Support Public Service Journalism

House floor session and debates on bills for the week of Feb. 22nd

This week is a big one for floor action in the House and Senate, Tuesday was the start of a two-week stretch of floor debate in both chambers. These bills make it to the floor after passing out of committees controlled by the Democratic majority. but that doesn’t mean that they will pass the floor as easily. In the early part of session, legislators typically bring less controversial bills to the floor that pass with bipartisan majorities. But some bills still attract significant debate before they pass.

Here is a round-up of the bills that had the most debate during the floor sessions this week:

Tuesday, February 23rd: 

HB 1009

Topic: Concerning Student Health Plans

Sponsors: Thai, Slatter

Vote: 57-40-0-1

What the bill does: Requires certain student health plans to provide coverage for the voluntary abortion of a pregnancy.

The Debate:

Votes against bill by members of the majority: None

For:

  • Rep. My-Linh Thai (D, 41st District)

I felt that it is critically important that the students who set on the path to learn, to acquire knowledge, to advance in their professional development. That is where they should focus. They shouldn’t have to worry about their health care and their health coverage.”

Against:

  • Rep. Vicki Kraft (R, 17th District)

As the good lady noted, students when they’re in school, they go to focus on their education and if they should become pregnant and the bill passes, abortions would be easier to attain because the cost of the abortion and the ease of having one would be more readily available…. The good lady also noted that women’s wellness was a part of this bill. I would argue that this also, if it passes, has the potential to harm women’s wellness. Studies have shown that when women have abortions, when young girls have abortions there’s the potential for more depression and suicide. If they have a chemical abortion there’s real potential side effects and those could be damaging.”

HB 1050

Topic: Reducing greenhouse gasses emissions from fluorinated gases.

Sponsors: Fitzgibbon, Ortiz-Self

Vote: 56-40-0-2

What the bill does: Authorizes the Department of Ecology to establish a maximum global warming potential threshold for hydrofluorocarbons used in new stationary air conditioning and refrigeration. It also directs the department to establish a global warming potential threshold for new ice rinks and to establish a refrigerant management program to address refrigerant emissions from large air conditioning and refrigeration systems. Applies certain existing regulations addressing emissions of ozone-depleting substances to hydrofluorocarbons. Establishes a state purchasing and procurement preference for recycled refrigerants. 

The Debate:

Votes against party majority: Rep. Rule (D.)

For:

  • Rep. Alex Ramel (D, 40th district):

Madame Speaker, you may know that I’m excited about the opportunity that highly efficient heat pumps present to reduce energy use and clean up that sector of our economy. So when we heard those concerns raised I was a little bit nervous that we might be looking at a trade off between two different sectors trying to figure out a way to balance those things. So I did a little homework and I reached out to the Air Conditioning and Refrigerating Institute to better understand how this would affect the businesses and how this would land on those that we’re asking to make these changes. Now see there is good news, that there really isn’t a trade off. The chemicals that this bill askes folks to begin to shift to are not more expensive, the equipment is not different. And so what we’re asking folks to do is effectively implement best practices. There’s no additional cost associated with this.”

  • Rep. Strom Peterson (D, 21st District)

When I moved here just over 20 years ago, I don’t know how incredible the agriculture industry was in Washington State. Coming from the Southwest you hear about our great apples and great potatoes. But I learned that Washington has a more diverse crop yield than any other state in the country. And we know that the reason that we grow these great crops is because of our climate. And if we’re not addressing climate change, that type of biodiversity is going to drastically change the ability of these farmers to produce these great crops. We know that as global warming continues, as water becomes more scarce, as our snowpack melts too early, these are serious issues that deal with our agriculture. And this is one positive step we can do as a state to help address climate change.”

Against:

  • Rep. Mary Dye (R, 9th District):

We don’t need another program where we have Ecology creating an inspections service that will create more uncertainty, more concern, more fear of regulatory requirements that we can’t afford right now. So please let’s have time to absorb the changes that we’ve already made in this state before adding one more economic hardship on our food industry.”

