Wednesday marked a key legislative deadline in Olympia as lawmakers faced a 5 p.m. cut-off to move bills out of the chamber of origin. Here’s a roundup of key bills that lived to see another day and others that didn’t fare as well.
Dream Act: A bill that would increase access to higher education for students who are undocumented immigrants cleared the House just minutes before the 5 p.m. deadline Wednesday. House Bill 1817 would extend the State Need Grant program, which provides aid to low-income college students, to undocumented graduates of Washington high schools. The proposal applies to students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival status under the federal DREAM Act.
Inlsee’s climate change bill: The Senate passed a measure requested by Gov. Jay Inslee that would create a working group that can hire a consultant to create a cost effective strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Senate Bill 5802 passed 37-12, but not before Sen. Mike Carrell (R-Lakewood) delivered a fiery speech in opposition to the bill. Carrell said the legislation uses “pseudo science” to make assumptions about climate change. “I have no problem with the earth warming right now… but the thing is you’re making assumption that it is CO2 causing the earth to warm. The opposite could be the warming is causing the release,” Carrell said. A similar bill has cleared the House.
Reporting use of restraints in school: A bill that would require teachers and schools to report incidents of restraint or isolation of a student cleared the House. The bill would require the principal to tell parents about the disciplinary action within 24 hours.
Social networking passwords: A bill that would prohibit companies from asking job applicants for passwords to social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter was passed unanimously by the Senate. Supporters say Senate Bill 5211 is about protecting privacy rights.
BILLS LIKELY DEAD:
Universal background checks: Despite days of closed-door negotiations, a bill that would require background checks for private gun sales never made it to the floor for a vote. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle), was not able to round up enough votes in the Democratic-controlled House to support the measure, even with help from Gov. Jay Inslee.
Repealing family medical leave act: A bill that would have repealed Washington’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act never made it to the floor on Wednesday. The bill would have eliminated the 2007 act, which gives new parents paid leave of up to $250 a week for five weeks. It was never implemented due to lack of funding. Sen. John Braun (R-Centralia), who sponsored Senate Bill 5159, argued that the current law is a liability and will never be funded. Sen. Karen Keiser (D- Kent) introduced her own bill which would fund an expanded version of the original act. It died in committee.
Training wage: A bill that would allow some businesses to pay new employees less than minimum wage did not come to the floor for a vote Wednesday. Senate Bill 5275 would establish a training wage equal to the federal minimum wage or 75 percent of the state minimum wage — whichever is higher. It would apply to a new employee’s first 680 hours on the job.
Toll revenues: A bill to hold back toll increases on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge never made it to the Senate floor, despite the efforts of the Democratic minority caucus on Tuesday. Senate Bill 5592, sponsored by Sen. Nathan Schlicher (D-Gig Harbor), would limit the amount of toll revenues spent on the operating costs of the toll bridge and help hold down the need for toll increases.
Erasing misdemeanor marijuana offenses: A piece of legislation that would allow people convicted of misdemeanor marijuana offenses to have the crime speedily removed from their records never made it to the floor for a vote. House Bill 1661, sponsored by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien), would have created a method to have the convictions removed without waiting the standard three-year period.