Lawmakers in Olympia hit a key deadline Wednesday, by which they had to pass bills unrelated to the budget out of their original chambers. Here’s a look at where things stand.
OLYMPIA — Washington lawmakers are more than halfway through the regularly scheduled 105-day legislative session, and so far have approved hundreds of bills that touch on all areas of life, including ambitious health-care and clean-energy proposals, housing legislation, proposals to raise the smoking age, implement a plastic-bag ban and tighten rules on school-vaccination exemptions.
But whether those bills ultimately get to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature is another question. Lawmakers hit a key deadline Wednesday, by which they had to pass bills unrelated to the budget out of their original chambers.
Here’s a look at where things stand:
Signed into law
Police deadly force: Last month, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill amending Initiative 940, the measure voters passed in November making it easier to prosecute police officers for negligent shootings. The bill updates the standard for prosecution, alters requirements for police to render first aid, and requires the state to reimburse an officer’s legal fees if the officer is acquitted. The changes were supported by backers of the initiative and by police groups.
Presidential primary: A measure to move the state’s presidential primary from May to March passed the Legislature days after Inslee kicked off his presidential campaign.
Reservation voting: County officials must establish at least one ballot drop box on any tribal reservation if requested by the tribe. The legislation also allows tribal members to register to vote using tribal identification cards and nontraditional addresses, including a narrative description of the location of a voter’s residence.
Bump-stock buyback: A bill funding a bump-stock buyback program. Washington legislators banned the rapid-fire devices in 2018 and established a buyback program at the same time, following the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting. They neglected to allocate money for the buybacks in the budget that year.
Public health care: Two bills requested by Inslee to create a limited public option have cleared each chamber. Dubbed “Cascade Care,” the proposals would require the state to contract with a private insurer to offer plans with capped administrative costs and doctors’ fees. Backers hope that would translate into competitive premiums. The Senate, meanwhile, passed a bill to study how to create a universal health-care system for the state.
Smoking age: A proposal to raise the state’s smoking and vaping age to 21 awaits action in the state Senate after passing the House. The bill would target traditional tobacco and “vape” products, including e-cigarettes and other vapor devices, as well as vape products that don’t contain nicotine.
Presidential tax returns: The Senate passed a proposal to require presidential candidates to disclose five years of tax returns before their names can appear on the state ballot. The state attorney general has said the proposal is probably constitutional, but would definitely face a court challenge. The House is yet to act.
Plastic bag ban: A proposed ban on plastic bags has passed the Senate and awaits action in the House. The proposal would ban single-use plastic carryout bags and require retailers to charge for recycled or reusable bags, in an effort to fight plastic pollution. Bags given out inside stores for things like loose parts, bulk foods, and fruits and vegetables would be exempt.
Daylight saving time: Two proposals to put the state on permanent daylight saving time have advanced, with House and Senate versions of the idea gaining approval in their respective chambers. Even if the Legislature says yes, congressional approval would be needed.
Clean energy: The centerpiece of Inslee’s climate agenda passed the Senate the same day Inslee kicked off his presidential campaign. The measure would require utilities to eliminate coal as an energy source by the end of 2025 as the first step toward the goal of utilities providing carbon-free electricity by 2045. The House has not acted.
Transportation fuels: Another bill supported by Inslee would require fuel producers and importers to reduce the carbon emissions associated with transportation fuels. That measure has passed the House and awaits action in the Senate.
Vaccine exemptions: The House has advanced a measure seeking to remove parents’ ability to claim a personal or philosophical exemption to requirements for children to receive measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. The Senate — which had introduced a broader bill for any required school vaccinations — has said it will take up the House bill and likely amend it. A measles outbreak has sickened 73 people in the state, all but one in Clark County.
Youth risk orders: A proposal to expand extreme risk protection orders to include minors was approved by the Senate. The bill, proposed as a way to prevent school shootings, would allow courts to issue orders banning minors’ access to weapons. It has received bipartisan support.
