State lawmakers were busy last week acting on bills before the whole House and Senate in lengthy floor sessions. They have until Wednesday, March 13, to pass bills in their originating chambers. Thereafter they can only act on measures passed by the other house, with the exception of state budget-related matters.
So far this session, some 500 bills have passed at least one house, but only one bill has actually been signed into law. Most of the bills are passing by large majority or unanimous votes, but some of the legislation acted on last week was more contentious.
District 10 legislators are Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor; Rep. Dave Paul, D-Oak Harbor; and Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton. District 39 legislators are Sen. Keith Wagner, R-Sedro-Woolley; Rep. Robert Sutherland, R-Granite Falls; and Rep. Carolyn Eslick, R-Sultan.
WashingtonVotes’ picks for the week’s bills of interest are:
House Bill 1638: Concerns promoting immunity to vaccine-preventable diseases. Passed the House on March 5 by a vote of 57-40, one member excused. Paul voted yes; Smith, Eslick and Sutherland voted no.
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.
Senate Bill 5273: Concerning the presidential primary. Passed the House on March 4 by a vote of 54-42, two members excused. Paul voted yes; Smith, Eslick and Sutherland voted no.
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 primaries are held 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.
Senate Bill 5811: Aims to reduce fuel emissions by making changes to the clean car standards and clean car program. Passed the Senate on March 4 by a vote of 26-22, one member (Wagoner) excused. Bailey voted no.
This bill would impose California’s automobile emission rules on vehicle owners in Washington state. 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.
Senate Bill 5323: Reduces pollution from plastic bags by establishing minimum state standards for the use of bags at retail establishments. Passed the Senate on March 5 by a vote of 31-14, four members excused. Bailey and Wagoner voted no.
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 Jan. 1. 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 was first proposed in 2013.
The bill was sent to the House Environment and Energy Committee for further consideration.
Senate Bill 5861: Extends respectful workplace code of conduct provisions to all members of the legislative community. Passed the Senate on March 6 by a vote of 29-18, two members excused. Bailey and Wagoner voted no.
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 Public 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.