The legislature passed a slew of bills Monday that address a wide range of issues from bottled water to protections for in-home caregivers to sentencing alternatives. While not a complete list of the many bills to make it through each of the chambers on Monday, here’s a handful we’re keeping our eye on.
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In the House:
House Bill 2308 would require employers to report standard occupational classifications or worker job titles to the Employment Security Department (ESD) as part of that company’s quarterly unemployment insurance reports. The bill aims to provide more specific information about types of jobs and job titles to ESD so the department can more accurately analyze occupational trends, further evaluate the effectiveness of job training programs, and determine if job training and educational programs actually lead to jobs in those fields. The bill also allows researchers and government officials to see what jobs and occupations are in their communities and better attract businesses to those areas to increase the number of needed jobs and the expand educational and training programs in those fields. The bill now moves to the Senate.
In the Senate:
Senate Bill 6278 would ban the issuance of any new water rights permits for commercial water withdrawals for bottled water production. The bill deems that the use of public water for the purpose of commercial bottled water production is detrimental to public welfare and the public interest. The bill would apply to new water withdrawal permits dated January 2019 or later. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 5291 aims to create alternatives to incarceration for people convicted of a crime who are the parents or guardians to minor children. The bill would expand family sentencing alternative program eligibility requirements, making those under a deportation order eligible for participation in a program, as well as allow those previously convicted of a violent offense if they are not likely to re-offend. Family sentencing alternative programs allow people convicted of certain crimes to be placed under intensive community supervision instead of jail, as well as complete community service. This serves the added benefit of maintaining family bonds and reducing rates of children of convicted criminals also turning to a life of crime. The bill now goes to the House.
Senate Bill 6205 provides protections from abuse, discrimination and harassment to in-home caregivers. The bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-49th District), said the bill was a response to two shootings of in-home caregivers last year — a symptom of a long-running issue facing home health care workers who have very few workplace protections. The bill would require the Department of Social & Health Services to convene a work group that would issue recommendations to train home health care workers, patients and in-home care agencies in addressing workplace harassment and discrimination. The bill also stipulates what constitutes harassment, discrimination and abuse and gives the Department of Labor & Industries the authority to enforce requirements outlined by the bill. The bill now goes to the House.
Senate Bill 6112 aims to curtail holding facilities from placing teenagers in solitary confinement. While used to correct criminal behavior in juveniles, the tactic often accomplishes the opposite, according to a press release from the office of Sen. Claire Wilson (D-30th District). The bill restricts putting teens in solitary confinement to emergency situations and provides clear criteria for when a juvenile can be put in isolation. The facility would also have to document any use of solitary confinement, among other provisions. The bill is a response to a 50 percent rate of suicide among youth placed in solitary confinement, as well a way to lower the 62 percent rate of juveniles placed in solitary confinement while held in juvenile detention facilities.