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

By | March 14, 2014 | 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…)

Federal education waiver in limbo after teacher evaluation bill dies

By | March 14, 2014 | Comments

The state’s waiver from federal No Child Left Behind requirements is in question, after legislators failed to pass it before the end of the 2014 legislative session Thursday.

Gov. Jay Inslee told reporters before the end of session that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made clear to him that without the bill, the state would lose $40 million of flexibility on federal money for schools.

Inslee said the bill would help satisfy the federal No Child Left Behind law requirement to include standardized test scores in teacher evaluations, but the state had been lobbying for a waiver of that requirement because of its own teacher evaluation program.

Inslee said if the bill didn’t pass, “we have to rethink and regroup.”

The bill failed in the Senate 19-28 last month. It was not brought up in the House for a vote.

Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, who had tried to get support, told reporters that Senators in both parties had supported the bill, but not enough to get the votes to pass it.

“We always lose the far right and the far left,” he said.

Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D- Bothell, who opposed the bill, said all that would happen without the waiver would be that the $40 million would be spent on programs specified by the federal Department of Education. That was not enough reason to give in on teacher evaluations, she said.

“They are not losing the money, they just having strings attached,” she said.

McAuliffe said the federal government needs to change the No Child Left Behind law, and said Washington state shouldn’t hand over control of its own education system to the federal government.

“I hope it sends a message to them,” she said.

Categories: Education

Fees that support homeless programs extended through 2019

By | March 13, 2014 | Comments

A document fee that raises money for homeless programs will be extended through 2019, under a bill passed by the Legislature on Thursday night.

The bill passed out of the Senate, 41-8, and was immediately transferred to the House, where it passed 74-22.

“This bill will save lives,” said Rep. David Sawyer, D-Tacoma.

Programs that operate homeless shelters, low-income housing and other homeless services depend on money raised through a $40 document recording fee collected during certain real estate transactions, such as a buying or refinancing a house. The fee is set to decrease starting next year.

Senate Bill 5875, which would have extended the fee for one year, was amended by Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, to extend the fee through June 2019. It also creates a work group to look at the effectiveness of the program, and plan for homeless funding in the future. In addition, the bill sets aside 45 percent of the money raised through the fee for private rental housing.

The bill calls for a performance audit in 2016 and a task force starting in 2017.

“I made a commitment to make it work to help homeless people,” Angel said, who said that she was nearly homeless at one point in her life. “I know what that feeling is like. I’ve been very committed to coming up with a good solution.”

Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, spoke in support of the amendment.

“I wish there was not a sunset or the sunset was pushed out further,” he said. “We are saving thousands and thousands of people from losing their homes.”

Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, said he supported the bill.

“I personally preferred removing the sunset, frankly. But there are others who are not. And I have responsibilities for that team,” he said.

“We have four years to work on it,” Benton said. “We’re going to make sure it’s going to go where we all want it to go to. And that’s to help folks who are homeless and not toward administrative costs toward some agency somewhere.”

More than 20 people testified at a public hearing on the bill this month, including homeless advocates who say many programs rely on the fees to provide services across the state.

Categories: Public Policy

Military tuition bill approved by Legislature

By | March 13, 2014 | Comments

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. It passed out of the House unanimously in the final hours of the regular 2014 legislative session. It previously passed unanimously out of the Senate, and now heads to the governor for his signature.

“This legislation is a tiny token of appreciation to our veterans and their families,” said Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo.

The bill was one of two pieces of legislation that leaders exempted from last week’s policy deadline, allowing the bills to be considered up until Thursday.

Categories: Public Policy

Legislature passes supplemental operating budget on final day of session

By | March 13, 2014 | Comments

The Washington State Legislature passed a supplemental operating budget Thursday that increases spending on K-12 education by $58 million, but skips any tax break closures that Democrats hoped to pass this year.

The House passed the budget 85-13, with 13 Republicans voting against it. The Senate passed the budget 48-1, with Sen. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo, voting against it.

