Trolls are not welcome in Washington State. Patent trolls, that is. The Senate this week passed Senate Bill 5059, called the “Patent Troll Prevention Act,” to strengthen consumer protection statutes and allow the Office of the Attorney General to bring action against a company which violate patent rules.
More than 800 of the 2,311 legislative measures introduced to date failed to survive last Friday’s deadline for passing non-budget bills out of committee. Barring extraordinary circumstances, these bills will not see action this year.
This leaves 1,489 bills for lawmakers to consider before the next legislative deadline on March 11th, the day on which either the House or the Senate must pass a bill for it to survive, except for measures related to the budget or transportation.
Today, February 20th, is the deadline for committees to pass non-budget bills to keep them moving through the House and Senate, creating a flurry of activity to meet the first of a series of legislative cut-off dates.
After today, lawmakers can introduce no more non-budget bills this year, except through special parliamentary rules that would require the consent of a majority of legislators.
This week is the deadline for the state House and Senate to pass bills in most policy committees. Any non-budget bill not passed in committee by the end of Friday will be considered dead for the year. Bills that affect the 2015-17 budget are exempt from the “cut-off” deadline. If there are enough votes, however, lawmakers can revive any measure later through special parliamentary procedures
With just over a week until the deadline for passing bills out of committee, lawmakers are busy with a full schedule of committee hearings, bills, and amendments under consideration. Any non-budget bill that does not see action by the deadline will likely be dead for the year.
State Senator Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale), chairman of the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, announced an energy bill Wednesday to encourage carbon emission reductions, while creating jobs and avoiding new taxes.
Five senators, three Republicans and two Democrats, joined Senator Ericksen in a news conference announcing the new bill.
Tuesday’s public hearing on HB 1314 before the House Environment Committee, Governor Inslee’ sweeping cap-and-trade tax proposal, drew overflow crowds as hundreds of supporters and opponents packed the main hearing room and three overflow rooms, where the crowd could follow the proceedings on TV.
After taking testimony from about three dozen people, the hearing was adjourned. The meeting will be continued on Thursday, January 29 starting at 8:00 am in House Hearing Room B, John L O’Brien Building, Olympia.
With session entering its 12th day, lawmakers continue to introduce bills, proposing over 1,200 to date, while spending much of their working days in committee meetings and hearings. So far, the House has passed 14 bills out of committee, dealing with topics ranging from anti-freeze products to locksmith services.
Among the nearly 1,000 bills and resolutions introduced by lawmakers so far are a number of proposed amendments to the state constitution. These are introduced as House or Senate Joint Resolutions, which, if passed by a two-thirds vote of both houses, would be submitted to a vote of the people in the coming November election. If a majority of voters approve, the proposed amendment becomes part of the state constitution.
With the pomp and circumstance of opening ceremonies behind it, the 64th Legislature has settled in for the long haul, with lawmakers introducing bills and working through daily rounds of committee meetings.
Governor Inslee, in his State of the State address before the legislature Tuesday, doubled down on his sweeping proposals for a 15% increase in state spending and new taxes, including a capital gains tax on state residents.
He also welcomed new lawmaker Rep. Carol Gregory (D-Federal Way) who was appointed to replace Rep. Roger Freeman (D-30th District) who died while in office.
Court-mandated basic education funding will occupy center stage when the 64th Legislature convenes at noon Monday for what many observers see as one of the most important sessions in memory.
Top priorities include a voter-approved class size reduction measure and a comprehensive transportation package. Above all, a new two-year budget will dominate the 105-day regular session, with possibly special sessions to follow.