  • Rep. Jim Walsh (R, 19th District):

Like the good lady from the ninth, I have food processing facilities in my district and they would be negatively affected by this step. I also have [a] construction industry in my district that would be negatively [affected] by this step. Some supporters say this is a small bill, but it is a small bill in the wrong direction. The prime sponsor referred to it as a step down a path. Madam Speaker we’ve had enough steps down in the last year in this state, we need more steps up. We don’t need more regulatory red tape. We don’t need more inspection processes. We don’t need more overhead cost, more hassle.” 

HB 1323

Topic: Long-term services trust

Sponsors: Tharinger, Macri

Vote: 56-41-0-1

What the bill does: Requires that self-employed persons who wish to elect coverage under the Long-term Services and Supports Trust Program exercise that option by Jan. 1, 2025, or within three years of becoming self-employed for the first time. Authorizes federally recognized tribe to elect to collect the premium assessment for their employees under the Trust Program.

The Debate:

Votes against party majority: Rep. Harris (R.), Rep. Rule (D.)

For:

  • Rep. Steve Tharinger (D, 24th District)

I just want to remind the members about the fundamentals, with regards to this trust. More than a third of all working adults have no retirement savings. Fifty percent of the retirees have less that 25,000 dollars in savings. Medicare does not cover long term care. The Long-term services trust was created to address this need.”

Against:

  • Rep. Joe Schmick (R, 9th District)

The challenges I find with it, and it’s the challenges as people in or into the workplace, we want people to have long term care insurance. But I don’t believe that they should be penalized if they buy a private policy. And people who buy after the date that’s set won’t be able to opt out, so they’re going to pay for both.”

HB 1478

Topic: Fish habitat projects

Sponsors: Shewmake, Ortiz-Self

Vote: 57-40-0-1

What the bill does: Allows local governments to charge fees or impose requirements for fish habitat enhancement projects that receive streamlined hydraulic project approval (HPA) review to administer National Flood Insurance Program regulation requirements. Provides that projects approved by a federally recognized tribe as a sponsoring entity may qualify for a streamlined HPA review.

The Debate:

Votes against party majority: None

For:

  • Rep Sharon Shewmake (D, 42nd District)

This bill is protecting the ability of communities like mine all over Washington to continue to have that FEMA flood insurance and these FEMA flood programs. It’s a small but important fix. A yes vote is ensuring local control over more of the fish permitting in fish passage projects and allowing to protect fish habitats and ensure people maintain eligibility for their flood insurance.”

Against:

  • Rep. Tom Dent (R. 13th District)

If we pass this bill we will allow then our local governments to bypass the [current] process and impose their restrictions on the projects…. And to put further restrictions and further restrictions on these projects [that are needed to be accomplished] will do nothing but slow the projects down.”

Wednesday, February 24th 

HB 1068

Topic: Election Security/ Public Records Act (PRA)

Sponsors: Dolan, Valdez

Vote: 61-37-0-0

What the bill does: Exempts from disclosure under the PRA continuity of operations plans for election operations, security risk assessments and other election security records. Exempts portions of records that contain information related to election security, operations and infrastructure. States that election security records and information exempt under the PRA do not include information or records pertaining to security breaches, with exceptions. Clarifies that the election security exemptions under the act don’t prohibit an audit, which is authorized or required under the elections code, from being conducted.

The Debate:

Votes against party majority: Reps. Boehnke (R.), Dent (R.), Goehner (R.), Rude (R.), Paul (D.), Rule (D.), Steele (R.), Volz (R.)

For:

  • Rep. Laurie Dolan (D, 22nd District)

The bottom line is that our election systems are regularly bombarded by hackers both from within the United States, as well as from foreign countries, who consistently try to sabotage our election’s security and contingency plans should not be provided as a roadmap to the very bad actors who want to harm Washington’s Elections. House Bill 1068 takes a significant step towards protecting Washington’s election infrastructure and security plans at both the state and local levels.”