The supplemental budget spends about $155 million overall, including the $58 million for school books and supplies, $23 million in early learning and childcare, $20 million in mental health and $5.4 million for increased prison capacity.

Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, called the budget it a “bipartisan victory,” and praised it for freezing tuition. “I think college students all across Washington state should celebrate today because for the second year in a row because they are not going to have a tuition increases,” he said.

Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, said that her constituents encouraged her to reject the budget because it was not progressive enough. She voted in favor of it. “It’s not perfect,” Chase said. “But it’s not that bad.”

Liias voted against the budget because it did not include the continuation of tax incentives that benefits technology companies.

“Any budget is a tough decision it’s a balancing act,” Liias said. “I’m disappointed that our budget couldn’t reach agreement on two important investments in our innovation sector.”

Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, also shared the same concern, though she supported the budget.

“I think it was a huge missed opportunity that we are not extending those data center incentives,” she said.

Over in the House, Rep. Cary Condotta, R-East Wenatchee, also objected to the lack of the technology tax breaks and voted against the bill. Communities in his district have had new jobs because of them, he said.

“We had a city that was a dusty little town and now it’s coming along,” he said. “There’s a lot of other happy states out there, because they’ll be happy to have those server farms.”

But Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, urged support of the budget.

“People in my community want a chance to catch their breath and to begin to rebuild after the past few years,” Chandler said. “What they continually tell me is that they want a legislature and a state government that will allow them stability predictability and sustainability.

“It won’t make everyone happy, as all budgets are, even our household budgets,” he said. (more…)

Categories: Budget

Lawmakers give support to parents with disabilities

By | March 13, 2014 | Comments

Parents with intellectual and developmental disabilities lose custody of their children at disproportionately high rates. Legislation will now extend services to help these families stay together.

David Stadden proposing to his fiancé Brittany Graves. Photo Credit: Diane Stadden

Both chambers unanimously passed House Bill 2616, which will provide more support to parents with disabilities who are at risk of losing their kids.

The bill requires the Developmental Disabilities Administration, a part of the Department of Social and Health Services, to create a service plan for parents that is tailored to their needs and offer assistance based on his or her disability if a “reasonable accommodation” can be made.

Rep. Roger Freeman, D-Federal Way, the bill’s prime sponsor, said  that his ultimate goal is to raise awareness that people with certain disabilities are capable of being parents.

A report from The National Council on Disabilities reveals that anywhere between 40 to 80 percent of parents with intellectual disabilities lost custody of their children. The reports also finds that they are more often denied adoption.

Diana Stadden, the mother of an adult with autism and the policy and advocacy coordinator of Arc of Washington State, said that current laws are failing to maintain the rights of disabled parents. She added that most research and resources target children with developmental disabilities, but adults are often neglected.

“We don’t think about these children who are going to grow up and want to have a life like anyone else,” said Stadden.

Stadden’s future daughter in law, Brittany Graves, who is autistic, testified at a previous Senate Human Services and Corrections hearing and expressed desires to  one day be a mother. Stadden said this bill means professional services will be available if she makes a few mistakes along the way.

The bill now goes to the governor’s desk for a final signing.

Categories: Public Policy

Legislature approves 24 credit high school diploma

By | March 13, 2014 | Comments

Washington high schoolers will have to earn more credits to graduate under a bill approved by the Legislature this week.

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.

Senate Bill 6552 will also provide more opportunities for students to take career and technical classes that meet graduation requirements.

“With this bill we are improving our standards for high school graduates, whether they are going on to college or whether they are going on to a career after high school,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island.

The bill passed the Senate 45-2 on Thursday, the final day of session. It previously passed out of the House 93-5, and now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.

Categories: Education

Lawmakers aim to keep invasive species out of Washington’s waterways

By | March 13, 2014 | Comments

Washington lawmakers want to make sure invasive species do not infest the state’s waterways.

