What bills got passed, what got blocked, and what hovers in limbo as Olympia prepares for a special session.
OLYMPIA — Most of the state politics talk lately has focused on the impasse over a budget agreement and the special session that starts Wednesday. But a reader asked me last weekend: What have lawmakers gotten done? And what have they yet to do?
Good question. Here’s a (not comprehensive but hopefully adequate) list of what happened on a bunch of issues this session.
First, bills that passed the Legislature and got signed by Gov. Jay Inslee:
- A supplemental operating budget. It allocates nearly $218 million in state and federal money to cover costs from the Oso landslide, the summer wildfires and increased needs in mental-health and social-services funding.
- Regulatory system for medical marijuana. On Friday, the governor signed a bill that will create this system.
- Washington State University medical school in Spokane. Another successful proposal will open the door for this new school.
- More information about geologic hazards. In the wake of the Oso landslide, a bill got signed that will allow Washington to have more information than ever that would help threatened communities.
- Increase skills and safety training for agricultural workers. This bill is another that’s becoming law.
- Address campus sexual violence. One bill aiming to do this got signed last week; another awaits the governor’s action.
Here’s a recent list of all the bills delivered to Gov. Jay Inslee’s office and which ones he has signed, though it may not include his most recent signings. Many await the governor’s action, including a mental-health proposal known as Joel’s Law, a firearms notification bill known as the Sheena Henderson Act and a bill to regulate app-based ride services like Uber and Lyft. There’s also an oil transportation safety bill heading to the governor’s desk.
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There are a few bigger pieces of legislation in limbo. Lawmakers have been working on compromises for reforming the recreational marijuana market (last third of this story), as well as a statewide transportation package. Legislators are still working on these, as well as hashing out a 2015-17 operating budget.
But plenty of legislation got blocked. Depending on your political persuasion and personal tendencies, that’s either truly terrible or kind of all right, maybe even great. This is also not a comprehensive list, but some highlights:
- A minimum-wage increase to $12 an hour, equal pay for woman and paid sick leave. These three bills passed through the Democratic-controlled House and died in committee in the Republican-controlled Senate.
- There were a variety of bills that would have either strengthened gun regulations, or loosened or repealed the new gun-purchase background checks that voters approved in November. Most bills failed without even coming to a floor vote.
- On campaign finance disclosure, the Senate ultimately voted down a bill that would require disclosure of donors to nonprofits that spend money on elections.
- A bill to strengthen the state’s distracted-driving laws passed the Senate but died in the House.
- Several proposals that would have reformed the initiative process, some of which had bipartisan support, failed.
- A proposal to authorize police to seize sex-buyers’ cars and cash failed, as did one to strengthen penalties against sex buyers.
- A trio of bills that would have increased local control over fighting wildfires failed.
If you want a list of legislation that failed earlier on — ranging from hunting in state parks to fantasy sports and whale captivity — check out the bottom half of our mid-session update.