Against:

  • Rep. Jim Walsh (R, 19th District)

Benjamin Franklin famously said “A person who would exchange liberty for temporary security deserves neither.” It’s not about liberty here, but it’s a matter of transparency, what we’re trying to balance is transparency with security. And I think that Franklin’s admonition still applies, in trying to trade transparency for security we’re on this rick of losing both. It’s true we do need to take some precautions to protect our election security, but we have to respect, as a foundational value and an urgent priority of our state government, that we are transparent.”

HB 1078

Topic: Voter Eligibility/Felony 

Sponsors: Simmons, Young

Vote: 57-41-0-0

What the bill does: Replaces the two-step approach of provisional and permanent restoration of a person’s voting rights after felony conviction with a process where voting rights are automatically restored for a person convicted of a felony where they’re not serving a sentence of total confinement. Removes provisions authorizing the revocation of provisional restoration of voting right upon failure to pay legal financial obligations. 

The Debate:

Votes against party majority: Reps. Rule (D.), Young (R.)

For:

  • Rep. Tarra Simmons (D, 23rd District)

This bill is about our shameful history with the criminal legal system and how that was built. I am an example of the problem, but also of the solution. As a young woman I was convicted, I have served my time in prison, my voting rights were taken away, and I got out and I’ve done everything that I’m supposed to do to re enter our community. And yes there is a long and complicated process under existing law so that I am able to be a member of this legislature today, because I got my voting rights back. But I can tell you from experience, that it is far too long and far too complicated. Which is why very few people ever successfully complete it. Under the current law you have to pay off your legal financial obligations to get your voting rights permanently back. While you serve time those legal financial obligations keep growing and growing and they’re almost impossible to pay off. I know when I got out I did everything I was supposed to do and the courts garnished my minimum wage paycheck and impoverished my family. We constantly faced homelessness. No one should have to go through that, but thousands upon thousands do. The system we have today is unjust, it is wrong, and it must change. We are the only people with the power to make this right.”

Against:

  • Rep. Michelle Caldier (R, 26th District)

This bill is not well worked and even in the discussions today a lot of people who spoke they didn’t understand that or they stated that people could be finishing up their sentence. That’s not true, this bill would allow people who are still serving their sentence, who are still in confinement, to vote… I appreciate the intent of this bill but it’s not good enough. I just at the end of the day, I’m sorry, I can’t feel good and feel that somehow our community is going to be safe if rapists and murders are able to vote.”

Thursday, February 25th

HB 1069

Topic: Local government fiscal flexibility

Sponsors: Pollet,Duerr

Vote: 56-42-0-0

What the bill does: Allows revenue from criminal justice sales taxes, the Criminal Justice Assistance Accounts and certain King County excess property tax levies to supplant existing funds through Dec. 31, 2023. Allows the sales and use tax for chemical dependency or mental health treatment services collected by a city to be used for modifications to existing facilities for the preservation of these programs. Reduces restrictions on the allowed use of funds from criminal justice sales taxes and real estate excise taxes through Dec. 31, 2023. Increases the amount of time a water and electricity or sewage lien can be applied after the declaration of an emergency by the Governor that prevents collection.

The Debate:

Votes against party majority: Reps. Chapman (D.), Eslick (R.), Goehner (R.), Paul (D.), Rule (D.), Shewmake (D.), Steele (R.)