Idaho Rep. Eric Anderson (right) and aquatic invasive species coordinator, Allen Pleus (left) pose with zebra mussels.

The Senate passed a bill Thursday that will address invasive species through an “integrated pest management” approach. It passed unanimously in the Senate and with a vote of 97-1 in the House.

The legislative action comes after zebra mussels, an invasive species from Russia, were spotted in Lake Powell, bordering Utah and Arizona. Zebra mussels multiply quickly, deplete water nutrients, clog pipes and take away natural resources from native species.

“This is a biological wildfire. What’s worse is that we don’t see the one that’s underwater,” said Idaho Rep. Eric Anderson at a previous Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the issue.

Senate Bill 6040 aims to manage invasive species by reinforcing monitoring checkpoints, providing technical assistance to environmental groups and giving a portion of tax revenues to prevention efforts. It will also conduct education and outreach programs to inform the public about the issue.

Supporters, including Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union, said that the bill is critical to deal with the threat of invasive species more effectively and offers organizations more tools in case of emergency situations.

However, a funding source to implement these measures is not included in the bill.

During a Senate Floor Debate Thursday, Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, said that the bill only establishes a policy because the House “stripped” the funding account leaving lawmakers to address the issue “next year.”

The governor’s signature is the final act needed for the bill to become a law.

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

By | March 13, 2014 | 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.

Lawmakers, Inslee say transportation package unlikely in regular session

By | March 12, 2014 | Comments

Lawmakers said Wednesday a transportation package looks unlikely to happen before the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on Thursday.

Republican leaders discussed the issue at a press conference Wednesday. Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, the co-chair of the Senate transportation committee, said the Majority Coalition Caucus made compromises on spending more than they initially proposed for buses and other modes of transportation, and had lowered their proposed amount of transportation sales and use tax to be dedicated to road projects.

“We made major concessions, we made major moves,” King said Wednesday. “It was obvious from the response we got that they weren’t interested in truly negotiating.”

Construction near the State Route 520 Bridge

Construction crews work on the West Connection Bridge, which is a portion of the new State Route 520 bridge. Photo by Washington State Department of Transportation.

A spokesman for Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, the Democratic co-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, disputed King’s characterization that Democrats were not interested in negotiation. Her office released three letters she sent to King that asked for hearings on transportation revenue bills in exchange for hearings on King’s reform bills.

Gov. Jay Inlsee, who has said that road maintenance throughout the state will take a large hit without a transportation tax package this year, called the stalled discussions a “disappointment.”

He said he doesn’t want to see another disaster like the Skagit River bridge collapse. “I have seen a bridge at the bottom of a river, and I have told them that I don’t want any of them to see that,” he told reporters.

A transportation agreement before the end of session is unlikely, Inslee and King both said.

“We will continue to work on this, but it won’t happen this week,” Inslee said.

Categories: transportation

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

By | March 12, 2014 | 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

Lawmakers pass two unpaid days off for religious reasons for state workers, students

By | March 11, 2014 | Comments

State employees would be allowed to take two unpaid days off a year for religious reasons under a bill passed by the Senate Tuesday. It also excuses public school children for two days.

Sen. David Frockt, D- Seattle, who is Jewish, said he could relate to the issue.

“Growing up in the south and not being from the majority faith (in the) community I grew up in, this is a really big deal for children and students to make sure they’re excused,” he said. “It’s hard to explain when you’re in third or fourth grade how it feels —  not in a bad way, but you learn to respect everybody’s traditions — but just that you’re a little different.”

Bill sponsor Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle, urged support of the bill.

“This bill for more personally signifies one of the most important thing this session quite frankly and it costs no money,” Hasegawa said. “What we’re doing is recognizing the core American value of religious freedom.”

Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, agreed.

“I think this is a really important bill. We’re a nation of many faiths and many traditions and we need to have the ability to respect all of those,” he said.

