After a key deadline this Wednesday, the last day to pass policy bills out of their original chamber, only 681 measures out of some 2,150 introduced this session are still alive. The cut-off does not apply to budget related matters, nor to initiatives by the people before the legislature. Just prior to the Wednesday cut-off, state lawmakers passed a number of bills considered by many to be key agenda items for the Democratically controlled legislature and governor’s office this session, which is scheduled to adjourn by April 28. Among the notable bills passed this week are:

House Bill 1523, Increasing the availability of quality, affordable health coverage in the individual market. Passed the House on March 8, 2019 by a vote of 57-41.

Proposed by Governor Inslee, this bill would create a subsidized state-funded public health plan. It would require the State Insurance Commissioner and the Health Care Authority to set up plans by 2021 with insurance companies that offer qualified plans in this state. These plans would be available through the state’s health care exchange to all residents, but the state would pay subsidies to individuals with incomes of up to five times the poverty level. That annual income threshold level would currently be about $62,000 for an individual. Premiums would be limited to no more than ten percent of adjusted gross income, and payments to doctors and other health care providers would be restricted to Medicare-level limits. The bill was referred to the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee for further consideration.

19 Rep. Brian Blake (Longview) (D) Y

19 Rep. Jim Walsh (Aberdeen) (R) N

Senate Bill 5526, Senate Bill 5526: Increasing the availability of quality, affordable health coverage in the individual market. Passed the Senate on March 13, 2019 by a vote of 36-13.

This is the companion bill to HB 1523, with essentially the same provisions. The bill was sent to the House Health Care and Wellness Committee for further consideration. It is likely that the two bills will be at some point combined and a single version would then be considered for final passage.

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

Senate Bill 5822, Providing a pathway to establish a universal health care system for the residents of Washington state. Passed the Senate on March 13, 2019 by a vote of 28-21.

This bill would set up a work group to design a government-run, “socialized” health care system available to all residents. If approved by the House and signed by the governor, the group would draft an outline for such a system by Nov.15, 2019 and reveal full recommendations for the plan a year later. During lengthy debate on the floor, Republican senators offered a number of amendments, including a provision that the work group’s recommendations include preservation of the private insurance market. The amendments failed and the bill passed 28-21 with all Republicans and Democratic Sen. Sheldon, who regularly votes with Republicans, voting against it. The bill was referred to the House Health Care and Wellness Committee for further consideration.

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

House Bill 1110, Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation fuels. Passed the House on March 12, 2019 by a vote of 53-43.

This bill would direct the state Department of Ecology to impose low-carbon fuel limits on gasoline and other transportation related fuels with a “clean fuels” program. Under the bill, carbon emissions of transportation fuels would have to be reduced to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035. The mandatory program would begin Jan. 1, 2021. During floor debate, opponents argued that the bill would harm Washington residents by raising gas prices, which are already among the highest in the nation, and raising other costs, including food prices. A Republican amendment to allow a public vote at the next general election was defeated, and the bill passed along party lines by a 53-43 vote. Bi-partisan opposition to the bill included all Republicans and three Democrats. The bill was referred to the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee for further consideration

19 Rep. Brian Blake (Longview) (D) N

19 Rep. Jim Walsh (Aberdeen) (R) N

House Bill 1575, Strengthening the rights of workers through collective bargaining by addressing authorizations and revocations, certifications, and the authority to deduct and accept union dues and fees. Passed the House on March 11, 2019 by a vote of 57-41.

This bill would bar public employees from seeking refunds of fees they were wrongly forced to pay to government unions. In the ”Janus” case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to require public employees who are not members to pay fees to the union. The court ruled an employee's clear consent is required before dues may be deducted from the employee's pay. Since that ruling in 2018, public employees across the country have instituted class action lawsuits to recover the past fees they have paid. This bill says workers cannot get their money back by providing that public employers and public employee unions are not required to return union fees that were deducted prior to the Court’s ruling. The bill was referred to the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee for further consideration.

19 Rep. Brian Blake (Longview) (D) Y

19 Rep. Jim Walsh (Aberdeen) (R) N

Senate Joint Resolution 8201, Amending the Constitution to allow a simple majority of voters voting to authorize school district bonds. Failed in the Senate on March 12, 2019 by a vote of 28-21. (Two-thirds vote required.)