For:

  • Rep. Gerry Pollet (D, 46th District)

Our local governments are suffering gravely during the pandemic and will continue to suffer with tremendous loss of revenues for months and as projections have it unfortunately for a couple of years to come. They do not have the ability to impose taxes that we don’t give them. They only have the revenue sources we provide for them as the legislature because they are legislative creations. Whether it’s your water utility district or sewer and water utility, or it is your city or your county. The people who make those decisions are elected just like you and me are, and they have to make tough decisions. But they have far fewer resources to make those decisions today then they had a year ago… Those people who are elected at the city county and local level are providing the critical health and safety services and that all of us use and need. But it’s a time of crisis for them and they have put together and requested that the legislature provide them with reasonable flexibilities for just a limited period of time to get through the pandemic and economic recovery to use some of the revenue streams that we’ve authorized for them to use them more flexibly.”

Against:

  • Rep. Eric Robertson (R, 31st District)

The fact is sweeping the funds from dedicated accounts that have been promised to members in our community, voted on by our next door neighbors and community members for specific purposes. Us allowing that is just flat out wrong and quite frankly having spent thirty six years and public safety and both state federal and local government, I understand the struggle about funding. You don’t need to lecture me about that. It is a struggle certainly to make every dollar the most effective, in our efforts to suppress crime and help people in our community. However when you make a commitment, either by running a ballot measure or running a measure through the city council or you promise people that you’re going to utilize funds or a certain purpose. It is inappropriate for this body, in my opinion Madam Speaker, to change the rules and allow those dollars to be diverted and utilized for other then the initially intended purpose without going back out to the voters or going back out and asking the voters for that permission.”

HB 1070

Topic: Housing/local tax revenue

Sponsors: Ryu,Macri

Vote: 56-42-0-0

What the bill does: Expands the allowable uses of a portion of revenues from the local sales and use tax for housing and related services to include acquiring affordable housing, facilities providing housing-related services, behavioral health-related facilities or land for these purposes. Requires that a county that wishes to acquire such a facility using these funds must consult with the city in which the facility is located and reserve 15% of the services for residents of the city. Clarifies that affordable housing includes emergency, transitional and supportive housing. Expands the allowable uses of a portion of revenues from the state-shared lodging tax to include housing and facilities for homeless youth in counties of at least 1.5 million.

The Debate:

Votes against party majority: Rep. Leavitt (D.)

For:

  • Rep. Cindy Ryu (D, 32nd District)

Here we are making the existing tools and revenue options that local governments already have to be even more effective and more cost efficient. We already allowed the use of a portion of revenues from the local sales and use tax for construction of affordable housing and related services. This bill simply spans that authority of implementation, but not the taxing authority, to include acquisitions of housing units, facilities providing housing related services, behavioral health related facilities and the acquisition of land for these purposes.”

Against:

  • Rep Ed Orcutt (R, 20th District)

I just have concerns about the structure of the taxation. How much this could take out of the general fund. Although, I will tell you, when we looked at this when this was originally implemented the economy was going pretty good and I was worried about how much it might take from state funds. But now that things are [in such a bad position] The hospitality industry is in such dire straits to the COVID crisis. I’m not sure it’s going to raise a whole lot of money. So you know here’s the Goldilocks situation where I had one point I thought it was too much money and now I’m not sure it’s going to be enough. And I kind of look at it and wonder if maybe there wasn’t a better way to be using this money right now. Maybe to help some of our hospitality industry actually stay in business and not have to sell out to try and help them get through this crisis.”

HB 1148

Topic: Acute care hospitals

Sponsors: Cody,Macri

Vote: 60-37-0-1

What the bill does: Establishes penalties for hospitals that fail or refuse to comply with state licensing standards, including civil fines and stop placements. Allows the DOH to adopt a fee methodology to fund expenditures associated with enforcement activities.

The Debate: 

Votes against party majority: Reps. Caldier (R.), Chambers (R.), Robertson (R.),  Ybarra (R.), Young (R.)