The bill passed unanimously. SB 5173 passed 64-32 out of the House last week. The bill can head the governor’s office.

Categories: Uncategorized

Tanning bed ban for teenagers passes Senate

By | March 11, 2014 | Comments

Teenagers under the age of 18 years old would no longer be allowed to use tanning beds under a bill passed out of the senate Tuesday.

Bill sponsor Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, urged the Senate to concur with a House amendment to allow tanning beds with a doctor’s prescription.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, stood in the support of the bill.

“It’s going to make a huge difference i think in saving young people’s lives from melanoma,” she said.

Salons that allow a minor to use a tanning bed could be fined up to $250, according to the bill.

SB 6065  passed 42 to 6, and heads to the governor’s desk for signature.

Categories: Uncategorized

New Senate bill dealing with homeless fees passes out of committee

By | March 11, 2014 | Comments

The Senate budget writing committee voted Monday to pass a bill out of committee that would temporarily extend a $40 fee that helps pay for homeless shelters, low-income housing and other homeless services.

Many of those services are currently paid for by a $40 document recording fee collected during certain real estate transactions, such as a buying or refinancing a house. The fee is set to decrease starting next year unless the Legislature takes action.

Senate Bill 5875 would extend the fee for one year, until July 2016. It also creates a workgroup to look for alternative funding sources in the future.

More than 20 people testified at a public hearing on the bill Monday, including homeless advocates who say they rely on the fees to provide services across the state.

Flo Beaumon of Catholic Community Services testified in opposition to the Senate bill, and urged lawmakers to make the fee permanent. “We know what works and we need to be able to keep on doing it,” she said. “The sunset pulls the rug out from under the feet of somebody who just got up on those feet.”

Speaking in support of the measure, Bill Clarke of Washington Realtors said the fee is “not the funding source we like” but it keeps the issue moving forward while also studying alternative funding sources. “Our belief is a more stable, less volatile funding source than document recording fees should exist,” he said.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee voted to pass the bill later Monday night. Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, said the bill is a “good way to move the discussion forward and to keep this bill alive and to keep this discussion alive.”

Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, said one year is not enough of an extension. “I think it’s critical that we get this done,” he said.

“They need to project into their human services budgets money from this account. I really hope that we can approve and strengthen this bill forthwith,” Frockt said.

A competing bill, House Bill 2368, would make the fees permanent. It passed out of the House, but did not get a vote in the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions and Housing & Insurance Committee.

Categories: Public Policy

Democratic Sen. Tracey Eide will not run for re-election

By | March 10, 2014 | Comments

Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, announced Monday that she will not run for re-election in November.

Eide has spent 18 years in the Legislature and is in her fourth term in the Senate, according to her biography.

Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way

When the Democrats were the majority in the Senate, Eide was elected the Majority Floor Leader in 2010, according to her senate biography.

After two Senate Democrats opted to caucus with Republicans, forming the  Majority Coalition Caucus in 2013, Eide became the co-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, sharing chairman duties with Republican Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima.

“After 18 years in the Legislature, including 16 in the Senate, I leave with mixed feelings. I’ve taken joy and satisfaction in every successful effort on behalf of my constituents and my state, and I’ve agonized over those that came up short. It has been a point of privilege and honor to represent my district. I wish I could have done even more, but I’m sure every legislator feels that way,” she said.

Eide’s full statement was released on her website.

Former state representative Mark Miloscia of Federal Way announced last week that he will run for the seat, switching parties from Democrat to Republican.

Categories: WA Senate

Democratic lawmakers concerned over oil freight information, fees for housing

By | March 10, 2014 | Comments

As the Legislature approaches the final four days of session, Democratic lawmakers told reporters Monday they’re concerned about parts of their platform, namely disclosure of oil transportation information and the continuation of a real estate fee that raises money to house the homeless.

Lawmakers disagree over two stalled bills that address the issue of oil transportation reporting.

