Following this week’s legislative cutoff deadline for committee action on bills in their originating house, both chambers of the Washington State Legislature took up debate and voted on dozens of bills in floor sessions that lasted well into the night.
Lawmakers have until Wednesday, Feb. 14, to pass bills and move them to the opposite house for further consideration.
Measures that don’t make it past this deadline, except budget-related bills, will likely be dead for this session.
Most bills passed this week cleared their respective chamber by unanimous or near-unanimous votes.
Following are notable measures that passed by much narrower margins.
House Bill 1541, Providing for prescription drug cost transparency
Passed the House on Feb. 7 by a vote of 50-48
This bill would require the Office of Financial Management to use a competitive procurement process to select a data organization to collect, verify, and summarize prescription drug pricing data provided by issuers and drug manufacturers. “Prescription drugs” include generic, brand name and specialty drugs, as well as biological products. The data organization would have to provide an annual report that identifies overall spending on prescription drugs; identifies the 25 most frequently prescribed and costliest prescription drugs, and provides summary data that demonstrates the impact of prescription drug costs, as compared to other health care costs, on health insurance premiums.
Rep. Mike Chapman (D-Port Angeles) Yes
Rep. Steve Tharinger (D-Sequim) Yes
Senate Bill 6084, Requiring maintenance of minimum essential health care coverage
Passed the Senate on Feb. 7 by a vote of 25-23 (one member excused)
The federal Affordable Care Act imposes an individual mandate for health insurance coverage that is enforced by an income tax penalty on uncovered persons. Beginning in January 2019, the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was signed into law by President Trump last December effectively eliminated the individual mandate by reducing all penalties for failing to maintain minimum essential health care coverage to zero. This bill would impose a state individual mandate for health insurance coverage by requiring that all residents of the state must ensure that they and any dependents are covered under minimum essential health care coverage for each month. Since Washington does not have a state income tax, the bill directs the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner to convene a task force to explore individual mandate enforcement mechanisms and report to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2018.
Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim) Yes
Senate Bill 6037, Concerning the uniform parentage act
Passed the Senate on Feb. 7 by a vote of 27-21 (one member excused)
Washington’s Uniform Parentage Act provides for how a legal parent child relationship may be established or challenged, and how a determination of parentage may be used by courts in other proceedings including child support. It also regulates surrogacy and provides that surrogacy parenting agreements may not include compensation. This bill would revise a number of provisions in the act, key among which are changes to surrogacy agreements. It would allow a surrogacy agreement to provide for payment of consideration and reasonable expenses and may include reimbursement for specific expenses if the agreement is terminated. A woman acting as a surrogate would have to be 21 years of age, have previously given birth to one child, and have independent legal representation throughout the surrogacy arrangement. The right of a woman to terminate her pregnancy would not be diminished by this act.
Sen. Van De Wege Yes
House Bill 1298, Prohibiting employers from asking about arrests or convictions before an applicant is determined otherwise qualified for a position
Passed the House on Feb. 7 by a vote of 52-46.
This bill would prohibit an employer from including any question on an application or inquiring into an applicant’s criminal background until after the employer initially determines that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position. It would also prohibit advertising job openings in a way that excludes people with criminal records and any policy or practice that automatically or categorically excludes individuals with a criminal record from consideration Prohibited practices would also include rejecting an applicant for failure to disclose a criminal record prior to initially determining the applicant is otherwise qualified.
Rep. Chapman Yes
Rep. Tharinger Yes
Senate Bill 6086, Protecting the state’s marine waters from the release of nonnative finfish from marine finfish aquaculture sites
Passed the Senate on Feb. 8 by a vote of 35-12 (two members excused)
This bill would phase out Atlantic salmon net-pen farming by prohibiting the state Department of Natural Resources from entering into a new lease or other aquatic lands use authorization that involves marine finfish aquaculture of Atlantic salmon. Additionally, the department would not be allowed to renew or extend an existing lease or use authorization that involves those same activities.
Sen. Van De Wege Yes