For:

  • Rep. Eileen Cody (D, 34th District)

As you may recall, we had a lot of problems in some new psychiatric hospitals and there was actually an expose in the Seattle Times about it. And last year this body took action and passed legislation that would allow the Department of Health more tools in their tool box in dealing with hospitals or sites, specifically psychiatric hospitals. And during those negotiations we also discussed the acute care hospitals. And it was in agreement at that time that we would start with the psychiatric hospitals and then move to the rest of the acute care hospitals. So this bill is the second in the series. In the bill we have recognized that there is a difference between the size of hospitals. The small rural hospitals versus the larger urban hospitals. So there is that differentiation allowed on what the finding might be, but this bill will actually allow us to fine hospitals and not have to take away their license or stop placement of patients so that we can take action prior to the situation getting so bad.”

Against:

  • Rep. Joe Schmick (R, 9th District)

I struggle with and I’ve called every one of my small hospitals and talked to them about this and this is really their concern. And I do agree that we probably needed to do this. But here’s my concern today, and why I’m going to vote no. The relationship that the smaller hospitals have with the surveyor inspector, whatever you want to call that person coming in doing the inspections of hospitals. They’ve had a good working relationship to the point where if there was an issue they dealt with it immediately. Their concern is that with this added, disiplinary actions that they will have it would change the relationship to an adversarial one.”

HB 1272

Topic: Health system transparency

Sponsors: Macri,Cody

Vote: 58-40-0-0

What the bill does: Requires that hospitals provide detailed information regarding several identified categories of expenses and revenues in financial reports to the DOH. Eliminates the exemption from reporting information about facility fees for off campus clinics or providers that are located within 250 yards from the main hospital building. Requires that community health needs assessments made public by hospitals include and addendum containing certain information about activities identified as community health improvement services. 

The Debate: 

Votes against party majority: Reps. Caldier (R.), Chapman (D.), Harris (R.)

For:

  • Rep. Nicole Macri (D, 43rd District)

Washington state is indeed the largest purchaser of health care services within our state, both for our public employees and for over two million low income residents of our state. It’s also important for us to understand how our budgeting state dollars in order to best serve the health needs of more Washingtonians who are challenged to find adequate access to care. But as health systems are growing increasingly more complex than consolidated, and not to even mention the stress of this global pandemic, it gets increasingly difficult to ensure financial accountability. Patients and their loved ones are demanding answers about the relationship between health system finances and the care they receive. And this accountability means life and death when we’re facing a pandemic where now over 500,000 Americans and nearly 5,000 Washingtonians have died from COVID. This pandemic has taken an enormous toll on our doctors and nurses. We call those workers heroes, but we know it’s the hospital executives who are taking on millions of dollars in bonuses. Emergency rooms are plagued by staffing shortages while hospital systems are holding on, still, to hundreds of millions of dollars in assets. This lack of transparency prevents us, as policy makers, from having the information we need to learn from this pandemic and prevent the next public health crisis. Whether or not the money is wisely used and whether or not the outcomes we see are really based on the investments we know will get the best results for patients. So this bill intends to unveil the information that helps us understand what is truly happening in the health care system.”

Against:

  • Rep. Joe Schmick (R, 9th District)

I think that perhaps it [this bill] was as good as I could have been and talking about the overall burdens of this it has lessened on the critical access hospital and I’m thankful for that. But it’s just not quite there. In a publicly run critical access hospital you could walk in there and take a look at the books any time you want because those books are open and you can see exactly where the money is spent. And so I wish we could have segregated out smaller hospitals a bit more… I do think that there is a need for transparency, but I also think that it’s sometimes the larger hospitals. They’re more of an issue. And sometimes when we design things, one size does not always fit all, and this is just one of those classic examples. I do not want to burden my critical access hospitals with additional reporting.”

HB 1363

Topic: Secondary trauma/K-12

Sponsors: Ortiz-Self/Callan

Vote: 58-40-0-0

What the bill does: Requires the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to publish on its website links to resources, self-assessments, and best practices for educators and local policymakers to prevent and address secondary traumatic stress in the workforce. Directs the Washington State School Directors’ Association to develop or revise, and periodically update, a model policy and procedure to prevent and address secondary traumatic stress in the workforce that includes specific elements, for example, establishing a district-wide workforce mental health committee. Requires school districts to adopt, by the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, policies and procedures related to secondary traumatic stress that incorporate specified elements.

