How our lawmakers voted— Feb. 21, 2018

  • Wednesday, February 21, 2018 1:30am
  • Opinion

Lawmakers worked late into the night and into the early morning hours in marathon floor sessions this past week, including a rare Saturday session in the Senate, to pass legislation ahead of last Wednesday’s deadline for bills to clear their originating chamber.

Except for budget measures, bills that did not make this cutoff deadline are likely dead for the 2017-18 legislative cycle.

Since the first regular session in 2017, more than 3,600 measures have been introduced and 369 have been signed into law.

In the current session, which is scheduled to adjourn March 8, more than 550 bills have passed at least one chamber so far.

Following is a selection of notable bills that passed their originating house this week.

Senate Bill 6199, Concerning the individual provider employment administrator program

Passed the Senate on Feb. 10 by a vote of 26-21 (two members excused)

Some 35,000 home health care workers currently contract with the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to provide services to the elderly and developmentally disabled children, but they are not full-fledged public employees, because they can be hired or fired by the people who actually receive services from them. In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court in its “Harris v. Quinn” decision ruled that home health care workers are not required to pay dues or fees to public sector unions, since they are not full state workers. This union-backed bill would make these workers private employees by outsourcing the state contracting functions to a private vendor. This private status would then allow unions to create a “closed shop” through which home-care workers would pay mandatory union dues or agency fees. The bill is now before the House Health Care and Wellness committee. A public hearing is scheduled for February 20th.

Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim) Yes

Senate Bill 6079, Exempting public employee dates of birth from public disclosure requirements

Passed the Senate on February 10, 2018 by a vote of 25-22 (two members excused)

This is another union-backed bill, which would make it more difficult to identify and contact specific state employees. Proponents say it is necessary to protect state workers from identity theft and other threats to their privacy. Opponents, including some in the media, say it is harder to hold public employees accountable, because birthdates are key to identifying specific individuals. The Freedom Foundation, a Washington state think tank that has advocated reducing the power of public-sector unions, says the bill would also make it harder to notify public employees of their legal right not to pay union fees. The bill is now before the House State Government, Elections and Information Technology Committee. A public hearing is scheduled for Feb. 20.

Sen. Van De Wege Yes

House Bill 2751, Concerning the deduction of union dues and fees

Passed the House on Feb. 12 by a vote of 50-48

Under current laws governing collective bargaining between certain public employees and employers, when an employee within a bargaining unit files a written authorization with the employer, the union has the right to have deducted from the employee’s salary an amount equal to fees and dues required as a condition of acquiring or retaining union membership. The fees and dues must be deducted each pay period, and the employer must transmit the deductions to the union. This bill would remove the requirement that written authorization to deduct union dues and fees be filed by workers with employers. The bill is now before the Senate Labor and Commerce committee, and a public hearing was scheduled for Feb. 19.

Rep. Mike Chapman (D-Port Angeles) Yes

Rep. Steve Tharinger (D-Sequim) Yes

Senate Bill 6353, Concerning procedures in order to automatically register citizens to vote

Passed the Senate on Feb. 10 by vote of 34-13 (two members excused)

This bill would provide for automatic voter registration of applicants for enhanced driver’s licenses or identicards. It would also eliminate the day and month of birth from Washington’s public voter rolls, but an amendment to the bill would still allow disclosure of a voter’s birth year. The bill was referred to the House State Government, Elections and Information Technology committee

Sen. Van De Wege Yes

House Bill 1513, Concerning the collection of youth voter registration sign up information

Passed the House on Feb. 12 by a vote of 52-46

This bill would permit voter pre-registration of 16- and 17- year old citizens, automatically qualifying them to vote in the first election following their 18th birthday. It would require social studies teachers and county auditors to coordinate voter registration events on Temperance and Good Citizenship Day in history or social studies classes for high school seniors. Bills to allow pre-registration for teenagers have passed the House five times in the last five years, including this bill during the 2017 session, but they were not considered in the Republican led Senate. With Democrats now controlling that chamber, leaders say a vote in the Senate is likely this session. The bill was referred to the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations and Elections committee.

Rep. Chapman Yes

Rep. Tharinger Yes

Senate Bill 6052, Eliminating the death penalty and instead requiring life imprisonment without possibility of release or parole as the sentence for aggravated first degree murder

Passed the Senate on Feb. 14 by a vote of 26-22 (one member excused)

This bill would end capital punishment in Washington state, providing instead that all persons convicted of Aggravated First Degree Murder must be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release or parole. Opponents of the bill tried unsuccessfully to add exceptions for the first-degree murder of a police officer, or a corrections officer, and the bill was debated passionately before it passed on a close, but mixed partisan vote. Five Republicans voted with the majority, and four Democrats voted “No.” The bill was referred to the House Judiciary committee.

Sen. Van De Wege No

House Bill 2595, Concerning procedures in order to automatically register citizens to vote

Passed the House on Feb. 12 by a vote of 50-48

This is the companion measure to the Senate’s voter registration bill with essentially the same provisions. It is currently before the Senate Committee on State Government, Tribal Relations and Elections

Rep. Chapman Yes

Rep. Tharinger Yes

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