner we recognize that and acknowledge that they are equally as valuable as every one of you heterosexual folks on this floor, the better off we’re going to be,” she said.

Rep. Richard DeBolt (R-Chehalis) encouraged passage of the bill.

“As a Christian person I can’t stand by and idly watch somebody be put through what I would consider a tortuous practice to changing behavior modification,” he said. “I just can’t do that. That’s wrong.”

The bill was passed with an amendment that would exclude nonlicensed religious counselors working for a church or religious denomination and it protects the speech of licensed counselors who are not practicing conversion therapy.

But Rep. Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick) remained concerned about violating the first amendment rights of therapists.

“Regulating licensed health care providers is not our business,” Klippert said. He and three others voted against the bill.

The bill passed 94-4, and is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health Care on Feb. 20.

Bill would close fuel tax loophole to fund schools

By | February 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

The House finance committee heard a bill Thursday that would end one of the seven tax breaks targeted by Gov. Jay Inslee as part of his proposal to fund education.

The governor hopes to help bring in about $60 million dollars each biennium for education by ending a tax break for oil refineries that use an oil byproduct for heat and power. That byproduct also is known as extracted fuel.

The hog fuel tax break originally was meant for lumber and paper mills that use leftover bark and wood chips as fuel. Oil refineries have been getting the same tax break under the law.

Industry and business representatives testified against the House Bill 2465, saying that oil refineries should keep getting the tax break.  The oil industry already paid $260 million dollars in state taxes in 2011, industry lobbyists say.

“We are actually fortunate the original authors of this law had the foresight to allow for expansion opportunities beyond those who may have been seeking it at the time. Recognizing good environmental behavior of reducing CO2 emissions is of significant benefit to our environment,” said Amber Carter, government affairs director of the Association of Washington Business.

Clifford Traisman with the Washington Conservation Voters, an environmental group. said that the group supports the proposal.

“If this is a more environmental process to use this recycled fuel, or extracted fuel, and the internal process is because this has less of a carbon footprint than using other sources of energy, I believe they’ll continue to do that. They won’t need the tax break. They’ll do the right thing,” Traisman said.

“We all agree as families and parents, that funding education is that funding education is the highest paramount duty.”

Finance committee member Rep. J.T. Wilcox (R-Yelm) said successful tax breaks should be flexible.

“We don’t necessarily write them to benefit an industry, we write them to create an economic climate that brings companies to the state and employs people and supports the economy. This is one that appears to me that has been pretty successful in that sense,” he said.

But committee chair and bill sponsor Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) said there’s no evidence that the tax break is driving the oil industry is using extracted fuel at their plants.

The bill also directs the revenue from this tax into education. 

Lawmakers have been wrangling over ways to put more money into the schools, after the state Supreme Court ordered the state to hasten its plan to fund basic education following a lawsuit filed by the McCleary School District.

The seven tax breaks combined would bring in $200 million in the remainder of the 2013-15 biennium, and $414 million in the 2015-17 biennium.

TVW will feature this story on the Feb. 6 edition of Legislative Review, and the hearing is available in the archives.