The Debate:

Votes against party majority: Rep. Rude (R.)

For:

  • Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self (D, 21st District)

We have seen now more than ever the importance of teachers in the lives of our students. We have been asking for schools to reopen, not just for academic purposes, but people have been asking for schools to be open because they know the social and emotional support teachers provide our students… But we also know that our teachers deal with all that trauma that enters into that classroom on a daily basis. Our teachers see illnesses, mental illness, a second grader talking about her mother dying of cancer, custody battles, domestic violence… and our teachers hold all those stories and while they hold all those stories they also have to continue to give out hope to every student that walks into their classroom, and this takes a toll. And researchers have named it secondary stress disorder because they are holding the stories of so many people. And that doesn’t count the stress in their own lives.” 

Against:

  • Rep. Alex Ybarra (R, 13th District)

Another unfunded bandaid, and that’s what this is. There was a bill last year that had some funding for the schools that would help in that effort but this bill doesn’t, to the best of my knowledge [have funding].”

HB 1141

Topic: Death with dignity act access

Sponsors: Rude,Macri

Vote: 60-37-0-1

What the bill does: Allows advanced registered nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and osteopathic physician assistants to perform the duties of an attending or consulting medical provider under the Death with Dignity Act (Act). Reduces the 15-day waiting period between the first and second requests for medications under the Act to 72 hours. Prohibits employing health care providers from contractually prohibiting an employee health care provider from participating in the Act while outside of the scope of employment and not on the employing health care provider’s premises. Requires hospitals to submit their policies regarding access to end-of-life care and the Act to the Department of Health. 

The Debate:

Votes against party majority: Reps. Chandler (R.), Harris (R.), Hoff (R.), McEntire (R.), Paul (D.), Rude (R.)

For:

  • Rep. Skyler Rude (R, 16th District)

I think that reasonable people can disagree on the fundamentals of the Death With Dignity law and oftentimes there are religious objections to the underlying law that has existed in our state for ten years. So I want to start with sharing a story and kind of the origin of this bill. This bill started with my constituent John and he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s which is an absolutely terrible disease. At the end of his life he was comforted by the fact, or what he thought was the fact, that he could take advantage of Washington’s Death With Dignity law. It turns out that some of the barriers that exist in the law currently made that inaccessible to him. So in his case unfortunately the only alternative was, what he called, voluntary stop eating and drinking. So you’re essentially starving yourself to death, he chose that route.”

Against:

  • Rep. Joe Schmick (R, 9th District)

This bill does change what was passed, I would say pretty substantially. By all the counties that voted for this we’ve shortened the time frame dramatically. We’ve allowed mail order, more providers to be able to authorize this. This is not what the people passed and I go by that. I have sat with my parents and cared for them as they ended their life naturally. Death is a natural process and I, Mr Speaker, I value life. Time will take its course. Is there suffering in the end? Absolutely no one would deny that. But to make it easier to take one’s life, I struggle with.”

Friday, February 26th

HB 1225

Topic: School-based health centers

Sponsors: Stonier,Bateman

Vote: 60-36-0-2

What the bill does: Establishes the school-based health center program office within the Department of Health.

The Debate:

Votes against party majority: Reps. Harris (R.), Rude (R.), Ybarra (R.)

For:

  • Rep. Monica Stonier (D, 49th District)

Families and students that are challenged with poverty are oftentimes lacking access to health care services. We know that in this state for over thirty years, in more than twenty school districts, in every pocket of the state, school based health centers have been operating in partnership to try and address that very challenge. Our students coming from communities of color are furthest away from educational justice again because they lack that access to health care. Our parents who are working jobs and cobbling together hours to try and put food on the table, struggle to get their students to appointments with the doctor for a check in or for immunizations, to get checked out when they’re not feeling well. And as we know before even this pandemic, our students were really struggling with anxiety and depression and we know that students need access to those services. We also know that when they’re trying to make it to their appointments they miss a half a day or a full day of school. So these school based health centers are partnerships between schools and health care, where they’ve figured out how to bring that care closer to where students are expected to learn.”

