Archive for 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
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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.

PASSED:

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 fiscal.wa.gov. 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.

Proposal would require day care providers to learn about safe sleeping practices

By | February 3, 2014 | 0 Comments

Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, is the leading cause of death among babies. During the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee on Monday, lawmakers talked about ways to make safe sleeping practices clear to care providers .

House Bill 2695 would require the Dept. of Early Learning to provide applicants seeking child care licenses with information about safe sleep practices and also monitor the way child cares manage nap time. If a facility was found violating safe sleep practices more than once the department would would revoke their license.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, examples of safe sleeping practices include placing a baby on a firm surface, laying the baby on his or her back and keeping soft objects out of the crib, such as loose bedding.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Seattle, is also pushing “The Eve Uphold Act” a related bill that would require the department to conduct official reviews when a baby dies at a licensed daycare. She said that the goal is to emphasize the importance of safe sleeping to child care providers and hold them accountable for their actions.

Representatives from the Office of the Family and Children’s Ombuds (OFCO) and Knowledge Universe supported the intent of the bill, but say that child care providers should lose their license upon the first violation.

“One violation is one too many. One incident of a provider failing to meet safe sleep practices can result in a child’s death,” said Erin Shea McCann with OFCO.

Categories: Olympia, TVW, WA House

Hemp farming would be legalized under legislation

By | January 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

Washington became a marijuana-friendly state when voters approved Initiative 502 legalizing marijuana. Now, the legislature is talking about making hemp farming legal as well.

Joy Maher shows off her hemp collection at the TVW office.

Two bills were discussed Thursday at the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee that seek to create a licensing system for hemp growers governed by the Dept. of Agriculture.

While Senate Bill 6214 and Senate Bill 5964 are very similar, the first bill requires Washington State University to conduct a study of the net worth of industrial hemp production before licensing the crop. The cost of the study is estimated to be about $850,000.

Supporters of the hemp bill said that the crop is beneficial from an environmental and financial standpoint. The prime sponsor of Senate Bill 6214, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, said that it uses minimal pesticides and helps with erosion control.

She added that it is expected to cause an “explosive” boost in our state’s economy, citing that the U.S. imported $11.5 million worth of hemp products in 2011.

Committee members raised concerns that marijuana could be concealed in hemp fields.

Aimee Warner, the founder of a cannabis beauty line, brought her "hemp" briefcase to the hearing.

However, testifiers in favor of hemp legalization assured that the plants do not only look different – marijuana is thick and bushy and hemp is tall and thin – but cross pollination would also significantly reduce the potency of the plant.

Joy Beckerman Maher, a longtime industrial hemp consultant, who has been pushing for legalization for decades addressed the myth that hemp can give someone a “high.”

“The only feeling you would get is an awful headache,” said Maher.

Hemp is used to make everything from clothing and beauty products to seed oil and ice cream. The U.S. Declaration of Independence was even written on hemp paper.

On a national scale, the Farm Bill recently allowed hemp cultivation projects to be launched for research and state agriculture department in 10 states that have approved hemp production. These include California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

No action was taken at the hearing. The Impact will air a special segment about the issue Wednesday.

Increased fines aim to discourage litterbugs

By | January 29, 2014 | 0 Comments

The House Environment Committee discussed a bill Wednesday that would nearly triple the penalty for littering to $125. Currently, littering in small amounts is a $50 fine.

Whether it’s a result of bad habits, lack of waste bins, overcrowding or a mixture of all these factors, litter is a problem in Washington.

In 2012, more than four million pounds of “stuff” was picked up by environmental groups in Washington, according to the Washington State Dept. of Ecology.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that West Coast communities spend more than half a billion dollars each year to control litter and marine debris.

Prime sponsor of the anti-littering bill, Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, said of raising the fine, “It’s the least we should do.”

The money collected from the higher fines would go towards litter-reduction efforts and state parks. No one testified at the hearing. The bill is scheduled for a committee vote on Friday.

Categories: Environment, Olympia, WA House

House committee passes bill that aims to protect children at daycare

By | January 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

The “Eve Uphold Act” was approved by a House committee this week, named after a child who died while at a state-licensed daycare in Seattle.

The bill would require the Department of Early Learning to conduct official investigations when a child dies at a licensed child care center. The department must also publicize the reports online.

Portrait of Eve Uphold before she died of SIDS. Photo credit: KOMO news

Amanda and Kyle Uphold are pushing House Bill 2165 after losing their five-month-old daughter, Eve, to sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.

After an investigation, the Upholds discovered that their state-licensed daycare provider left Eve alone for more than an hour and put her to sleep improperly. They also learned that another child died years before at the same facility.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Seattle, said the goal is to protect children and hold care providers accountable for their actions.

“There is no way we can reverse the terrible tragedy of baby Eve’s death. But, together, we can learn from this tragedy and help prevent future deaths from SIDS and other causes,” said Kagi.

However, opponents testified at a hearing last week that the bill would not solve the problem.

The House Early Learning and Human Services Committee passed the bill out of committee on Monday with an 11-0 vote.

House approves bill that would end differential tuition

By | January 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

Washington colleges and universities would not be allowed to set different tuition rates for different degrees under a bill passed off the House floor Friday.

House Bill 1043 would remove the ability of colleges to set higher tuition rates for certain high-demand majors, such as science or computer engineering.

Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, said the variation in tuition rates is a challenge to GET, state’s prepaid tuition program. He said it also has unintended consequences for students.

“It tends to restrict the ability of students to chose where they go to school, or to move from major to major,” Seaquist said.

The bill passed with a vote of 90 to 2, and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Categories: Education, WA House

Bill would ban people from smoking in cars with kids

By | January 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

Lawmakers considered an anti-smoking bill this week that would fine drivers who light up when minors are in the car. While the infraction would not go on the driver’s record, it would be a primary traffic offense and cost up to $250.

During a House Transportation Committee hearing on Tuesday, lawmakers heard public testimony from proponents of House Bill 2086. Supporters said that protecting kids from second-hand smoke, which is linked to asthma and other respiratory infections, is reason enough for the ban.

“Our state has a responsibility to protect our kids who can’t speak for themselves and can’t speak up when they’re being exposed,” said Meagan Darrow, program manager for Together!, a Thurston County health nonprofit.

Infants and young children are particularly at risk to the toxins because their lungs are still developing, said Carrie Nyssen with the American Lung Association.

No one testified in opposition of the measure.

But Rep. Marko Liias (D-Mukilteo) raised concerns about the bill, saying it could result in racial profiling by law enforcement officers. “If we look at the demographic of the people who smoke in our society, it’s a lot of folks in marginalized communities,” Liias said.

This will be the fourth time the Legislature has discussed this issue. The committee took no action on the measure Tuesday.

TVW will air a segment about this topic on next week’s edition of “The Impact.” It will air Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 7 and 10 p.m.

Categories: transportation, TVW, WA House