OLYMPIA — In December, Sen. Rodney Tom announced he would leave his caucus to helm a majority consisting of himself, another like-minded Democrat and 23 Republicans.
The Medina lawmaker said the new coalition would focus on a discrete set of goals. “This is about jobs, education and the budget,” Tom said.
House Democratic leaders don’t deny the importance of Tom’s core issues, saying they stand ready to work with the upper chamber in the coming weeks. Senate Minority Leader Ed Murray, D-Seattle, however, sounded a more discordant tone.
“It’s a right-wing Republican agenda, as you’ve seen with the bills they’ve passed,” Murray said. “I keep waiting for the moderate part of that agenda to show up.”
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With the session halfway gone, the biggest fight remains on the horizon: how to plug a budget hole of more than $1 billion while adhering to a state Supreme Court decision requiring more money for public schools.
Beyond that, a wide range of measures, from expanding abortion coverage to strengthening gun laws to making workers’ compensation rules more business friendly, have sparked fierce debate between — and at times within — the parties and caucuses.
With the caveat that no bill in Olympia is truly dead until the session has been gaveled to a close, here is a look at bills that have survived and those that haven’t.
Workers’ compensation: The Senate has advanced a package of bills to make workers’ compensation rules more business friendly. Most prominent is one to overhaul the voluntary “compromise-and-release” settlement-agreement system for injured workers first approved by the Legislature in 2011. House Democratic leaders and Gov. Jay Inslee oppose the changes. (SB 5128)
Firearm-offender registry: House lawmakers advanced a bill to require people convicted of felony firearm offenses to register with the county sheriff. The information would not be publicly available. (HB 1612)
Abortion insurance: Most insurers would be required to cover abortions under a measure that has advanced from the House. Supporters say it would ensure
continued access to abortions when the federal Affordable Care Act comes into effect in 2014. Opponents say it would infringe on religious freedoms. (HB 1044)
Repealing paid family leave: A Senate measure to repeal a long-unfunded program giving parents five paid weeks off to be with a new child advanced from committee but never received a floor vote. Sponsors say they are revising the measure. (SB 5159)
Wolf kills: The Senate has advanced a measure allowing livestock and pet owners to shoot endangered gray wolves without a permit when the wolves are attacking or threatening their animals. Supporters say they have the right to protect their property. Opponents say it would hurt wolf recovery efforts. (SB 5187)
Amending I-502: A House bill to require those seeking to grow, process or sell cannabis to pay for the opportunity to obtain the necessary license has not received a hearing but is alive because it could be considered necessary to implement the budget. It also would let cannabis businesses be closer to schools, day cares and parks. A two-thirds majority in both legislative chambers is required to amend the initiative. (HB 2000)
Medical-marijuana tax: A House measure to impose a 25 percent sales tax on medical marijuana (to bring the medical-marijuana price closer to the estimated price of heavily taxed recreational marijuana, once that system is in place late this year) — hasn’t advanced from committee. (HB 1789)
Grading schools: The Senate has advanced a measure to assign A-F grades to schools based on factors including improvement of student test scores. Supporters say parents could get a clear sign of how a school is doing. Opponents insist it would be punitive and often unfair. (SB 5328)
Third-grade reading: The Senate has advanced a measure to require third-graders with inadequate reading skills to repeat a grade, attend summer school or otherwise improve their reading before enrolling in fourth grade. The measure also would authorize K-3 teacher training to help improve students’ reading. (SB 5237)
Climate change: A stripped-down version of a measure championed by Inslee to study the best practices for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions has advanced from the Senate. Under the bill, an outside consultant would review the state’s efforts to cut carbon emissions and similar endeavors elsewhere. (SB 5802)
Voting rights: A bill to make it easier for minorities to get elected to local government has advanced from the House. 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 where large minority groups are present. (House Bill 1413)
Dream Act: House Democrats and Republicans approved a measure that makes young illegal immigrants eligible for college financial aid. Lawmakers amended the bill on the floor to broaden its scope beyond young immigrants granted a temporary stay in the country under an Obama administration plan. The bill follows a law approved 10 years ago that made illegal-immigrant students eligible for in-state tuition if they met certain criteria. A similar bill died in the Senate. (HB 1817)
Wrongful convictions: A measure to pay those wrongly convicted $50,000 per year of imprisonment has advanced from the House. The bill provides an extra $50,000 per year on death row and $25,000 for each year wrongfully on parole, in community custody or registered as a sex offender. (HB 1341)
Nonparental visitation: Grandparents-rights advocates are championing a measure that has advanced from the House to make it easier for a third party enjoying a substantial relationship with a child to get visitation rights. Opponents say it threatens parental rights. (HB 1934)
Social-media passwords: The Senate has advanced a bill that would prohibit employers from asking employees and job seekers for the credentials to personal social-media accounts. (SB 5211)
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)
A Senate bill to allow small businesses to pay a lower “training wage” to up to 10 percent of their workforce for up to 680 hours per worker advanced from committee but never received a floor vote. (SB 5275)
Parental notification: A bill to require minors to notify their parents before terminating a pregnancy did not get out of committee. The measure would have denied a pregnant minor an abortion unless she’d given at least 48 hours’ notice to a parent or guardian. (SB 5156)
Divorce waiting period: A Senate bill to extend the waiting period for finalizing a divorce from 90 days to one year received a hearing but did not get out of committee. (SB 5614)
Expanding paid family leave: A measure to expand the long-postponed paid family-leave law to include caring for a family member or an employee’s own disability received a hearing in the House but never advanced out of committee. Under the bill, workers would have received up to $1,000 a week for up to 12 weeks. (HB 1457)
Marijuana convictions: A House bill to make it easier to get adult misdemeanor marijuana convictions (possession of an ounce or less) erased from a criminal record advanced from committee. It did not get a floor vote. (HB 16
Death penalty: A bill to abolish the death penalty got a public hearing but never made it out of committee. (HB 1504)
Going to the voters:
Genetically engineered food: Lawmakers took no action on an initiative to the Legislature to require genetically engineered foods to be labeled beginning in 2015, effectively sending it to the November ballot. (I-522)
Associated Press writers Rachel La Corte, Phuong Le, Gene Johnson, Mike Baker, Manuel Valdes and Shannon Dininny contributed.