Skip to main content

Originally published Monday, February 13, 2012 at 11:57 PM

  • Share:
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

WA House OKs bill tying abortion to maternity care

Washington state lawmakers moved forward Monday with bills on insurance coverage for abortions, facial recognition for state IDs and fees for vehicle towing.

Associated Press

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
No comments have been posted to this article.
Start the conversation >


OLYMPIA, Wash. —

Washington state lawmakers moved forward Monday with bills on insurance coverage for abortions, facial recognition for state IDs and fees for vehicle towing.

In the House, lawmakers passed a bill requiring health insurers covering maternity care to also pay for abortions.

Supporters said the bill would ensure that existing abortion coverage will be preserved once federal health insurance rules come into effect under the Affordable Care Act in 2014.

The measure "moves our state one step closer to protecting all Washington women's access to truly comprehensive reproductive health care coverage," NARAL Pro-Choice Washington's Interim Executive Director Christi Stapleton said in a statement.

Opponents said the measure would lead to more abortions and would prove expensive.

Starting in 2014, most individual and small group health care plans will under federal law be required to cover a set of medical conditions, among them pregnancy. Exempted under the bill are multistate plans, which are not subject to state law, and religiously sponsored plans.

HB 2330 passed by a 52-46 vote and goes next to the Senate.

In the Senate, a bill has passed to implement a facial recognition system to verify the identity of those applying for a driver's license or other state ID.

The system would measure the distances between the applicant's eyes, nose, mouth and other facial features and then compare them against a state photo database.

Supporters said the bill would make it more difficult to hold multiple IDs and easier for law enforcement to crack down on identity theft.

It is the "most important bill we're going to pass for law enforcement this year," said Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, who sponsored the measure.

Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, sought unsuccessfully to add amendments to the bill requiring that those applying for state IDs provide a valid Social Security number or proof of legal residence.

Washington and New Mexico are the only states allowing illegal immigrants access to driver's licenses. New Mexico's Legislature is weighing a measure to end the practice there.

Facial recognition programs are in place in 31 states.

SB 6150 passed by a 29-19 vote and goes next to the House.

Also on Monday, the House passed a measure to cap the fees tow truck owners can charge for impounding cars and trucks.

Under current law, the state strictly regulates tow truck operators licensed to work with the State Patrol but places no limits on how much those responding to calls from private property owners may charge.

The bill would cap private towing fees at 150 percent of what the State Patrol allows. It would also require all tow truck operators to undergo the same criminal background checks currently required for State Patrol-approved operators.

Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle, introduced the bill after hearing reports of steep fees - some as high as $1,400 - for those reclaiming vehicles towed from private parking lots.

"We've worked hard to reach a consensus that ensures no family vehicle is held hostage by a fee that is equal to a month's rent," said Pollet in a statement.

Opponents of the measure said it punishes the whole industry for the actions of an unscrupulous few.

HB 2372 passed by a 55-43 margin, with all but two Democrats voting for it and one Republican voting against it. The bill goes next to the Senate.

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

The Seattle Times Historical Archives

Browse our newspaper page archives from 1900-1984