OLYMPIA — Lawmakers returned to Olympia this week for the 2020 legislative session, which is scheduled to adjourn March 12. The legislature meets for a scheduled 105 days in odd-numbered years, and 60 days in even-numbered years.

Majority Democrats elected Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) as the new Speaker of the House, the first woman to hold that position in the state’s history. She succeeds Rep. Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) who served as Speaker for 20 years, one of the longest-serving state House Speakers in the country. He resigned as Speaker last May but continues to serve as a member of the House.

The House and the Senate passed a number of bills this week that had passed during last year’s session, but did not make it through both chambers. Most cleared with unanimous or near-unanimous votes, but following are the measures that passed this week with significantly split votes.

Senate Bill 5323, Reducing pollution from plastic bags by establishing minimum state standards for the use of bags at retail establishments. Passed the Senate on January 15, 2020 by a vote of 30-19.

This bill would ban stores from giving single-use plastic carryout bags to their customers. The ban includes paper and recycled plastic bags unless they meet stringent recycled content requirements. Under the bill, retailers would also be required to collect an 8-cent per bag tax for each recycled content large paper or plastic carryout bag provided. These provisions would supersede local bag ordinances, except for ordinances establishing a 10-cent per bag charge in effect as of January 1, 2019. The bill was sent to the House Environment and Energy Committee for further consideration. SB 5323 passed the Senate by a 31-14 vote (4 members excused) last March, but did not advance in the House before the session ended. Majority Democrats brought the bill back up for a vote with less than 24 hours notice and no opportunity for additional public input. Re-passage of SB 5323 by the Senate is the furthest that statewide bag-ban proposals have advanced in the legislative process, since the idea of regulating and taxing shopping bags were first proposed in 2013.

19 Sen. Dean Takko (Longview) (D) Y

Senate Bill 5811, Reducing emissions by making changes to the clean car standards and clean car program. Passed the Senate on January 15, 2020 by a vote of 26-23.

This bill would impose California’s automobile emission rules on vehicle owners in Washington. Under the bill, car makers would be assigned credits based on the kind of fuel efficient cars they bring into the state. Those credits would then be used to set quotas for how many zero-emission vehicles manufacturers must ship into the state and for dealers to offer for sale, regardless of whether consumers want them or not. The stated goal of the bill is to have about 2.5 percent of all cars brought into Washington be the equivalent of zero-emission vehicles. The bill was sent the House Environment and Energy Committee for further consideration. SB 5811 passed the Senate by a 26-22 vote (one member excused) last March but did not advance in the House before the session ended. No opportunities for additional public input were provided ahead of this week’s vote.

19 Sen. Dean Takko (Longview) (D) N

Senate Bill 5947, Establishing the sustainable farms and fields grant program. Passed the Senate on January 15, 2020 by a vote of 32-17.

This bill would establish a grant program intended to help agriculture reduce its carbon output. Subject to funding, the Washington State Department of Agriculture would be required to develop a sustainable farms and fields grant program that would allow more producers to enroll in conservation programs, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use, and to help reduce the overall carbon footprint of the state. Sustainable farms and fields grants could be applied towards down payments on equipment or other types of loans; blended use of fossil-fuel based pesticides and fertilizers and non-fossil-fuel based pesticides and fertilizers; or costs associated with installation of carbon farming practices or agroforestry practices. The bill was sent to the House Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources Committee for further consideration. SB 5947 also passed the Senate by a vote of 32-15 (two members excused) last year but did not advance further before the session ended. Again, no opportunities for additional public input was provided ahead of this week’s vote.

19 Sen. Dean Takko (Longview) (D) Y

Senate Joint Memorial 8014, Concerning logging and mining in the upper Skagit watershed. Passed the Senate on January 15, 2020 by a vote of 29-19 (one member excused).

This memorial would request that British Columbia work with the city of Seattle and the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission to prevent logging and mining in the Upper Skagit watershed, in order to ensure the area's environmental and recreational resources are permanently protected. Proponents of the measure say it is important to let the British Columbia government know that Washington state is concerned about logging and mining operations in the Upper Skagit watershed. They say that proposed mining activities in this area pose a significant risk to the health of fish and wildlife species, and that waste from mining activities can be toxic to juvenile salmon. The Skagit river provides important habitat for the various species of salmon, including chinook, steelhead, and bull trout. The memorial was sent to the House Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources Committee for further consideration.

19 Sen. Dean Takko (Longview) (D) Y

SOURCE: WashingtonVotes.org is a project of the Washington Policy Center. Please visit www.WashingtonVotes.org and check out our new Olympia news service, Washingtonvotes.org News, which is featured on the home page. We're also on Facebook and Twitter, at washingtonvotes.org.

Y = Yes, N = No, E = Excused, X = Not Voting

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