Today lawmakers in Olympia run up against another deadline in this short, 60-day legislative session in Washington state: All policy bills must pass out of their chamber of origin (i.e. the House or the Senate) by 5 pm or else face certain death.
Caveat: Lawmakers can revive dead bills by declaring them "necessary to implement the budget," a kind of trickery that tends to emerge as our faithful public servants haggle over votes in their final weeks of governing.
Worth noting: As they do every year, the Republicans made the task of passing bills more difficult by wasting a bunch of time "debating" bills. Last night, that strategy took the form of the House GOP spending several hours opposing a bill that restored the ability of Washington State's Department of Labor & Industries to protect workers from repetitive and other musculoskeletal disorders.
In any event, it's a good time to check in on The Stranger's big list of bills to track so we can see what politicians and lobbyists hacked up, kept whole, or killed.
🚨Could Die / Looking Dead 🚨
• HB 1806: A proposal authorizing people who work for the Legislature to unionize remains stuck in the House Rules committee, which means someone in "leadership" has some sort of problem with it. House Speaker Laurie Jinkins co-sponsored a similar (failed) 2019 proposal, but House Democratic Majority Leader Pat Sullivan did not. Nor did he co-sponsor a successful 2019 bill authorizing Assistant Attorneys General to collectively bargain, though he did vote for it once it hit the floor. In an email, Sullivan wouldn't say whether he supported HB 1806, but he did say it was still "under consideration." The current version of the bill features more support than it had last biennium, including all manner of moderates in both chambers, and it's unclear why Dems would be cool with letting lawyers unionize but not legislative assistants, security guards, nonpartisan staff, and the like. Update after cutoff: This bill is dead.
• HB 1904: The most consequential piece of tenant legislation on offer this year is scheduled for a vote on the House floor, but it could die. The bill would require landlords to give tenants six months' notice before rent hikes of over 7.5% and allow them to quit their lease in order to move, and also cap late fees at $75. If lawmakers are not going to consider rent stabilization legislation this year, which they're not, then this is the least they can do. Update after cutoff: Ded. Sorry, renters.
• HB 1156: With this proposal, Seattle Rep. Kirsten Harris-Talley wanted to authorize ranked-choice voting “for offices in counties, cities, towns, school districts, fire districts, and port districts." This thing looks ready for a floor vote, but one source said it might die. Update after cutoff: Yep, dead.
• HB 1727: The proposal to move all elections to dates with even years to potentially increase voter turnout is looking like it's on life support. It's on the floor calendar, but it'll die if it doesn't get a vote before 5. Update after cutoff: It did not get that vote, so it's d-e-a-d dead. The Democrats!
• HB 1067: The bill to designate the Suciasaurus rex as the official dinosaur of Washington is on the floor calendar, but it'd need to pass today. Update after cutoff: Dead. Or, I guess, still extinct.
• SB 5217/HB 1229: The proposal to ban assault weapons looks as dead as the Washingtonians who will die as a result of this inaction next year. Though a bill to ban the sale of "high-capacity" rounds is looking pretty good, this bill to ban one of the things that shoots them does not.
• SB 5426/HB 1406: Rep. Noel Frame's proposal to tax 1% of wealth over $1 billion was DOA this year — lawmakers rarely pass tax hikes during election years — but it's worth noting that over 2,500 people showed up to support the bill during public hearings, and it seems like Dems would at least want to get caught trying to tax comically rich people? Anyway, though this one could become necessary to implement the budget, it's looking done.
• SB 5752/HB 1861: A bill to set aside $3,200 in a trust for every Washington baby whose birth was covered by Medicaid looks very much dead despite bipartisan support among co-sponsors in the House. The proposal aimed to give poor kids a leg up to pay for college, a house, or opening a small business, but it'll have to wait at least another year.
• HB 1637: The Administrative Office of the Courts asked the Legislature to pass this one, which would add mental illness as one of the factors a judge can consider when doling out a sentence. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Tarra Simmons, said it's dead.
• HB 2009: Seattle Rep. Liz Berry's bill to create a basic income program for low-income households got a hearing a couple weeks ago, but that's all. Ded.
