March 13th was the last day to consider bills in the house of origin, and many, many bills died on that date, some good, some bad. Those that had been passed in one house of the Legislature now go on to the other house for consideration. They now have until April 17th to hold hearings and take action in committee and get them to the floor for a vote.
The big exception to these deadlines is any bill that impacts the budget. Any so-called “policy” bill can be resurrected later if it impacts the budget. And the budget is one giant policy bill made up of numbers. They have all been waiting for the economic forecast on state tax revenue, that came out March 20th, and now will be getting budget bills together. Here’s an overview.
But let’s not get distracted with the budget now — that’s a rabbit hole from which we may never escape. I’ll try to make some sense of it in a future post.
Meanwhile, below are some significant bills that have survived cut-off and will be moving through (or not) the other chamber.
|J.O. = Rep. Jason Overstreet; V.B. = Rep. Vincent Buys; D.E. = Sen. Doug Ericksen;
J.M = Rep. Jeff Morris; K.L. = Rep. Kris Lytton; K.R. = Sen. Kevin Ranker
|42nd District||40th District|
|Workers’ compensation: Amends a year-old law allowing lump-sum settlements for workers’ compensation claims to apply to workers 40 years old, or older, rather than start at age 55. House Democratic leaders and Gov. Jay Inslee oppose the changes. Passed Senate 25-24 (SB 5128)||Y||N|
|Firearm-offender registry: Requires people convicted of felony firearm offenses to register with the county sheriff. The information would not be publicly available. Supported by law enforcement. Passed House 85-10 (HB 1612)Video of Rep. Mike Hope, (44th Republican) in favor.||N||Y||Y||Y|
|Abortion insurance: Private insurers would be required to cover abortions in health insurance policies if maternity care is covered. Currently all providers in the state do this, voluntarily. When the federal Affordable Care Act comes into effect in 2014, that might change. This bill would ensure coverage. Opponents say it would infringe on religious freedoms. Passed House 53-43 (HB 1044)||N||N||NV||Y|
|Wolf kills: Allows livestock and pet owners to shoot endangered gray wolves without a permit when the wolves are attacking or threatening their animals. Supporters say they have the right to protect their property. Opponents say it would hurt wolf recovery efforts. Passed Senate 25-23 (SB 5187)||Y||N|
|Grading schools: A-F grades would be assigned to schools based on factors including improvement of student test scores. Supporters say parents could get a clear sign of how a school is doing. Opponents insist it would be punitive and often unfair. Passed Senate 26-23 (SB 5328)||Y||N|
|Third-grade reading: Requires third-graders with inadequate reading skills to repeat a grade, attend summer school or otherwise improve their reading before enrolling in fourth grade. The measure also would authorize K-3 teacher training to help improve students’ reading, but not necessarily fund it. Opposed by teachers union. Passed Senate 35-13 (SB 5237)||Y||Y|
|Voting rights: Makes it easier for minorities to get elected to local government by encouraging court challenges to cities, counties and school districts to push them to switch from at-large to district elections where large minority groups are underrepresented. Passed House 53-44 (HB 1413) March 7, 5 pmRep. Luis Moscoso (Pro) Rep. Vincent Buys (Con)||N||N||Y||Y|
|Climate change: A stripped-down version of a measure championed by Inslee and Sen. Kevin Ranker to study the best practices for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions has advanced from the Senate. Under the bill, an outside consultant would review the state’s efforts to cut carbon emissions and similar endeavors elsewhere. Passed Senate 37-12 (SB 5802)Sens. Ericksen and Ranker||Y||Y|
|Dream Act: House Democrats and Republicans approved a measure that makes young illegal immigrants eligible for college financial aid. Lawmakers amended the bill on the floor to broaden its scope beyond young immigrants granted a temporary stay in the country under an Obama administration plan. The bill follows a law approved 10 years ago that made illegal-immigrant students eligible for in-state tuition if they met certain criteria. A similar bill died in the Senate. Passed House 77-20 (HB 1817)Rep Charles Ross (pro) and Rep. Jason Overstreet (con)||N||N||Y||Y|
|Nonparental visitation: Grandparents-rights advocates are championing this bill to make it easier for a third party enjoying a substantial relationship with a child to get visitation rights. Decision on rights would be made by the court. Opponents say it threatens parental rights. Passed House 56-40 (HB 1934)Rep Terry Nealey (pro) and Rep. Jason Overstreet (con)||N||N||Y||Y|
|Early Learning Opportunities: Creates a legislative task force and technical working group to examine options for creating an accessible, integrated, high quality, and community based early learning program for children and their families. Passed House 59-38 (HB 1723)||N||N||Y||Y|
|Citizens United: Requesting an amendment to the United States Constitution to return the authority to regulate election campaign contributions to congress and state legislatures. Passed House 55-42 (HJM 4001)||N||N||Y||Y|
|Granting Water Rights: Requires Dept. of Ecology to initiate a process to allow berry farmers changes to their water rights outside the normal application process. To qualify, farmers have to be using their water right in the place or number of acres inconsistent with their current water right, and have a change application on file when the bill is passed. Limited to farmers using efficient drip-irrigation methods. Also limited to counties that have at least 6,000 acres in raspberry production, to effect only farmers in Whatcom County. Passed Senate 39-7 (SB 5199)||Y||Y|
You can look up other bills and view the voting record of each legislator HERE.