We’ve reached the halfway point of our scheduled 105-days at the state Capitol. Each year, legislators consider hundreds of ideas for state laws. The process by which a bill becomes a law is complex, involving many steps. It is deliberately designed that way to prevent hasty decisions on matters affecting the lives of the people of our state.
The legislative process is driven by specific deadlines that keep bills moving through the Legislature. March 8, was the last day for bills to pass out of the chamber they originated in, or they are considered “dead.” Bills that “survive,” and are approved by the House, will be sent to the Senate, where they will start the process all over again. Here is a quick look at some of the bills I sponsored, or co-sponsored, recently approved by the House:
Paraeducators make a vital contribution to our state’s education system. House Bill 1115 would help them to develop within their profession. The bill would implement statewide paraeducator standards, professional development and career progression.
House Bill 1055 would create an Office of Military and Veteran Legal Assistance within the Office of the State Attorney General’s office. This office would help facilitate civil legal assistance programs, pro-bono services, and other self-help services for military service members, veterans and their families.
Producing “mead” is a growing industry in Washington State. House Bill 1176 will help producers work with regulators and encourage growth in the industry. Mead is not defined in state law and is considered to be a type of wine. Because it is classified this way, the Washington State Wine Commission has levied a fee on its production. This bill would allow mead to be produced without having to pay those fees.
House Bill 1226 is a common-sense policy proposal that would take advantage of existing waste collection systems by allowing the curbside collection of electronic wastes.
The Senate passed a bill recently that would revamp the Sound Transit’s agency leadership by making the board accountable to the people. Currently, the Sound Transit Board is made up of seventeen appointed officials. The executive in each county makes the appointments. Senate Bill 5001 would get rid of the appointed board, replacing it with 11 elected directors. This would give taxpayers a voice in managing the $54 billion Sound Transit 3 light rail project. The bill is now waiting on a public hearing in the House Transportation Committee.
I’ve co-sponsored a bill, which would force Sound Transit to stop using an outdated formula setting vehicle values. House Bill 2132 would revise the current inflated valuation system, which is driving up the cost of car tabs. A companion bill sponsored by Sen. Dino Rossi, and co-sponsored by Sen. Steve O’Ban, is also making its way through the Senate.
In addition, several constituents have asked me about the possibility of allowing cities, or counties, to withdraw from Sound Transit by a vote of the people. This is something I’m looking into in order to address concerns brought to me by people in my district.