Against:

  • Rep. Joe Schmick (R, 9th District)

All this does is set up an office in the Department of Health locally controlled health care and we’ve heard from several of our members that have these in their schools and they work well and there are some hurdles to get over and that’s what this office will do. I want to describe what I’m going to vote no though today is that overall we’ve worked hard to get more money into our education system and it’s just if we start doing these programs, as good as they are. It’s not an endless pot of money and so you have to question if we do this are we going to be taking the money that could have gone to our schools and to help them. That’s one reason. The second reason is that I kind of wonder for all my really small school districts if they’d ever have this opportunity to have one of these and I don’t think so.”

HB 1160

Topic: Health provider contracts

Sponsors: Cody,Macri

Vote: 60-35-0-3

What the bill does: Regulates health carrier contracts with hospitals and providers.

The Debate:

Votes against party majority: Reps. Barkis (R.), Caldier (R.), Eslick (R.), Graham (R.), Harris (R.), Volz (R.), Walen (D.), Wilcox (R.), Ybarra (R.)

For:

  • Rep. Eileen Cody (D, 34th District)

The health care industry has seen a lot of consolidation over the last several years, both vertically and horizontally. With that integration, we were promised that it would be better health care for lower cost. And that is not what we have seen unfortunately. This past summer with the merger of Virginia Mason with the Franciscan Health System, I heard from a lot of constituents with concerns about further consolidation. So this summer I met with the office of the insurance commissioner, I met with the A.G.’s office, and I looked around at other states to see what other people were doing about consolidation. And I found out during that work about a case that happened in Northern California called the suburbs case. That the A.G. in California brought against the hospital system and in that case it was found that the hospital system was forcing the carriers to contract with, not just one of their hospitals if that’s what they wanted, but all. And also that they would force a preferred tiering, in that their doctors that work for them would be in a preferred tier, or in other words a lower co-payment as long as you went to those doctors. Whether or not they were the highest quality of the doctors. So I looked at that case and I thought well we should put that in place here, ban that in Washington state before it starts to happen. Turns out even though I thought that I was getting ahead of the game, we have had it happening in Washington. When we heard this bill we had testimony from some of the carriers that in fact they’ve had this practice happen to them.”

Against:

  • Rep. Joe Schmick (R, 9th District)

The one question that I have and the quick caveat. Is it our place as a legislature to put limits on contracts between two private parties that are negotiated? And that for me I’m struggling with that today. So with all the good things that this bill does, and there is a lot, this question still lingers in the back of my mind whether we should be doing that.”

Saturday, February 27th

HB 1054

Topic: Peace officer tactics, equipment

Sponsors: Johnson, J., Entenman

Vote: 54-43-0-1

What the bill does: Prohibits peace officers from using chokeholds and neck restraints. Prohibits peace officers from using police dogs to arrest or apprehend persons. Prohibits law enforcement agencies from acquiring or using tear gas and certain types of military equipment. Requires law enforcement agencies to adopt policies and procedures to ensure that uniformed peace officers are reasonably identifiable.  Establishes restrictions on vehicular pursuits and firing upon moving vehicles. Prohibits a peace officer from seeking, and a court from issuing, a search or arrest warrant granting an express exception to the “knock and announce” rule.

The Debate:

Votes against party majority: Reps. Chandler (R.), Chapman (D.), Paul (D.), Rule (D.), Shewmake (D.)