• HB 2017: Shoreline Rep. Lauren Davis thought it'd be cool to prevent landlords from categorically denying housing to people with previous arrest or conviction records, but not enough of her caucus felt strongly enough about the bill to even pass it out of committee. Ditto HB 2023, which would have allowed tenants to sue landlords under the Consumer Protection Act if the landlord wasn't abiding by basic duties, such as doing repairs or respecting a tenant's right to privacy before entering.
• HB 1202: The bill to end qualified immunity didn't even see the cold light of day this session, which gives you a sense of how Democrats are feeling about police accountability this year.
• HB 1690: Rep. Strom Peterson's bill to make courts reject evidence gathered from cops who lied to suspects during interrogations didn't make it out of the Public Safety Committee. Been done-zo.
• SB 5668/HB 1766: The Clean Heat Act aimed to reduce emissions from gas companies, but it's dead, so that's not going to happen.
• SB 5697: A bill to basically force the manufacturers of heavily polluting packaging to pay to clean up their messes instead of sticking taxpayers with the cleanup bill lays dying in the Senate's Ways & Means committee.
• HB 1433: Rep. Shelly Kloba's gold-standard data privacy bill is dead. Again. RIP.
• HB 1850: Rep. Vandana Slatter's data privacy bill, which isn't as protective as Kloba's but is better than anything the Senate came up with, looks dead.
🤡Hacked to Bits 🤡
• HB 1782: As Matt's been reporting on this here blog, Seattle Rep. Gerry Pollet and the Association of Washington Cities watered down Rep. Jessica Bateman's bill to sprinkle multifamily housing within 1/2 mile of high-frequency transit. The bill now drops the definition of “courtyard apartments” from six units down to four, reduces density requirements outside the 1/2 mile zone, and basically slows down the whole process. Over the weekend, Bateman said her newest version of the bill reduces the size of the upzones to 1/4 of a mile from high-frequency transit, and exempts cities with under 20,000 people from the bill. And though it looks ready for a floor vote, the bill still hasn't gotten one yet. 😬Update after cutoff: And it won't. It's dead. Here's the bill's intrepid sponsor on one of the reasons it failed:
Unfortunately, philosophic beliefs about “local control” are crippling our ability to take this necessary step. There is a real disconnect that limits fully appreciating the impact of our housing crisis & the necessary urgency of taking action. 6/7
— Rep. Jessica Bateman (@jessdbateman) February 16, 2022
• SB 5660: Lawmakers reduced a bill to legalize psilocybin mushroom treatment centers to a possible task force, as I reported early this month. If the task force is approved, hopefully it can write some of the rules necessary to implement the legislation if it comes up next year.
• HB 1706: The bill to let truckers use the restroom unanimously passed off the House floor on Sunday, but Ryan Johnson, the WA truck driver who brought the bill forward, called out a giant loophole. Bowing to pressure from the private companies that rent the ports, lawmakers accepted an amendment to only extend bathroom privileges on port property where truckers already have access or where no security/safety concerns exist. In an email, Johnson argued that port operators will use that amendment as an excuse not to install bathrooms. He added that safety concerns were legitimate in some cases but easily worked out, and pointed to easy bathroom access on commercial construction sites, which involve "hundreds more people working in a far tighter space, equipment running around everywhere, people stopping traffic/working in the street, and cranes hoisting materials over the whole site." In a text, Rep. Berry said she was aware of this issue and will work with colleagues in the Senate to fix it.
• SB 5919: Over the objections of families impacted by police violence, plenty of Democrats seemed more than happy to pass this proposal to give cops the ability to use physical force during all brief investigatory stops, including traffic stops, and to expand their ability to engage in vehicular pursuits. The Dems who wanted to roll back police accountability legislation from last year include Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, Seattle state Sen. Reuven Carlyle, and Sens. Annette Cleveland, Steve Conway, John Lovick, Mark Mullet, Emily Randall, Christine Rolfes, Jesse Salomon, and Kevin Van De Wege.
• HB 2037: In more police accountability rollback news, this bill to allow cops to use physical force to stop someone from running away from a Terry stop passed the House with a wiiiiide margin.
