This Washington

Dead Bills and Undead Bills: The Good, The Bad

By Andrew Calkins February 23, 2011

February 21st was the first big milestone in Olympia this session—the cutoff date for non-budget-related bills to get voted out of committee. Here's a PubliCola tally of the status of some noteworthy bills.

Still Alive and Well

• Rep. Judy Clibborn's (D-41, Mercer Island) bill, which would require "limited service pregnancy centers" to disclose that they do not provide contraception or abortion services, made it through the house health care committee in spite of massive opposition from anti-abortion groups.

• Initiative hawkers are no doubt frustrated with attempts to reform the state's signature gathering and initiative filing rules (and No. 1 initiative hawker Tim Eyman has been on a press release frenzy about it), but Sen. Sharon Nelson's (D-34, Maury Island)  legislation to require paid signature gatherers to register with the state and to raise the filing fee for initiatives made it out of the Senate Committee on Government Operations and Tribal Relations & Elections last week. (Sponsor Nelson and hawker Eyman square off here.)

• Rep. Marko Liias successfully introduced and passed legislation out of committee that would give budget-broke counties the ability to enact a $30 car tab fee to pay for transit service to avoid otherwise inevitable cuts in service hours.

• Last week, Josh gave Rep. Tina Orwall (D-33, Des Moines) props for passing a foreclosure bill to help homeowners by requiring banks to meet with borrowers before initiating foreclosures. The would also charge banks $250 each time they initiate a foreclosure—raising an estimated $7.5 million to fund financial counselors.

Still Alive and Dangerous

• Two bills that would hamper the implementation of the state Growth Management Act—one sponsored by Rep. Larry Springer (D-45, Kirkland) to delay GMA implementation and another sponsored by Rep. Joel Kretz (R-7, Ferry County) that would allow some small counties to opt out of the GMA altogether—are both on the move, having passed out of the House Committee on Local Government.

• Attorney General Rob McKenna's bill to allow law enforcement to identify gang members (even those who don't have a criminal record) and issue "protective orders" against them (no right to counsel in that process)—prohibiting suspects from things such as wearing certain clothes, associating with certain people, or drinking—is still queued up. The ACLU and other opponents say the preemptive strike is a recipe for racial profiling and civil rights abuses.

Controversial Bills

•The TransAlta showdown: Sen. Phil Rockefeller's (D-23, Bainbridge Island) bill to wind down the TransAlta coal-fired electricity plant in Centralia made it through the senate environmental committee (Rep. Marko Liias's stronger house version did not).

Even though Rockefeller's bill includes a weaker community transition fund that kicks in seven years later, doesn't mandate that the plant shut down until 2020 (as opposed to the 2015 date in Liias' bill), allows the company to petition for a longer time frame, and keeps a $5 million tax break for the company alive, it's still likely to cause ruckus because the plant employs 278 people and produces 400 contract and related jobs. Opponents say the bill is a job killer.

•Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen's legislation to require driver's license applicants to prove they're in the US legally ran up against some vocal opposition from groups like OneAmerica, which advocates for immigrants and people of color. It's been watered down a bit to match the house version, which would create a "two-tiered system" that would mark undocumented immigrants' licenses with a "not valid for identification purposes" stamp. (Opponents don't like this one much either because they say the scarlet letter will deter undocumented immigrants from pursuing licenses.)

• Rep. Reuven Carlyle's (D-36, Queen Anne, Ballard) controversial bill to loosen restrictions on certifications for school principals, opening up the position to a broader applicant pool with non-education backgrounds, has the ill wishes of the state's teacher union and the Association of Washington School Principals but still made the cut (unlike Seattle Rep. Eric Pettigrew's, D-11, teacher evaluation bill).

• One we'd been covering that we forgot to mention (and is still alive): Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-34, Maury Island) sponsored one of the environmental lobby's only priorities this session, a "clean jobs" bill that would have implemented a fee on hazardous substances entering the state. It ran into some opposition from oil companies who argued that another "dedicated" fund wasn't the way to go and that they already pay for environmental cleanup projects through a toxics fund (which legislators have a tendency to raid).


• As Fizz noted yesterday morning, a long list of bills didn't make the cut, including Sen. Tim Sheldon's (D-35, Potlatch) bill to privatize liquor sales; Sen. Val Stevens’ (R-39, Arlington) bill that would have required students who applied for financial aid to be US citizens; and (it can't happen here ...yet) Sen. Jim Honeyford's (R-15, Sunnyside) legislation to take away the collective bargaining rights of state employees.

Oh Well...

•Freshman Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon's (D-34, W. Seattle) legislation banning plastic bags from grocery stores never got a hearing. Sorry Joe.
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