How our lawmakers voted — March 7, 2018

  • Wednesday, March 7, 2018 1:30am
  • Opinion

Following last Friday’s hurried passage of SB 6617 to exempt themselves from public records disclosure requirements, legislators have worked late into the evening most days this week ahead of today’s deadline, the last day to act on bills passed by the opposite house.

Budgets, and matters necessary to implement budgets, are eligible to be considered until the scheduled final adjournment of the regular session next Thursday, March 8. Dozens of bills cleared both chambers by large majorities, but a number of measures remained contentious, and some will have to be worked out by legislative leaders through the conference committee process before a vote on final passage is taken.

Senate Bill 6617, Concerning records disclosure obligations of the legislative branch

Passed the Senate on Feb. 23 by a vote of 41-7 (one member excused)

The bill, as passed, specifies that the state Public Records Act (PRA) would not apply to the Legislature, its houses, members, employees, and agencies. Denial of a legislative records request would only be reviewable by the public records officers of the House or Senate, whose decisions are final and not subject to review by a court. The bill is retroactive, applying to all records requests and lawsuits under the PRA as of the effective date of the act.

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

Senate Bill 6617, Concerning records disclosure obligations of the legislative branch

Passed the House on Feb. 23 by a vote of 83-14, one member excused.

Lawmakers moved this bill from first introduction to final passage in two days without public hearings or committee action. The bill was delivered to the governor, and after nearly a week of public and editorial outcry, Governor Inslee vetoed the bill late Thursday evening. Legislative leaders have indicated that they would not try to override his veto.

Rep. Mike Chapman (D-Port Angeles) Yes

Rep. Steve Tharinger (D-Sequim) Yes

Senate Bill 6032, Making supplemental appropriations

Passed the Senate on Feb.23 by a vote of 25-33 (one member excused)

This is the Senate version of the supplemental operating budget that would increase General Fund spending for the 2017-19 biennium to $44.8 billion and total spending for all funds to $89.1 billion. It provides nearly $1.0 billion for schools, mostly for increased teacher salaries and offers a $431 million cut in state property taxes for 2019. Property owners around the state are getting much higher property tax bills as a result of changes the Legislature approved last June that raised the state levy rate. No new taxes are called for in this bill. The bill was sent to the House, which continued to work on its version through Friday evening.

Sen. Van De Wege Yes

Senate Bill 6032, Making supplemental appropriations

Passed the House on Feb. 26 by a vote of 50-46 (two members excused)

The House amended its original proposed supplemental spending plan, HB 2299 to add $1.0 billion for school worker salaries and made other adjustments, bringing its version of the General Fund operating budget for 2017-19 to nearly $ 44.1 billion and $88.5 billion in total funds appropriated. The House budget relies on a capital gains income tax, which would require a vote on a separate bill, HB 2967. That bill has not yet been scheduled for a vote. ?The House did not pass HB 2299 on Friday, but replaced SB 6032 as passed by the Senate with a striking amendment that is identical to the House bill. The bill was returned to the Senate which will either concur with the House amendment or send the measure to conference committee to reconcile the two versions.

Rep. Chapman Yes

Rep. Tharinger Yes

Senate Bill 5992, Concerning bump-fire stocks

Passed the Senate on Final Passage on Feb. 27 by a vote of 31-18

The Senate concurred in the House amendments and the bill was delivered to the Governor.

Sen. Van De Wege Yes

Senate Bill 6002, Enacting the Washington voting rights act of 2018

Passed the House on Feb. 27 by a vote of 52-46

The bill passed the Senate last January by a vote of 29-19 and was amended in the House. It would creates a state voting rights act to protect the equal opportunity for minority groups to participate in local elections and elect candidates of their choice. It would authorize courts to order appropriate remedies for a violation of the voting rights act, including redistricting within a political subdivision, and allows local governments to change their election systems to remedy potential violations of the act. The bill was returned to the Senate for concurrence action.

Rep. Chapman Yes

Rep. Tharinger Yes

Senate Bill 6199, Concerning the individual provider employment administrator program

Passed the House on March 1 by a vote of 50-0 (48 members not voting)

The bill, which passed the Senate earlier in February by a 26-21 vote, would shift the administration of home-health care workers from the Department of Social and Health Services to a private entity. Currently, these workers are not considered full state employees and thus, under a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, are not required to pay dues or representation fees to a public employee union. Under this bill, the individual care providers, including those that provide care for family members, would be part of a private employer organization subject to mandatory union dues or fees. Republicans refused to vote on the bill in protest to rulings by the presiding officer of the House that prevented them from offering amendments or discussing the implications of forced payment of union dues or fees. The bill will be forwarded to the governor for final enactment into law.

Rep. Chapman Yes

Rep. Tharinger Yes

Senate Bill 5991, Increasing transparency of contributions by creating the Washington state DISCLOSE act of 2018

Passed the House on Feb. 28 by a vote of 53-45

Passed in January by a 32-17 in the Senate, this bill was amended in the House to require certain nonprofit organizations participating in political campaign financing to report to the Public Disclosure Commission on its top contributors and its expenditures to political campaigns or groups. It creates reporting requirements under campaign finance and disclosure laws are for “incidental committees,” which are defined as any nonprofit organization, not otherwise reporting as a political committee that makes political contributions or expenditures in political campaigns. Each report must disclose the top 10 largest payments that exceed an aggregate of $10,000 in a calendar year, and any expenditure of $50 or more made to an election campaign, political committee, or other incidental committees. In committee testimony on the bill, concerns were expressed that there could be unintended consequences that will require reporting on non- political fundraising. The bill will be returned to the Senate for concurrence action.

Rep. Chapman Yes

Rep. Tharinger Yes

Senate Bill 5955, Concerning the collection of a motor vehicle excise tax by a regional transit authority

Passed the Senate on Feb. 28 by a vote of 30-14 (five members excused)

This is a “car tab relief” bill that would require a Regional Transit Authority (RTA), i.e. Sound Transit, to implement a motor vehicle excise tax calculation scale which more accurately reflects true car value. Under the bill, an RTA would also have to issue credit refunds to those who purchased tabs before Sept. 1, 2018. The bill was referred to the House Transportation committee and is scheduled for a hearing and executive session on March 3rd.

Sen. Van De Wege Yes is a project of the Washington Policy Center. Visit and check out our new Olympia news service, News, which is featured on the home page.

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