State lawmakers pass bump-stock ban, financial aid for undocumented students, and car tax relief bills.

By FRANZ WIECHERS-GREGORY  | 
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Jan 26, 2018

Late Thursday evening, lawmakers passed SB 5992 to ban trigger modification devices that allow legal semi-automatic firearms to simulate automatic weapons fire. Automatic weapons, or machine guns, are tightly restricted or outlawed under current federal and state laws.

The ban would make it illegal for anyone in Washington to manufacture or sell bump stocks beginning July 1, 2018. In July 2019, it would become illegal to own or possess a bump stock in Washington, which means current owners of such devices would have to turn them in to law enforcement or destroy them.

The action was prompted by last October’s shooting in Las Vegas.

Four Republicans joined with Democrats to pass the measure. The final vote was 29 to 20.  In debate, opponents said the ban was an infringement on gun rights and expressed concern that current owners of bumps stocks in Washington will have to surrender the devices beginning in 2019.

Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said: “Clearly this is the first gun seizure in the state of Washington, because if you are found in possession you are a felon.” Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale agreed, warning that the ban could lead to police entering the homes of otherwise law-abiding citizens to seize the devices.

The bill now goes before the House for further consideration.

Senate Bill 5074 would make students in this state who came to this country illegally as children eligible for state financial aid to pay for college. Currently, students without legal immigration status are not eligible for federal financial aid.

Under the bill, which passed 38-11 on Wednesday, students who have been here for at least three years before earning a high school diploma would qualify for the College Bound scholarship program available to low-income Washington students. It would include those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status and also establishes that the term nonresident student does not pertain to certain visa holders that meet other statutory requirements regarding residency. The bill is now before the House Education Committee for consideration.

Also on Wednesday, the state House of Representatives voted 60-37, to approve HB 2201, which would provide some relief from Sound Transit’s expensive car-tab fees. The bill passed the House last year, but did not receive further action in the Senate before the legislature adjourned. It seeks to ease the impact of car tab fees imposed by Sound Transit, after voters within the Sound Transit boundaries in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties approved a $54 billion “ST3” expansion measure in November of 2016. The problem involves the valuation of vehicles by Sound Transit, which in most instances is higher than the true market value of cars.

The bill provides that Sound Transit must establish a market value that reflects more realistic vehicle values, such as Kelly Blue Book, and provide a credit against tax due equal to the tax under current law, minus the tax that would be due as a result of the value adjustment program. The program must allow credits retroactively to the date that Sound Transit first imposed the new motor vehicle tax. The bill was referred to the Senate Transportation Committee for further consideration.

Keep up to date with the action in Olympia by visiting washingtonvotes.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter #waleg.