How did our lawmakers vote?

House Democrats last week released their version of the 2019-21 state operating budget. After working late into the night on March 27, the House Appropriations Committee passed an amended version of the budget bill, Substitute HB 1109, out of committee and onto today’s floor calendar for debate and vote by the full House.

The House on March 29 passed a proposed $10 billion Transportation budget for 2019-21. The Senate released its nearly $52.2 billion state operating budget proposal on March 29 as well, and a hearing on the bill, SB 5153, was scheduled for 8 a.m. on Monday, April 1.

Earlier in the week, the Senate passed HB 1870 providing for federal Affordable Care Act mandates in state law, and HB 1074 raising the minimum age for tobacco and vapor products purchases to 21 years.

How local lawmakers voted:

House Bill 1160, Making transportation appropriations for the 2019-2021 fiscal biennium

Passed the House on March 29 by a vote of 90-5 (three members excused)

The bill would make appropriations totaling $9.952 billion for state transportation agencies and programs for the 2019-2021 fiscal biennium. Highway and infrastructure expenditures would total $5.3 billion and operating-related appropriations would total nearly $4.7 billion. Some of the larger appropriations for the fiscal biennium would include: $3.1 billion for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Highway Improvements program; $1.7 billion for debt service; $777 million for the WSDOT Preservation program; and $540 million for the Washington State Patrol. Supplemental changes to the current 2017-2019 transportation budget that would be made by the bill include decreases of $520 million in appropriated funds. The bill is now headed to the Senate for further consideration.

Rep. Mike Chapman (D-Port Angeles) Yes

Rep. Steve Tharinger (D-Port Townsend) Yes

House Bill 1870, Making state law consistent with selected federal consumer protections in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Passed the Senate on March 2 by a vote of 28-17 (four members excused)

This measure would make a number of provisions mandated by the federal “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (ACA) part of state law. Under HB 1870, Washington insurance plans would have to offer policies that cover pre-existing conditions, provide a wide range of benefits, limit out-of-pocket expenses a covered person must pay and eliminate lifetime limits on health care benefits paid by insurers, and other mandates under the ACA, often referred to as “Obamacare.” In support of the bill, Senate Democrats said that it was a way to assure that Washingtonians would not lose medical coverage promised by the ACA, as Congress and the administration continue to argue over health care coverage alternatives. Republicans, on the other hand, said passing the bill would mean supporting a national health care system that is failing to deliver on its promises of better access and lower premiums. The bill will now go back to the House to consider whether or not to accept the amendments passed by the Senate.

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

House Bill 1074, Protecting youth from tobacco products and vapor products by increasing the minimum legal age of sale of tobacco and vapor products

Passed the Senate on March 27 by a vote of 33-12 (four members excused)

Under this bill, which has now passed both the House and Senate and is headed to the governor for his signature, the minimum age for buying tobacco and vaping products in Washington will rise from 18 to 21 years beginning next year. Eight other states, including Oregon and California, and the US Territory of Guam also have raised the age to 21. The bill enjoyed bipartisan support, but Senate members on both sides of the vote expressed concern that the change in state law would not apply to Indian reservations, and those under 21 could still buy tobacco and vapor products in tribal shops there. Under current law, the governor has the authority to enter into tribal cigarette tax contracts regarding the sale of cigarettes, and some senators expressed the hope that tribal leaders would follow the state’s lead and raise the age from 18 to 21 for all tobacco and vaping products. The bill is headed to the governor for his signature into law.

Sen. Van De Wege Yes