Today, February 11th is the 30th day or halfway point in this year’s 60-day legislative session. The deadline for committee action on policy bills in the house of origin hit Friday, February 7th, and the next deadline is Tuesday, February 18th, the last day each house can act on its own policy bills.
During this Legislative Session, lawmakers in the House of Representatives considered two bills that would require employers to offer paid leave to workers.
HB 1313 would require employers with 5 or more employees to pay employees for 5, 7 or 9 days of sick leave per year, depending on the size of the company. This bill passed the House and will now be considered by the Senate.
With policy cutoff behind us the list of living and walking dead bills (nothing is really dead till sine die) is being compiled. Among the proposals that didn't even receive a hearing, however, is a bill based on WPC's recommendation for the Legislature to truly provide Washingtonians the opportunity to participate in the legislative debate while also ensuring lawmakers live by the same open government rules the rest of the state's public officials operate under.
In floor action on Wednesday, the House passed HB 2148, to require insurers who offer maternity coverage to also cover elective abortions, by a mostly party-line vote of 54-44, with one Republican voting for it, and two Democrats voting against. To see who voted “Yes” and who voted “No,” go to www.washingtonvotes.org and type in the bill number. The bill next goes to the Senate, but observers say chances for further action on the bill are slim.
House Bill 2782, introduced by Representatives Tarleton (D-36th) and Habib (D-48th) yesterday, would direct the Joint Transportation Committee to study the taxi, limousine, and rideshare industry and make recommendations regarding a state regulatory framework. The study would do the following:
Governor Jay Inslee last week proposed to spend an additional $600 million on K-12 education over the next three years by ending a number of tax breaks that are currently in effect. The targeted tax exemptions include a use-tax break on waste fuels from refineries; sales taxes on bottled water; a sales-tax break for out of state shoppers; a tax break on used-car trade-ins worth over $10,000; a sales-tax break for janitorial services; and a preferential business tax rate for resellers of prescription drugs.
Congestion relief is not a goal when public officials decide to build roads, but that may soon change. House Bill 2123 would re-establish congestion relief as a transportation policy goal, creating an official relationship between spending and relieving traffic congestion.
Washington currently has six transportation goals. They are:
Yesterday, at West Seattle’s Bethaday Community Center, I attended an important meeting of the Washington State Charter School Commission. At this historic meeting the Commission approved the first charter schools that will open their doors to students, since voters repealed the state’s charter school ban in 2012.
On Wednesday I testified on two bills that would help alleviate our state’s high teen unemployment rate. SB 6495 and SB 6471 would extend the current law that allows businesses to pay 14-15 year old workers a sub-minimum wage, to 16-19 year olds.
Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, drew heavy media attention when they spoke briefly before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday on competing gun-related measures, proposed initiatives 594 and 591.
Hundreds more lined up to be heard, and the overflow crowd was moved to the hallways and eventually to the House chamber where the hearing was broadcast on large video screens. The Senate Law and Justice Committee held a hearing on the two initiatives on Wednesday.
Governor Inslee and Speaker Chopp received awards from the Washington Coalition for Open Government this week (WPC serves on the WCOG board). Inslee received the Key Award for his pledge not to use executive privilege to deny public records requests.
Yesterday Washington Policy Center was invited to participate in a press conference at the Capitol highlighting the “Jobs Now” package of bills introduced in the House and Senate that would improve the state’s small business climate. Many of the bills highlighted in the press conference reflect long-standing WPC recommendations.