Where measures stand in state Legislature
With the passage of a key deadline for non-budgetary bills in the Washington state Legislature on Tuesday, the prospects for some high-profile measures, including one to assess A-F grades for schools, have dimmed.
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — With the passage of a key deadline for nonbudgetary bills in the Washington state Legislature on Tuesday, the prospects for some high-profile measures, including one to assess A-F grades for schools, have dimmed. Others, such as the creation of a firearm-offender registry, remain on track.
For those bills that have passed the House but stalled in Senate committees — a first-in-the-nation abortion insurance mandate and the so-called Dream Act prominent among them — Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, said a procedural move will not be used to advance them. That maneuver is known as “the ninth order of business,” in which bills not advanced from committee can be revived on the Senate floor.
“We will not go to the ninth,” Tom declared, before noting that a range of stalled bills could be revived in less dramatic ways as part of a budget deal. “As they always say, everything’s alive until we leave town.”
With Tom’s caveat in mind — and with the added asterisk that some “likely dead” bills are more likely dead than others — here’s a look at some of the noteworthy measures that are still alive and others for which eleventh-hour maneuverings would be required to see them reach Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk.
FIREARM-OFFENDER REGISTRY: A bill to require felony-firearm offenders to register with their county sheriff, subject to the discretion of a judge, has advanced to the Senate Rules Committee after passing out of the House. Unlike the state’s registry for sex offenders, the information would not be publicly available. The database would be maintained by the Washington State Patrol. (HB 1612)
3RD-GRADE READING: A measure to require third-graders with inadequate reading skills to be held back if they don’t improve in time to enroll in fourth grade passed out of the Senate. In the House, the bill was altered to make third-grade reading a measure to help judge whether schools are hitting literacy targets. It has advanced to the House Rules Committee. (SB 5237)
TOXIC PRODUCTS: A measure to ban two chemical-flame retardants from sofas and children’s products starting in 2015 passed out of the House and has advanced, in scaled-back form, to the Senate Rules Committee. Supporters note that the chemicals have been identified as carcinogens. Opponents say they help reduce fires. (HB 1294)
RENDERING CRIMINAL ASSISTANCE: A measure that passed out of the Senate and has advanced to the House Rules Committee would make helping a fugitive remain at large, even without having specific knowledge of the underlying crime, a felony. It is in response to the 2009 slaying of four Lakewood police officers. (SB 5059)
SOCIAL MEDIA PASSWORDS: A bill that would bar employers from asking employees and job seekers for the credentials to personal social-media accounts has advanced to the House Rules Committee after passing out of the Senate. (SB 5211)
WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS: A measure to pay out $50,000 per year of imprisonment stemming from a wrongful conviction has advanced to the Senate Rules Committee after passing out of the House. The bill provides for a $50,000-per-year death row bonus and $25,000 for each year wrongfully on parole, in community custody or registered as a sex offender. (HB 1341)
ABORTION INSURANCE: Washington would become the first state to require insurers to cover abortions under a measure that advanced from the House but stalled in the Senate Health Care Committee. Supporters say it would ensure that women continue to have access to abortions when the federal Affordable Care Act comes into effect in 2014. Opponents say it would infringe on religious freedoms. (HB 1044)
DREAM ACT: A measure to make young immigrants living in the country without legal permission eligible for college financial aid passed from the House but has stalled in the Senate. The measure received a hearing but not a vote in the Senate Higher Education Committee. (HB 1817)
VOTING-RIGHTS ACT: A bill to make it easier for minorities to get elected to local government posts advanced from the House but stalled in the Senate Governmental Operations Committee. Modeled on the California Voting Rights Act, it would encourage court challenges to cities, counties and school districts to push them to switch from at-large to district elections in areas where large minority groups are underrepresented. (HB 1413)
BACKGROUND CHECKS: The most prominent gun-control measure of the session, to expand mandatory background checks to private gun transactions, came a few votes short of advancing from the House. A similar Senate bill didn’t get a hearing. (HB 1588)
GRADING SCHOOLS: A measure to assign A-F letter grades to schools based on factors including improvement of student test scores advanced from the Senate but stalled in the House Education Committee. Supporters say it gives parents a clear sign of how a school is doing. Opponents insist it would be punitive and often unfair. (SB 5328)
NONPARENTAL VISITATION: A measure championed by grandparents-rights advocates to make it easier for a third party enjoying substantial a relationship with a child to get visitation rights advanced from the House but stalled in the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee. (HB 1934)
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: A package of bills to make workers’ compensation rules more business friendly advanced from the Senate but stalled in the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee. Most prominent is one to overhaul the voluntary “compromise-and-release” settlement agreement system for injured workers first approved by the Legislature in 2011. Tom, the Senate majority leader, called the measures a top priority for the Senate majority and said they could remerge as bargaining chips in the budget debate. (SB 5112, SB 5127, SB 5128)
CLIMATE CHANGE: Gov. Jay Inslee last week signed into law a stripped-down version of a measure he championed to study the best practices for reducing greenhouse- gas emissions. Under the law, an outside consultant will review both Washington state’s continuing efforts to cut carbon emissions and similar endeavors elsewhere before reporting their findings to a panel consisting of lawmakers and the governor. (SB 5802)
ALCOHOL TASTING: A plan to allow students aged 18 and over to taste alcohol in college classes has passed both legislative chambers and awaits the governor’s signature. The idea would allow students in alcohol-related programs, such as culinary classes, to taste but not ingest alcohol as part of their studies. (SB 5774)