Guest opinion: Guns, helmets and soju proposals queued up for 2019 session

In an annual rite, lawmakers are already putting bills in the hopper they want to debate next year.

With the 2019 session rapidly approaching, lawmakers are queuing up legislation to change the rules for who has to wear a helmet, where one can buy a bottle of the popular beverage, and what records of handgun sales must be destroyed.

These and other subjects are among the dozens of bills pre-filed for introduction on opening day, Jan. 14.

Here are snapshots of a few:

Freedom to ride

If you are of legal age to drink, the state may let you drive a motorcycle without a helmet.

Senate Bill 5007 would allow those 21 years of age and older to go helmet free if they have legally required liability insurance.

The bill, drafted by Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, also applies to moped drivers.

Executive protection

One of the Washington State Patrol’s duties is to provide security for Gov. Jay Inslee even when he is on a political junket in another state. Inslee traveled so much this year he busted the patrol’s budget for this chore.

Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, wrote House Bill 1021 to solve the problem. It creates an account into which private contributions can be made to offset the extra protection and security costs.

If there’s still a shortfall, it would be covered out of the budget of the governor’s office rather than state patrol.

Shredding by the thousands

If you buy a handgun in this state, a record of the transaction is sent to the state Department of Licensing. House Bill 2024 seeks to end that practice and get rid of what is already there. The bill is all of two paragraphs long and concludes, “The department of licensing shall eliminate from any of its databases any copies or records of pistol purchase applications or pistol transfers maintained by the department of licensing.”

Money matter

County leaders are eternally frustrated that state lawmakers pass new mandates but don’t provide enough money to cover the cost of carrying them out. Just how much is unfunded? House Bill 1008 from Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, might get the answer.

It seeks to study what counties spend doing state-ordered tasks and what the state provides to do them.

Spreading the cost

A 2017 report identified more than 20,000 parcels of land around the state that are not paying an assessment for fire protection services yet in the event of a blaze will have firefighters from the Department of Natural Resources or a local district trying to save their property.

Senate Bill 5010 seeks to make those property owners chip in a little. It sets up a process for a local fire district to annex adjacent parcels after which they could levy a fee.

Enlarging the liquor cabinet

Soju, a distilled alcoholic beverage which originated in Korea, isn’t a product Washington state officials want sold in eateries whose owners only have a beer and wine license.

House Bill 1034 directs the state Liquor and Cannabis Board to make it possible for them to start serving soju by the bottle for consumption on-premises.

Rep. Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline, a Korean native, is the prime sponsor.

The 2019 session is slated to run 105 days and end April 29.

Contact The Herald (Everett) columnist Jerry Cornfield at 360-352-8623, jcornfield@herald net.com or on Twitter, @dospueblos.

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