House Bill 2437 would require refineries to provide information to the Department of Energy about how many tank vessels and rail cars transfer or deliver oil to a refinery each week, the volume and type of oil that arrived at the facility, and the route taken by oil arriving at the facility by rail car. The bill passed out of the Democratically-controlled House, but was not heard in committee in the Senate.

A competing bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale. Senate Bill 6524 would set up a study on transporting oil through over rail through the state. It passed out of committee but has not yet come up for a floor vote in the Senate.

On Monday, Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, criticized Ericksen’s bill as being “just studies.” The oil freight trains “run right through Spokane, where there are schools right next to the rail,” McCoy said. He said that freight also runs through all the communities between Seattle and Vancouver B.C.  ”So we need to make sure that they’re safe.”

Democrats also were concerned over the battle over Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge. The fee is a $40 surcharge on certain real estate transactions in county auditor’s offices. The fee, which is scheduled to sunset over time, is applied to building shelters and other housing.

Republican Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, introduced a bill that would extend the $40 fee for another year, which was being heard in the Ways and Means committee on Monday morning. But Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, told reporters the fee should be permanent.

“Homelessness has dropped 29 percent in the state since we’ve enacted that fee,” she said. Nelson said that making the fee permanent would mean that homelessness would not be a wedge issue.

“Where they’re in the middle every year, as we have to make a decision if we’re going to have that fee,” she said. “I believe it shouldn’t have a sunset clause.”

Nelson said a proposed tax on e-cigarettes and ending four tax breaks to help raise money for education are still in play. However, a proposal to ban certain flame retardants from children’s products, such as furniture, has  stalled this year, she said.

Categories: Democrats

Medical marijuana rules pass Washington Senate

By | March 10, 2014 | Comments

The Senate passed rules on medical marijuana over the weekend, and the bill is headed to the House.

Medical marijuana has been legal but largely unregulated since voters approved it in 1998. Medical marijuana has come under scrutiny by the federal government as the state prepares for legal recreational marijuana to go on sale in licensed stores, expected to start later this year.

Senators Ann Rivers, R-La Center, and Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, both sponsored bills this year that would combine the largely unregulated medical marijuana system with the more regulated recreational marijuana system, under the Liquor Control Board.

“This bill is the very best attempt to protect our patients and their rights and their access to their product while making sure that we meet the Initiative 502 guidelines that we voted on as an electorate,” Rivers said.

The Liquor Control Board also would be renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Board under the bill.

The Senate passed Rivers’ bill, SB 5887, on Saturday, with a number of amendments from Kohl-Welles, on a vote of 34-15.

The rules would include:

  • Medical marijuana would be exempt from sales and use tax, but still subject to a 25 percent excise tax.
  • Patients could have three ounces of marijuana, which is more than the one ounce allowed under recreational rules.
  • Cooperative grows could include up to four participants.
  • Individuals could grow up to six marijuana plants, or up to 15 if prescribed by a doctor.
  • Medical products could be purchased from retail marijuana stores with a special endorsement.
  • Starts a patient and provider registry and restricts access to the registry.

Kohl-Welles described the rules as  a start. Kohl-Welles’  SB 6542, which passed 40-8 on Saturday, would establish a committee that explores the cannabis industry, including a subcommittee on medical marijuana.

“With the regulated, licensed non-medical market opening this year, we are in uncharted territory with regard to legislating on this issue. I voted in favor of this bill because we need regulations regarding medical marijuana. But for the sake of patients, there is still work that needs to be done,” Kohl-Welles said in a prepared statement.

Rivers also said she expects the laws will be adjusted in coming years.

“The use of medical marijuana became legal in 1998, so I realize this bill would create a big change for people who are used to it being unregulated. But by not taking action to standardize quality and access, we are endangering patients who truly need a safe, legal, and consistent source of medical marijuana,” Rivers said in a prepared statement.