This is a proposed amendment the Washington State Constitution to lower the standard for passing school bond measures. It would allow school districts to issue general obligation bonds for capital purposes, levy taxes to make payments on those bonds, and exceed the constitutional debt limit with a simple majority voter approval, instead of the two-thirds vote currently required under the state constitution. The measure failed, because it did not garner the two-thirds vote required to pass constitutional amendments. SJR 8201 did not survive the cut-off deadline and is now considered dead for the session.

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

Senate Bill 5078, Requiring disclosure of federal income tax returns of presidential and vice presidential candidates prior to appearing on the ballot. Passed the Senate on March 12, 2019, by a vote of 28-21.

This bill would require that presidential and vice-presidential candidates release copies of their federal income tax returns for the last five years to appear on the state presidential primary ballot. If approved by the House and signed by the governor, SB 5078 would apply to the March 2020 presidential primary, the first election to be held under the new law signed by Governor Inslee this week, which moves up the date of the Washington’s presidential primary from May to March. The bill was referred to the House State Government and Tribal Relations 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

Other votes in recent weeks:

House Bill 1638, Promoting immunity against vaccine preventable diseases. Passed the House on March 5, 2019 by a vote of 57-40, one member excused.

Under current law a child is prohibited from attending a school or licensed day care center unless one of the following is presented prior to the child's first day: (1) proof of full immunization; (2) proof of the initiation and compliance with a schedule of immunization; or (3) a certificate of exemption. This bill would remove the philosophical or personal objection exemption for the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine currently allowed. It clarifies that a child may be exempt from mandatory vaccine requirements if he or she has a parent or sibling with a history of immune system problems or an adverse reaction to a particular vaccine. It also requires employees and volunteers at child day care centers to receive the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, provide proof of immunity from the measles, or provide a certification that the vaccine is not medically advisable. The bill was sent to the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee for further consideration.

19 Rep. Brian Blake (Longview) (D) N

19 Rep. Jim Walsh (Aberdeen) (R) N

Senate Bill 5273, Concerning the presidential primary. Passed the House on March 4, 2019 by a vote of 54-42, two members excused.

This bill would move the date of the state’s presidential primary election from late May to the second Tuesday in March. If signed into law, this would mean that Washington’s next presidential primary election would be held on the same day as those in Idaho, Ohio and Michigan and one week after “Super Tuesday,” when there are primaries in nine states including California, Texas, Massachusetts, Alabama and Virginia. Under the bill, which the Senate approved earlier this session on a mostly party-line vote of 29-18, state voters would have to declare whether they are a member of the Republican or Democratic party to participate in the election. Unlike in past presidential primaries, voters would not have the option of casting an “unaffiliated” ballot. The bill is now headed to the Governor for his signature.

19 Rep. Brian Blake (Longview) (D) N

19 Rep. Jim Walsh (Aberdeen) (R) N

Senate Bill 5811, Reducing emissions by making changes to the clean car standards and clean car program. Passed the Senate on March 4, 2019 by a vote of 26-22, one member excused.

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 is now before the House Environment and Energy Committee for further consideration.

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

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 March 5, 2019 by a vote of 31-14, four members excused.

If enacted into law, 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. Passage of SB 5323 by the Senate is the furthest statewide bag-ban proposals have advanced in the legislative process, since the idea of regulating and taxing shopping bags were first proposed in 2013. The bill was sent to the House Environment and Energy Committee for further consideration.

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

Senate Bill 5861, Extending respectful workplace code of conduct provisions to all members of the legislative community. Passed the Senate on March 6, 2019 by a vote of 29-18, two members excused.

Earlier this session, the House and Senate passed House Concurrent Resolution 4401 to establish code of conduct for members and staff of the Legislature. This bill would extend the provisions of that code to lobbyists as members of the “legislative community.” Specially, the bill would require the Pubic Disclosure Commission (PDC) to develop a training course based on the legislative code of conduct. Lobbyist registration forms would have to provide a place to attest that the applicant has completed the PDC training course on the legislative code of conduct. The bill would provide further that, if either chamber makes a credible finding that a lobbyist has violated the legislative code of conduct, the PDC must notify the lobbyist's employers of the violation. The bill was sent to the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee for further consideration.

