Olympia Update February 19th

By Franz Wiechers-Gregory, WA Policy Center

Feb 19, 2020

After a slow start to this year’s legislative session, state lawmakers are scrambling this week to pass hundreds of bills by Wednesday 5:00 p.m. cut-off deadline. Bills that are not voted out of their originating chamber will be dead for this year’s session and for the 2019-20 legislative cycle, barring a special session or extraordinary parliamentary maneuver.

In marathon floor sessions lasting late into the evening, including a rare Sunday session in the House, lawmakers have approved and sent to the opposite chamber more than 500 bills so far. Nearly 250 additional measures are scheduled for action on today’s floor calendars.

After today’s deadline, House and Senate committees have until Friday, February 28th to consider policy bills that have been sent to them by the opposite house, and until Monday, March 2nd to act on budget and transportation measures. The deadline for action by the full House and Senate on all but budget-related bills is Friday, March 6th. This year’s 60-day session is scheduled to adjourn on March 12th, just three weeks from now.

Among important bills passed this week are:

•    Senate Bill 6278, which would effectively ban the use of municipal water for production of commercial bottled water, declaring such use as “detrimental to the pubic welfare and public interest.” The bill passed 28-20.

•    House Bill 1694, which would restrict landlord-tenant arrangements by mandating that renters be allowed to pay customary first- and last-month rental deposits in installments. The bill passed 54-44.

•    House Bill 2311, which would, among other provisions, require state agencies to set a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050. Current law sets greenhouse gas emission limits for state agencies by 2050 at 57.5 percent below 2005 levels, or 70 percent below emissions expected for that year. Greenhouse gas emissions from state agencies represent about one percent of total carbon emissions statewide. The bill passed 55-41.

•    Senate Bill 6288, which would create an Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention within the state Department of Commerce. The bill would authorize the new office to contract for and fund a variety of programs, including a statewide helpline and referral service for gun violence victims and their professional services providers, and for a best practices guide for therapy to gun violence victims. The bill passed 25-23.

•    House Bill 2870, which would establish a Marijuana Social Equity Program to authorize the Liquor and Cannabis Board to issue previously forfeited, cancelled, and revoked marijuana retailer licenses to applicants disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of marijuana prohibition laws.  A "disproportionately impacted area" is a census tract or comparable geographic area with a high rate of poverty and unemployment; participation in income-based or state programs; and arrest, conviction, and incarceration related to the sale, possession, use, cultivation, manufacture or transport of cannabis. The bill passed 55-41.

•    House Bill 2567, which would prohibit arrests by immigration enforcement authorities, which are defined as “civil arrests,”  inside or near state court facilities. It would also prohibit judges, court staff, court security personnel, and prosecutor's office staff from inquiring into or collecting immigration or citizenship status information.  The bill passed 55-43.

To see which lawmakers voted “Yes” and “No” on these and to track other bills of interests, visit washingtonvotes.org and key in the bill number or a keyword.