Sen.  Brian Dansel, R-Republic, objected to the bill, saying the bill was not what voters intended when they passed Initiative 502. Dansel also questioned whether local jurisdictions would have enough funding to deal with the impacts of the proposed regulations on the health and judicial system.

Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, shared the latter concern, and voted against the bill.

“I was under the impression we were going to have the revenue share with cities and counties who are stuck with the enforcement of this issue,”  he said.

Limits on government drones advances through Senate

By | March 7, 2014 | Comments

The  Senate advanced a house bill that limits government agencies in their use of drones, remote-controlled monitoring devices, for surveillance, under a bill passed Friday evening.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane, said lawmakers weighed a variety of needs.

“We’ve been trying to protect as much as we can the rights of privacy of citizens of our state, and at the same time balance the legitimate needs of law enforcement,” he said.

Sen. Adam Kline, D- Seattle, also spoke in support of the bill.

“It balances the expectations of law enforcement and the rest of us,” Kline said. “This is where law enforcement meets the civil liberties of the citizens of the state of Washington.”

Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, introduced and withdrew several amendments, including one that compels Santa Claus to follow Washington law on drones.

“This is how ridiculous I think this piece of legislation is,” Honeyford said, as he withdrew the Santa Claus amendment.

He said if something can be photographed via plane, it makes no sense to ban drones from taking the same photo.

According to HB 2789 an agency may only use a drone after getting a warrant or under several exceptions:

  • For a non-criminal emergency, such as a fire, with immediate danger of death or serious bodily injury.
  • For training or testing if no personal information is collected.
  • For emergency response during a  governor-declared state of emergency.
  • Environmental or wildlife monitoring or  assessment, when collection of personal data is unlikely.

The bill passed 46 to 1, with Honeyford as the sole vote no.

Categories: Criminal Justice, WA Senate

House passes bill banning tanning beds for teens under 18

By | March 7, 2014 | Comments

Teenagers under the age of 18 would no longer be allowed to use tanning beds in Washington under a bill passed by the House on Friday.

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.

“We don’t let kids smoke under the age of 18 and there’s no reason to tan under the age of 18,” said Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle, on the House floor Friday.

Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, spoke in opposition to the bill Friday, saying it should be a decision left up to parents. “Please stop,” he said. “Quit getting in between parents and children.”

The bill passed out of the House 58 to 39, and previously passed out of the Senate. The amended version of the House bill now returns to the Senate.

Categories: Public Policy

Homeless fees, veteran tuition bill can be considered after Friday’s deadline, legislative leaders say

By | March 7, 2014 | Comments

Legislative leaders in the House and Senate signed a joint letter that releases two bills from Friday’s cutoff deadline, allowing the bills to be considered up until the final day of session.

Friday at 5 p.m. is the deadline for lawmakers to consider policy bills and send them to the governor’s desk for his signature. Only bills related to the budget or taxes are allowed to be considered after Friday’s deadline.

Senate Majority Coalition Leader Rodney Tom, Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler, House Speaker Frank Chopp and House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan all signed a letter Friday saying two bills are not subject to the policy deadline.

One proposal would allow veterans and active duty military members to get in-state tuition at Washington colleges and universities without having to establish residency. The House and Senate have each passed a separate veteran tuition bill, but lawmakers are reportedly stalled over which chamber should get credit.

The second measure would make permanent a real estate fee that was set to expire in 2015. It helps fund homeless transition and housing programs. Advocates rallied at the Capitol this week in favor of the measure.

In the letter, the legislative leaders said: “The veterans’ tuition bill is designed to provide education opportunities for our veterans. The document recording fee provides targeted funding for vulnerable citizens who are struggling with homelessness. House and Senate leadership is in agreement that these issues are not subject to today’s cutoff, and we look forward to delivering this important legislation to the governor before Sine Die.”

The final day of session is Thursday, March 13.

Categories: Olympia, Public Policy