mpt
THE GOOD

House Bill 1877: Ban disposable shopping bags

The days of free plastic shopping bags—the sort that fill waterways and landfills with zillions of toxic particles—are numbered. Bellingham, Mukilteo, Edmonds, and Seattle all banned plastic shopping bags this year, to the chagrin of the plastic bag industry. Now a bill from freshman representative Joe Fitzgibbon, who represents West Seattle, would ban all disposable shopping bags (paper and plastic) from retail stores across the state. There would be exceptions for recycled bags. Sorry, plastic lobby, filling the ocean and landfills with the state's estimated two million plastic bags per year is not an American right.

HB 1217: Slow the fuck down on neighborhood streets

Turns out the state makes it very expensive to lower a speed limit—who knew?—and this bill, technically, just makes it a lot cheaper to do so. But HB 1217's broader impact could be huge for cyclists and pedestrians, says Craig Benjamin, director of policy and government affairs for the Cascade Bicycle Club, because "lots of cities would love to lower their speed limits on nonarterial streets, but right now they have to do a costly state-approved engineering and traffic study first." By eliminating that study requirement, this bill would help spur cash-strapped cities (like Seattle) to build more bicycle-friendly greenways. Which is great for everyone because, as Benjamin points out, a person who gets hit by a car going 20 miles per hour has a 5 percent chance of dying, while at 30 miles per hour, that chance of dying spikes to 45 percent. This bill died in the senate last year. This year, with more senate support and even AAA behind the measure, backers—including Cindy Ryu (D-32) and Jamie Pedersen (D-43)—smell victory.

Senate Bill 6239: Legalize gay marriage

Duh.

HB 2330: Affordable abortions for all

This smart, lady-friendly bill sponsored by Representative Eileen Cody of West Seattle would require all health-insurance policies sold in Washington State that offer maternity coverage to also cover abortions. In the last year, 13 states have restricted women's access to insurance-covered abortions. Washington would be the only state to buck that national trend.

SB 6265: Protecting pot patients

Last spring, Governor Chris Gregoire had the chance to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest and allow dispensaries by signing a law passed by the legislature. Instead, she vetoed most of it. Even worse, Gregoire claimed she did it to avoid federal prosecutions of state employees—an excuse that legal experts widely called bogus. So now Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, who represents Northwest Seattle, is back at it again with a new, slightly tweaked bill that takes state employees out of the licensing business for medical marijuana cooperatives (to address Gregoire's debunked concerns). Mellow enough for you now, Chris?

HB 2563: Tax the rich!

Tacoma representative Laurie Jinkins's proposal to tax capital gains (mostly profit from selling stocks, bonds, and real estate) is a no-brainer. This 5 percent tax on capital gains over $10,000 would raise $500 million a year for the state while impacting only the wealthiest 3 percent of Washington households. That would help our state's perpetual budget shortfalls and help level the playing field between the rich and poor, in which the wealthiest 1 percent currently pay a lower tax rate than the bottom 20 percent. Important footnote: It wouldn't tax retirement savings or inheritances, or profits from the sale of a primary residence or farmland. But, you know, it's a tax. So good luck with that.

THE BAD

HB 2200: Psychological warfare on pregnant women

This condescending pro-life bill, championed by Representative John Ahern (R-Spokane), would force physicians to describe "the anatomical and physiological characteristics of [an] unborn child" to all women seeking abortions because, as the bill helpfully explains, most women don't really understand what abortions are. (We routinely overhear women ordering double-stack abortions at Burger King. Words are so confusing!)

HB 1950: The Steal the White House Act

This is part of a national conspiracy to game the Electoral College to the Republicans' advantage. Sponsored by Representative Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley), this bill is one of many measures being selectively introduced in legislatures nationwide that would assign presidential electors proportionately by congressional district in blue states, while leaving red states winner-take-all. The result? A virtual GOP lock on the White House. Assholes.

HB 2428: Charter schools

As in comedy, timing is everything in politics, which is what makes Southeast Seattle representative Eric Pettigrew's charter schools bill all the more regrettable. When the state supreme court unanimously ruled earlier this month that the state was underfunding K–12 education by as much as $8.9 billion per biennium, Democrats could've seized upon the ruling as a rallying cry for more education spending. Instead, we're wasting time talking about charter schools, which use public money to fund private schools with their own zany rules. It's a reform thrice rejected by voters and with no track record of improving average educational outcomes.

SB 6286: Bite Democrats in the ass

We know why Senator Adam Kline (D-Seattle) is filing this measure: He's pissed about Republican attorney general Rob McKenna's lawsuit against President Obama's health-care-reform law. Hey, so are we. Kline's bill would put limits on what lawsuits future attorneys general can file without being "requested to do so by a state officer with authority over the subject matter." Which sounds like a good idea until you imagine a day when, say, Rob McKenna is governor and a Democratic attorney general wants to file a lawsuit that McKenna doesn't like. (In other words, this bill is hopelessly shortsighted.)

THE FUCKING NUTS

HB 2099: Sawed-off shotguns!

If there's one thing we could use more of here in Washington State, it's short-barreled shotguns and rifles, at least according to Representative Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen), whose bill would lift the state's current absolute ban on possession of such weapons. Oy.

HB 2202 and HB 1514: License plates about guns and God!

These bills, sponsored by Representative Dean Takko (D-Longview) and Representative Jim McCune (R-Graham), respectively, would add National Rifle Association (NRA) and "In God We Trust" license plates to the roster of specialty plates people can tack onto their minivans. (That way, if the rapture happens during a family road trip, He'll know where to find you!)

HB 2382: Emergency guns!

This legislation, also introduced by Representative McCune, aims to put guns back where they belong: in public places during times of extreme crisis. As it now stands, if shit hits the fan—say terrorists bomb the Jackson Federal Building—and the governor declares a state of emergency, she has the power to prohibit people from carrying firearms or other deadly weapons "in a place other than that person's residence or business." This bill would scratch that provision and make it legal for gun-toting motherfuckers to run around in public armed with their personal arsenals. What could be safer than that?

HB 2629: Refuse to let the SPD cooperate with the Feds

Here's a conflict of interest: Mike Hope, a Seattle Police Department officer who moonlights as a Republican representative in a district northeast of Everett, is capitalizing on his legislative post to oppose accountability AT HIS DAY JOB. Presumably, he takes issue with the recent US Department of Justice report that finds Seattle cops are using excessive force and need to adopt new practices. Hope's bill would prevent SPD—and other police departments across the state—from adopting new use-of-force policies prescribed by the Feds unless they are "expressly required or authorized by an act of Congress." At least one brave, armed man is willing to thwart justice—no matter how fucking nuts it makes him look. recommended