Upcoming Conference | 2019 Re-Wire Policy Conference, Dec 10, 2019 Register

Gov. Inslee signs four bills into law

Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee signed four bills into law that made it through both chambers this session.

Here’s what they do:

SB 5079, the Native American voting rights act of Washington, was enacted in an effort to increase voting access for Native Americans in Washington State.

It requires county auditors to establish at least one ballot drop box on tribes’ reservations at their request. Under the new law, the Governor also has to designate certain state facilities to provide voter-registration services at tribes’ request.

The law allows voters who live on Indian reservations to use a designated tribal government building’s address on their ballot and to register to vote using “nontraditional residential addresses.”

“This is very important, because our tribal registration rates are sometimes 5 to 14 percent lower than non-tribal members,” Inslee said at the bill’s signing.

Finally, it allows tribal identification cards — including cards without a residential address — to be used for voter registration.

SB 5273moves Washington’s presidential primary vote from May to the second Tuesday in March. The law’s supporters say the goal is to increase Washington’s leverage in the presidential nomination and to turn Washington into a “primary state.”

Whether Washington State Democrats will move to a primary-only process to allocate its delegates is yet to be decided.

SB 5581 was requested by the Department of Revenue (DOR) and tweaks state tax law. Changes include adjustments that bring Washington law in-line with a U.S. Supreme Court decision, South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., from last year.

According to DOR’s website, the bill also updates state law to match a change in federal law, “including the provision that a remote seller, marketplace facilitator or referrer can choose whether to collect sales tax or comply with the state’s use-tax notice and reporting laws.”

For example, that means companies like Amazon can no longer opt out of collecting sales tax in Washington — they have to collect it.

Other changes include eliminating a B&O and retail sales-tax exemption on imported goods — except when it’s a wholesale sale of unroasted coffee beans or between a parent company and its wholly owned subsidiary.

Finally, the governor’s signature on SB 5954 immediately funded the state’s bump stock buy-back program.

Bump stocks are added to semi-automatic firearms to increase their rates of fire. Washington State passed a bill last year that made it illegal to manufacture or sell them as of July 2018, and banned them entirely starting July of this year. The bill also directed the Washington State Patrol to establish a buy-back program.

On March 26, though, a national ban on the devices that passed after Washington’s goes into effect.

The new law appropriates $150,000 from the general fund to the Washington State Patrol to administer the buy-back program, which allows Washington residents to turn in up to five bump stocks — or the receipts from relinquishing them already — in exchange for $150.