• HB 1719: This proposal to "fix" last year's bill about police tactics passed the House in January and shouldn't face any issues in the Senate. Soon, cops all over the state will be able to use less-lethal launchers and shotguns without fear of running afoul of state law.
• HB 1735: Rep. Jesse Johnson's bill clarifying that cops can use physical force to involuntarily commit someone passed the House with unanimous support in January and should move through the Senate without issue.
• SB 5078/HB 1164: The Senate passed this bill to ban "sale, manufacture, and distribution" of magazines that hold over 10 rounds on a party line vote, and the House should act on it Friday.
• HB 1705: Seattle Rep. Liz Berry's bill to close the ghost gun loophole passed the House last week on a party line vote, because Republicans are cool with people killing other people with untraceable guns. Law and order, baby.
• HB 1630: This bill from Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island) to prohibit open carry in government buildings and all carry at school board meetings and "election-related offices and facilities" passed the House on a party line vote on St. Valentine's Day, because Republicans believe the myth of a "good guy with a gun."
• SB 5838: A bill from Tacoma state Sen. T’wina Nobels to set aside state money to pay for diapers for kids under three years of age passed the Senate last week and seems to be movin' right along.
• SB 5546: Sen. Karen Keiser's proposal to temporarily limit the out-of-pocket cost of insulin to $35 for a month’s supply next year passed the Senate last week, with only state Sen. Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley) voting against it.
• HB 1660: A bill that legalizes accessory dwelling units statewide and prevents owner-occupancy requirements and other unnecessary restrictions narrowly passed the House yesterday. Democrats Lisa Callan, Steve Kirby, Bill Ramos, Alicia Rule, Tana Senn, Larry Springer, and Amy Walen voted against the bill because they apparently don't want to let you rent out your backyard cottage to a med student or something.
WA accessory dwelling bill HB 1660 just passed on the House floor by a 50 - 48 vote!
Big thanks to @DrShewmake for leading the charge, and to @davinaduerr and @RepGerryPollet for strengthening the bill in committee! https://t.co/K3vILjjZNW
— Dan Bertolet (@danbertolet) February 15, 2022
• SB 5749: State Sen. Yasmin Trudeau's bill to allow people to pay rent with a check passed the Senate earlier this month with unanimous approval. At least everyone can agree that we shouldn't let landlords profit from making it harder for old people to pay the rent.
• HB 1725: This proposal, sponsored by House Rep. Debra Lekanoff and requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, would create a hotline and an amber-alert protocol for missing indigenous women and persons. It passed off the House floor with unanimous support in January and is moving through the Senate.
• HB 1770: Bothell Rep. Davina Duerr's bill to make buildings more energy-efficient (now with a slightly longer timeline, thanks to an amendment adopted in committee) passed the House over the weekend 51 to 47. Dems who do not want to make buildings more energy-efficient in this way include Reps. Bronoske, Chapman, Leavitt, Paul, Rude, Rule, Springer, and Tharinger.
• HB 1914: A proposal to expand incentives for filmmakers to make more movies in Washington is scheduled for action later this week, and so it avoided the guillotine despite the floor cutoff deadline.
• SB 5560: Seattle state Sen. Jamie Pedersen's bill to clarify some language around the redistricting process to avoid potentially illegal clusterfucks of the kind that happened last fall passed the Senate with unanimous support earlier this month.
• SB 5528: Sen. Jamie Pedersen's proposal to let cities and other places tax themselves to make improvements to Sound Transit passed the Senate last Friday with bipartisan support, which is good news for people who want a chance to fight to speed up light rail construction.
• SB 5573: Sen. John Lovick's proposal to offer substance abuse treatment as an alternative to jail for DUIs when appropriate got tucked into SB 5054, a bill sponsored by state Sen. Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley). That bill increases the "look-back period" for DUIs from 10 years to 15 years and increases the penalty for three or more DUIs in that 15-year period from a gross misdemeanor to a felony.
This post has been updated to reflect the current status of the bills, mention how much time the House Republicans spent opposing worker protections last night, correct some framing around the "middle housing" bill, and correct the fact that lawmakers slipped SB 5573 into SB 5054. No one regrets any error more than I do.