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

Senate Bill 5116, Supporting Washington's clean energy economy and transitioning to a clean, affordable, and reliable energy future. Passed the Senate on Friday, March 1, 2019 by a vote of 28-19, two members excused.

Under this bill, Washington’s electric utilities would have to eliminate all coal-fired energy sources by 2025 and meet 100 percent of its retail electric load using non-emitting and renewable resources by January 1, 2045. ?In support of the bill, Democrats said the state has an entrepreneurial economy that can move toward a clean energy economy. Solar and wind are the future, and this bill provides a common sense framework for bold actions toward a carbon-free electricity, they said. Republican senators offered nearly two dozen amendments to the bill, pointing out that Washington utilities already rely heavily on clean hydroelectric power and that the bill’s provisions would really only result in additional costs and rate increases to be borne by consumers. Most of the amendments failed, and the bill passed along strictly partisan lines, with one Republican and one Democrat member excused. The bill was sent to the House Committee on Environment and Energy, which has scheduled a public hearing for March 5th.

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

Senate Bill 5395, Concerning comprehensive sexual health education. Passed the Senate on February 27, 2019 by a vote of 28-21.

This is an all-grades sex education proposal that would require schools to provide comprehensive sexual health education as an integral part of the curriculum. The curriculum would be “evidence-based and inclusive,” and would encourage healthy relationships based on mutual respect and affection, free from violence, coercion, and intimidation. It would also teach how to identify and respond to attitudes and behaviors contributing to sexual violence and emphasize the importance of affirmative consent. Supporters of the bill said in order for young people to make “good choices,” they need help understanding the ramifications of their choices. They said comprehensive sexual health education provides this information and is essential to students' health, relationships, and meeting their life goals. Opponents said the decision to offer this type of education should lie with school boards and ultimately parents. Republicans opposed to the measure proposed more than a dozen amendments including proposals to block the classes from being taught to the youngest students. The amendments failed and the bill passed with a partisan 28-21 vote. Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-Mason County), who has joined Republicans in the past, was the only Democrat to vote agains the bill. The bill was sent to the House Education Committee for further cosideration.

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

Senate Bill 5689, Concerning harassment, intimidation, bullying, and discrimination in public schools. Passed the Senate on February 27, 2019 by a vote of 29-20.

Current law requires each school district to have a policy and procedures that prohibits harassment, intimidation, or bullying (HIB). School districts must designate a primary contact regarding the policy with certain responsibilities. Under this bill, school districts would have to adopt or amend such policies to specifically include transgender students. They would also have to designate a primary contact to oversee transgender policies and procedures. Debate on the bill went back and forth between Democrats, who said it was needed to protect certain students. Republicans called it state government interference in local school districts’ decisions and pointed out that rules against bullying already exist. They said the legislature should not keep adding new groups of protected students. The bill passed along 29-20 along close party lines, with one Democrat against, and one Republican in favor. It was sent to the House Education Committee for further consideration.

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

House Bill 1074, Increasing the minimum legal age of sale of tobacco and vapor products. Passed the House on February 20, 2019 by a vote of 66-30, two members excused.

This bill provides that a person who sells cigars, cigarettes, cigarette paper, tobacco, or vapor products to a person under the age of 21 would be guilty of a gross misdemeanor. In testimony during public hearings, supporters of the bill said that raising the legal age to 21 is the single most important policy to impact the health of youth. Opponents said this bill will be ineffective because of the many unregulated tribal stores and military bases in Washington. All the bill would do is push tobacco and vaping sales to the black market, and convenience stores would suffer due to lost sales, they said. ?The bill was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.

19 Rep. Brian Blake (Longview) (D) N

19 Rep. Jim Walsh (Aberdeen) (R) N

Senate Bill 5221, Concerning disclosure of contributions from political committees to other political committees. Passed the Senate on February 20, 2019 by a vote of 33-14, two members excused.

