Back at the beginning of our maddeningly short legislative session, Real Change profiled a few of this year’s more notable prefiled bills. Now, after the final cutoff for bills to be voted out of their respective chambers, we figured we’d check back in and see how they’ve fared. Given the relative political homogeneity of our legislative branch, these bills all had a very good chance of making it through the opposite chamber mostly unchanged.
In addition to reviewing our original list, we’ve woven in some updates on other new or notable bills that have died, advanced or, in one case, did both in quick succession. Our lack of a full-time legislature doesn’t mean there’s a lack of action here. Or, looked at another way, there’s a stunning overabundance of inaction, leading to a lot of interesting bills dying on the vine.
The bill graveyard
Senate Bill (SB) 5042 would have let cops do neck restraints that restricted blood flow but not airflow, both of which were banned by previous legislation. Still wondering what’s up with the guy who introduced this one, from a moral perspective, but this bill is “dead in committee.”
SB 5132 would have increased the penalty for assaulting a law enforcement officer to a mandatory minimum of 180 days in the slammer. However, it ended up in the eternal slammer known as dead in committee.
House Bill (HB) 1363 would have loosened restrictions on police procedures put in place by previous legislation. In this case, vehicular pursuits, the danger of which staff reporter Guy Oron reported on. But every cop’s got a little Hobbes and Shaw in them, don’t they? And we need them to be fulfilled on the job now more than ever, according to Mayor Bruce Harrell.
Anyway, like so many of its cop-respecting brethren bills, this one died in committee. However, in a major plot twist, SB 5352, a Senate version of HB 1363, was also breathing its last breath in committee but was resuscitated at the absolute last minute. Democratic Senate leaders suspended the body’s rules to get it on the floor, where they passed it with a few major amendments, including lessening a controversial standard requiring officers to have probable cause of specific offenses. Under the new language, they would only need reasonable suspicion. Though it was a purely Republican-sponsored bill, 19 Democrats hopped on board to get it done. Several Republicans hopped off board, as they felt the tweaks needed to get it under the big tent had defanged the bill.
The death of HB 1062 added another headstone to the law-enforcement-related row in the committee graveyard. Stopping law enforcement from lying to obtain confessions was unfortunately a non-starter for a legislature full of progressive, police-defunding Democrats.
HB 1071 was a Republican-led effort to put more cops in schools that is now — wait for it — dead in committee.
HB 1096 would have bumped up the assault penalty for anyone who beats up an amateur sports official. As I said in the previous iteration of this piece, I am still deeply worried about why this needed to be legislated in the first place. The fact that this is dead in committee does nothing to address my concerns about just how violent parents are on the sidelines, but I guess I’ll just have to live with that mystery.
SB 5009 would have required parental permission for kids to participate in the state’s universal sex education program. This, too, died in committee.
SB 5107 and 5013 were a pair of bills I found absolutely adorable. They would have respectively raised the limit on how much product a cottage food business could produce without losing its designation and given a tax break to small wineries on the first 20,000 gallons of wine they sold. We want more cute food! Okay, maybe it’s just me and the two wine moms behind these bills who want that, because the cottage food and small winery bills got left on the committee counter too long.
HB 1045 would have created a state universal basic income pilot program, following up on a successful run recently completed in Tacoma. This one died in committee.
HB 1024 would have made sure prisoners get minimum wage, ending what sounds a whole lot like modern day slavery. Dead in committee.
HB 1087 would have banned solitary confinement, a practice that is the absolute definition of cruel and unusual. Also dead in committee.
SB 5109, Sen. Rebecca Saldaña’s (D-Seattle) bill to set up wage protection programs for undocumented immigrants, which she seemed really enthusiastic about and which seemed to have some energy behind it, is the opposite of energized. Instead, it and its House companion bill, HB 1095, are dead in committee.
HB 1029 would have mandated the reemployment of state employees who were terminated or left because they refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19. It went nowhere.
HB 1091 would have required voter approval of tax increases a la Tim Eyman. Dead in committee, like his career and financial future. In a recent email, Eyman claimed that Attorney General Bob Ferguson left him with $1,500 in the bank.
SB 5017 would have mandated that motor vehicle taxes be used only for highways. Not like we love transit here in Washington, but at least we know better than to completely defund it. Dead in committee.
HB 1063 was a good idea about allowing motorcyclists to engage in lane-splitting, the practice of riding in between cars in traffic. Also dead in committee, just like more motorcyclists will be, according to the study this bill was based off of.
So close, yet so far
HB 1124 would have provided a robust suite of tenant protections — things like advance notice of rent increases, limits on those rent increases and the ability of tenants to say, “Screw that, I’m out” — with no penalty. This item of business made it to the floor and never got up.
SB 5002 would have lowered the DUI limit to 0.05 percent. Science said it would have saved lives. The senate simply said, “No, thanks.”
At least we have a state dinosaur
HB 1010 brought crab under the purview of the Department of Health’s regulations, because apparently climate change is increasing the danger from biotoxins in crab. Kind of a procedural one, but it passed and it sounds like we should be glad for it.
SB 5069 paves the way for interstate cannabis agreements, and it passed. An obvious boon for big cannabusiness, but also could help set up the framework for interstate commerce in anticipation of the federal government rescheduling the stuff.
SB 5123 provides workplace protections for cannabis users, making it so you can’t get fired or denied employment for smoking our state’s sweet, sweet legal weed. This one passed.
HB 1006 would expand access to drug testing equipment, like testing strips, and it passed, allowing for possession of potentially life-saving equipment.
HB 1020, ie: the cute dinosaur bill, finally passed. First pitched by a class of kids in Parkland, Washington, juiced off the discovery of a Tyrannosaurus-like dino bone in the San Juans, it got fossilized in committee two years running. Our fearless lawmakers finally found 20 minutes to make an entire class of kids’ dreams come true by hearing a tiny bit of public testimony, doing their procedural mumbo jumbo and voting it through.
Tobias Coughlin-Bogue is the associate editor at Real Change.
Read more of the Mar. 15-21, 2023 issue.