For:

  • Rep. Jesse Johnson (D, 30th District)

Today is a historic day, I want to begin by saying that we value and appreciate our peace officers for their selfless work and they do in our communities every single day to make us safe. The officers that put on the badge and uniform every day and do their jobs with honor and respect to their profession. Just as you put on the badge and uniform every day for so many decades, Mr Speaker. However, we also know that systemic racism exists along with the need for change across all of our institutions and that includes law enforcement. In many cases bad policing is just a result of bad policy and we have witnessed the evidence of unnecessary police violence and tactics that has produced negative outcomes predominantly for communities of color.”

Against:

  • Rep. Brad Klippert (R, 8th District)

We came so close working together on this bill. We came so close to something that would work to give tools to law enforcement they need to do their job with less lethal tools so they don’t have to resort to lethal tools. Because when you take away the less lethal tools now you’re telling that law enforcement officer you can’t use that, all you’ve got left is a lethal tool. We don’t want to do that and so Mr Speaker I don’t want to pass to the citizens of Washington state an imperfect bill.”

HB 1091

Topic: Transportation fuel/carbon

Sponsors: Fitzgibbon,Slatter

Vote: 52-46-0-0

What the bill does: Directs the Department of Ecology (Ecology) to adopt rules establishing a Clean Fuels Program (CFP) to limit the aggregate, overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit of transportation fuel energy to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035. Directs Ecology to update, prior to 2032, CFP rules to further reduce GHG emissions from each unit of transportation fuel for each year through 2050, consistent with statutory state emission reduction limits. Excludes exported fuel, fuel used by vessels, railroad locomotives, and aircraft, and certain other categories of transportation fuel from the CFP’s GHG emission intensity reduction requirements. Requires the CFP to include processes for the registering, reporting, and tracking of compliance obligations and to establish bankable, tradable credits used to satisfy compliance obligations. Requires annual reporting by Ecology on the CFP, as well as an analysis of the program’s first five years by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee. Retains the current distribution of revenue under the 2015 Transportation Revenue Package, eliminating changes that would have been triggered as a result of the establishment of a CFP. Requires Ecology to improve internal processes to expedite the processing of environmental reviews under the State Environmental Policy Act and for permit applications for projects related to the production of low-carbon transportation fuels.

The Debate:

Votes against party majority: Reps. Rule (D.), Shewmake (D.), Springer (D.), Sullivan (D.), Walen (D.)

For:

  • Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D, 34th District)

I stood on the physical House floor last year speaking in favor of the predecessor legislation to this piece of legislation and I said that it was not yet too late for us to take action to fight climate change. Talked about the great work that we’ve done in other sectors of our economy to decarbonize our electricity sector, to improve the efficiency of our buildings, to move away from climate harming refrigerants. But in the largest most polluting sector in our state responsible for 45% of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions, we hadn’t taken the steps yet to begin the transition to a less polluting transportation sector. That is still true today, we still haven’t taken the steps that we need to take and it is still true that it is not too late. We’re one year closer to points of no return with climate change as our CO2 that we emit into the atmosphere, which is about 90 to 100 million metric tons per year from our state alone, continues to grow. We continue to add those inputs every year but we at least have some policies in place in some of the other sectors of our economy to bend the curve and to get ahead of those problems before it’s too late. Transportation, though, we don’t have that yet.”

Against:

  • Rep. Mary Dye (R, 9th District)

I think that the point that I want to make is, to ask the question, and it’s the most important question is who? Who is making the rules in this bill? And who’s keeping the score? Right? Who’s making the rules and who’s keeping the score? This bill gives the keys to the kingdom to the Department of Ecology. The very agency that says that North West Innovation Works cannot permit a plant that would help the economy of the state and provide environmental benefits. It’s a fact that we’re giving over the power of the energy economy to a state agency and that state agency has shown its capability of grinding a local economy to a halt.”


Your support matters.

Public service journalism is important today as ever. If you get something from our coverage, please consider making a donation to support our work. Thanks for reading our stuff.