This bill would require that any electioneering communication or independent expenditure sponsored by a political committee must list the top five individuals or entities other than political committees which contributed at least $700 in aggregate to the sponsor during the 12 months before the advertisement is distributed. Proponents of the bill during committee hearings on the bill said that this would fix a loophole that obscures who actually pays for campaign mailers, which leads to more negative campaigning because advertising sponsors do not have to disclose who paid for the advertising, they said. Opponents said they have concerns about the mechanics of this bill, because it could lead to unintended consequences and less transparency. They said a better way would be to identify a threshold when a donor takes a certain amount of money from a single source to require disclosure. The bill was referred to the House State Government, Tribal Relations, and Elections Committee for further consideration.

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

House Bill 1149, Clarifying requirements to obtain a sexual assault protection order. Passed the House on February 20, 2019 by a vote of 81-14, three members excused.

This bill would remove the current requirement that a petitioner must allege reasonable fear of future dangerous acts when seeking a sexual assault protection order. Under existing law, sexual assault protection order petition must allege the existence of nonconsensual sexual conduct and must be accompanied by an affidavit stating the specific statements or actions which give rise to a reasonable fear of future dangerous acts. In a court case, the state supreme court interpreted this provision as requiring that a petitioner must allege and prove both that a sexual assault occurred and that the petitioner has a reasonable fear of future dangerous acts by the respondent. Supporters of the bill say that any victims of sexual violence are silenced by the legal requirement of alleging and proving statements and other acts that give rise to a reasonable fear of future dangerous acts. The bill was sent to the Senate Law and Justice Committee for further consideration.

19 Rep. Brian Blake (Longview) (D) Y

19 Rep. Jim Walsh (Aberdeen) (R) N

House Bill 1087, Concerning long-term services and supports. Passed the House on February 21, 2019 by a vote of 63-33, two members excused.

This bill would establish the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Program to provide persons who have paid into this program for a specific amount of time and who have been assessed as needing assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, medication administration, personal hygiene, or other health-related tasks. Beginning January 1, 2022 employees in Washington who are working at least 10 percent of full-time employment status would be assessed a premium of 0.58 percent of their wages to fund this program. The bill is headed to the Senate for further consideration.

19 Rep. Brian Blake (Longview) (D) Y

19 Rep. Jim Walsh (Aberdeen) (R) N

Senate Bill 5339, Eliminating the death penalty and instead requiring life imprisonment without possibility of release or parole for aggravated first degree murder. Passed the Senate on February 15, 2019 by a vote of 28-19, two members excused.

This bill provides that the death penalty would be eliminated, and all statutory procedures for imposing and carrying out a sentence of death would be repealed. It would impose a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of release or parole on a person convicted of aggravated first degree murder. Washington has had capital punishment of some form since the state’s territorial days. The current death sentence law was enacted in 1981, but Governor Inslee issued a moratorium on the execution of death sentences in 2014. The Washington Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that the way the death sentence was being carried out in the state is unconstitutional, but found that the death penalty as such is not unconstitutional. It left open the possibility that the Legislature could enact a carefully drafted law that would meet constitutional requirements. Instead, SB 5339 would eliminate the death penalty altogether. The bill is now headed to the House for further consideration.

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

Senate Bill 5145, Concerning the use of hydraulic fracturing in the exploration for and production of oil and natural gas. Passed the Senate on February 13, 2019 by a vote of 29-18, two members excused.

This bill would prohibit the use of hydraulic fracturing, a process that injects water into the ground under pressure to explore for oil and natural gas, commonly known as “fracking.” The proposed ban is meaningless since there is currently no oil and gas exploration in Washington. Still, Senate Republicans noted that fracking is effective and safe, and could be an energy-producing option in Eastern Washington areas. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, and Natural Resources.

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

House Bill 1175, Concerning authorization of health care decisions by an individual or designated person. Passed the House on February 14, 2019 by a vote of 71-25, two members excused.

National data shows that only 26 percent of citizens have an advance health care directive concerning their wishes for treatment. There are many people in hospitals who have not been able to prepare advance direction, and there are not enough people authorized by law to help make decisions for patients when a patient is incapacitated. This bill would expand the list of individuals who can give informed consent for treatment to include an unrelated adult who has exhibited care and concern for the patient; is familiar with the wishes and values of the patient; and is reasonably available to make health care decisions. The bill also includes procedural safeguards such as a requirement for a nonrelative to sign a declaration that there is a connection to the person. The bill is headed for the Senate for further consideration.