Death penalty: A measure to remove the death penalty from state law passed the Senate and awaits action in the House. The move comes after the state’s Supreme Court unanimously struck down capital punishment as arbitrary and racially biased. The legislation would make that court ruling permanent by removing capital punishment as a sentencing option for aggravated murder.
Long-term care: A proposal for a new employee-funded program that would create a benefit to help offset long-term-care costs was approved by the House and awaits Senate consideration. Under the proposal, premiums of 0.58 percent of wages would start being collected from employees on Jan. 1, 2022. Starting Jan. 1, 2025, people who need assistance with at least three “activities of daily living” such as bathing, dressing or administration of medication, could tap into the fund.
Hanford health: A bill to amend a 2018 law regarding Hanford workers who contract cancer has passed the House and awaits action in the Senate. The bill passed last year said workers could claim compensation for cancer if a medical exam when they started work at Hanford showed no evidence of cancer. This year’s proposal waives the proof of no cancer at the start of employment if a medical exam was not given at the time of hiring.
Mental health: A plan from Inslee for a statewide network of regional mental-health facilities has passed the House and awaits action in the Senate. The proposal would begin the process of shifting civil mental-health treatment capacity from the state’s two central facilities to smaller, community-level facilities.
Data privacy: A bill that would let consumers find out what data businesses have on them — and get it deleted it on request — passed the Senate, but the House has not yet acted. Affecting businesses that hold data on more than 100,000 people, the proposal would allow consumers to find out what information about them has been stored and request corrections or erasure. The bill also sets rules for facial-recognition technology.
Condo liability: A proposal to reform liability laws regarding condominium construction defects has passed the Senate. That bill is aimed at easing the affordable-housing crisis by making it easier to build condos.
Eviction notices: Lawmakers passed a trio of bills aimed at reducing evictions, one of the leading causes of homelessness in the state. The House and Senate passed measures to extend the pay-or-vacate notice period from three days to 14 days, to allow tenants more time to catch up on rent. The House also passed a bill to require that landlords notify tenants 120 days in advance if they plan to demolish the residence.
Tiny homes: A bill passed the Senate that would make it easier for tiny houses to be built in cities and towns. That measure is geared toward boosting affordable housing.
Non-compete contracts: A proposal to ban non-compete contracts for workers making less than $100,000 per year cleared the state Senate. A push by Amazon was partly behind the lowering of the threshold, which started out around $180,000; the lower threshold exempts many of Amazon’s Seattle employees, along with other high-paid tech workers.
Sentencing reform: A bill to create a task force to recommend changes for Washington’s overly complex computation of criminal sentences has not advanced, but could be folded into the forthcoming state operating budget. The proposal comes as the state Department of Corrections has struggled for years to make sure prisoners are held to accurate sentences. The department is currently reviewing up to 3,500 cases after at least a dozen inmates were released too early or held too long after new issues were discovered.
Public records: A Senate bill that sought to set limits on what the legislative branch needs to release under public-disclosure laws stalled in committee. Two House bills that would limit the time frame of records that could be released never received a public hearing.
Sexual harassment: House lawmakers have not introduced legislation to create an independent office to receive and review harassment complaints as an internal work-group had recommended. A measure that would have required all three branches of state government to track and submit data regarding sexual harassment of employees never came up for a vote in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, four Washington lawmakers have either lost an election or resigned in the past year amid sexual- misconduct allegations.
Assault-weapons ban: For at least the seventh year in a row, a proposal to ban assault weapons, including semi-automatic rifles, appears to have stalled. Democratic committee chairs declined to schedule either of a pair of bills advancing the measure for preliminary hearings or votes.
High-capacity magazines: Two proposals to ban high-capacity gun magazines were voted out of their policy committees but didn’t reach full votes in either the Senate or House after Democrats, who control the floor voting schedules, left both off.
Dwarf tossing: A proposal aimed at prohibiting dwarf-tossing events in bars and nightclubs failed to reach a floor vote in the Senate.