House Democrats drop emergency powers bill, pass gun magazine restrictions
House Democrats abruptly pulled the gubernatorial emergency powers bill from the floor late Thursday night, saying there was not enough time to debate the bill ahead of Friday’s legislative cut-off deadline. SB 5909, sponsored by Senate Democrats, passed the Senate by a mostly partisan 29-20 vote last month.
Lawmakers from both parties said that the bill, as drafted, did not go far enough in curbing the powers invoked by Governor Inslee to issue mandates without legislative input for more than two years. Republicans offered a number of amendments to the bill that would give the legislative branch more authority during emergencies, as most states across the country provide.
They said they were prepared to debate the bill at length, but House majority leaders removed the measure from further consideration. The bill appears dead for this year, but Senator John Braun (R-Centralia), the Republican Leader, said that: "I don’t think anything is done until the end of session.” “But there has been a reluctance by the Democratic majorities to bring this bill up,” he added.
On Friday, House Democrats brought the controversial bill to ban large-capacity gun magazines to the floor. SB 5078, which would ban the manufacture, sale, or transfer of firearm magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition, was first introduced during the 2021 session, but did not advance before that session ended.
It passed the Senate last month by a partisan 28-20 vote after lengthy debate on dozens of amendments. After hours of sometimes heated debate, including on some twenty amendments—none of which were adopted, the House passed the measure along partisan lines by a 55-42 vote.
Governor Inslee said he would sign the measure into law, which would take effect on July 1st of this year. Opponents of this restriction on gun rights said the issue is likely to go to the courts.
A bi-partisan effort to correct what was seen as an overreach in police-use-of-force legislation signed into law last year passed the Senate on Friday, in time for the latest legislative cut-off deadline.
HB 2037 would change existing law to permit the use of force, if necessary, to detain someone as part of an investigation. It passed the House on February 12th, by a broad, bi-partisan margin of 87-11. Led by 21 votes from the Republican caucus, the bill passed the Senate by a 32-16 margin.
Following the vote, the leading Republican behind the effort, Senator Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley) said : “Our communities are at risk, and many citizens are now starting to realize that the 2021 session policies are jeopardizing the safety of the public. Fortunately, we were able to secure enough Democratic votes to get this important change across the finish line and to the governor’s desk.”
After last Friday’s deadline, about 285 policy bills are now still eligible for consideration, in addition to budget and budget related matters. This year’s session is scheduled to end today, Thursday, March 10th.
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