19 Rep. Brian Blake (Longview) (D) Y

19 Rep. Jim Walsh (Aberdeen) (R) N

House Bill 1066, Requiring debt collection complaints to be filed prior to service of summons and complaint. Passed the House on February 14, 2019 by a vote of 59-37, two members excused.

This bill would prohibit a collection agency from serving a debtor with a summons and complaint unless the summons and complaint have been filed with a Washington Superior Court and bear the case number assigned by the court. In testimony during committee hearings, supporters of the bill said requiring collection agencies to file the complaint before serving the defendant adds certainty and transparency to debt collection lawsuits. They said debtors are often confused when they receive a summons and complaint which contain no filing number from the court. Debtors who then do their due diligence and call the court to ask about the case are told there has been none filed and often disregard the service of process. Opponents of the bill said collection agencies provide an important service to businesses owed money, and singling them out in this bill shines a bad light on them. They said many debtors served with a summons and unfiled complaint fail to respond not because they are confused, but because they do not dispute the debt. The bill is now headed to the Senate for further consideration.

19 Rep. Brian Blake (Longview) (D) Y

19 Rep. Jim Walsh (Aberdeen) (R) N

Senate Bill 5001, Concerning human remains. Passed the Senate on February 6, 2019 by a vote of 36-11, two members excused.

This has been called the “Human Composting” bill, because it would include natural organic reduction as an allowable means of disposing of human remains. Natural organic reduction is the contained, accelerated conversion of human remains to soil, i.e. composting. Washington would be the first state in the country to allow composting of human remains. The bill would also legalize alkaline hydrolysis, which uses water, heat, and chemicals to produce a result that is similar to cremation without fire. SB 5001 was sent to the House, where similar legislation (HB 1162) is pending.

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

Senate Bill 5716, Defining when federal government employees are unemployed for purposes of unemployment insurance. Passed the Senate on February 6, 2019 by a vote of 39-8, two members excused.

This bill would provide that an employee of the federal government is considered unemployed in any week the individual is not receiving wages due to a government shutdown. This would make the employee eligible for state unemployment payments regardless of whether the individual is performing any services for federal government at any time during the week. These provisions would apply retroactively to December 22, 2018. The bill is now before the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee.

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

Senate Bill 5079, Enacting the Native American voting rights act of Washington. Passed the Senate on February 6, 2019 by a vote of 34-13, two members excused.

This bill would expand voter services on tribal lands in Washington. It would require county election officials to provide at least one ballot drop box on any Native American reservation, if requested by a tribe. It would also allow tribal members to use tribal identification cards and non-traditional addresses to register to vote. Non-traditional addresses could include a verbal description of a voter’s residence. The bill was sent to the House State Government, Tribal Relations, and Elections Committee.

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

House Bill 1490, Amending the application of the occupational disease presumption for cancer for Hanford site workers. Passed the House on February 7, 2019 by a vote of 67-29, two members excused.

This bill clarifies that the presumption established for certain cancers as an occupational disease would apply to an active or former U. S. Department of Energy Hanford site worker, even when he or she was not given a qualifying medical examination. This would assure the worker is eligible for workmen’s compensation under state industrial insurance laws. The bill is headed to the Senate for further consideration.

19 Rep. Brian Blake (Longview) (D) Y

19 Rep. Jim Walsh (Aberdeen) (R) N

House Bill 1014, Concerning financial responsibility of motorcycle operators. Passed the House on February 7, 2019 by a vote of 70-26, two members excused.

This bill would require that persons operating a motorcycle must meet the insurance or equivalent requirements for registered motor vehicles under current law. During hearings on the bill some people expressed concerns about the impact to motorcyclists who have never had insurance. They said it may be more difficult for younger or newer riders to obtain an insurance policy. They also pointed out that some of these riders are using a motorcycle as inexpensive transportation, and requiring insurance may create a financial hardship. New riders should be phased in to the insurance market, they said. The bill is headed to the Senate for further consideration.

19 Rep. Brian Blake (Longview) (D) Y

19 Rep. Jim Walsh (Aberdeen) (R) N

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