Rep. Brian Blake’s Legislative Update – March 11, 2013
March 11, 2013 | By Washington House Democrats
These last few days have been long with late evenings and even Saturday working to pass bills on the Floor. But we have to do it this way. If we stuck to a 9-5 schedule, chances are we’d run out of time and many bills would die.
While it may seem like many of the bills we pass are unimportant to some people, they are vital to the folks who are affected by those legislations. Passage of some bills might mean a group of people get to keep their jobs, as is the case of HB 1071. My bill solves a solvency problem by expanding the business plan of salmonid hatcheries and allowing them to harvest chum salmon. With the proceeds from those harvests, these hatcheries can remain open and their workers can keep their jobs.
Each bill we pass heads over to the Senate for further consideration. We have until this Wednesday, March 13, to pass House bills. After that date, we will begin considering bills that we get from the Senate.
Here are my prime-sponsored bills that have been passed by the House and are in the Senate ready to face their next hurdle:
SHB 1071-Salmonid hatchery management: It passed the House unanimously on March 6, and has been scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources & Parks on Thursday, March 14 at 1:30 pm
ESHB 1199-Hunter safety: It passed the House unanimously on March 6, and was referred to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources & Parks, but has not been scheduled for a hearing.
SHB 1200-Seafood labeling: It passed the House unanimously on February 18, and has been scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources & Parks on Thursday, March 14 at 1:30 pm
WATCH MY LATEST VIDEO UPDATE!
This video update was shot in a small room close to the House Floor, instead of my office. You’ll notice the background is a little different. In the midst of this Floor activity marathon, I used a short break to keep you in the loop of what’s going on. I hope you watch it.
Below is a sampling of legislation that we passed out of the House last week:
House Democrats are focused on improving schools to build a better future for children. We approved several education bills at the beginning of last week, and more are making their way to a vote on the House floor before cut-off.
HB 1178 will give colleges of education more testing options when recruiting highly-motivated students into the teaching profession. It’s a key bill to get us closer to our goal of having a quality teacher in every classroom. HB 1251 will help the Opportunity Scholarship Board raise more money, which will give more students an opportunity to achieve their dream of a college education. Another important bill, HB 1336 will save lives by giving school personnel the tools and training they need to identify and respond to early warning signs of troubled youth. Teen suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-24 year-olds. We also passed HB 1424, which focuses on reducing the number of high school dropouts, and HB 1680, which aims to close the opportunity gap.
Safe, affordable housing
Everyone should have the right to a safe, secure, and affordable place to call home. Several measures passed this week will provide better protections for both renters and homeowners.
HB 1529 prevents discrimination against victims of domestic violence when they seek housing. It prohibits a tenant screening service from disclosing whether an applicant is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. HB 1617 requires landlords to exercise care in the safekeeping of duplicate keys to tenant dwellings. If these keys can be easily accessed by unauthorized individuals, the tenant could be at risk of harm. HB 1170 updates the property-tax-exemption program to help make sure that people on fixed incomes – such as low-income senior citizens, as well as disabled veterans and other people in need – aren’t being taxed out of their homes.
Voting and elections
A slate of voting and elections bills designed to improve voter participation and boost diversity among the men and women who hold elected office was also approved this week.
HB 1413, also known as the Washington Voting Rights Act, promotes equal voting opportunities and fairness in political subdivisions to improve representation of underrepresented groups by encouraging cities, towns and other local jurisdictions to switch from at-large elections to smaller districted elections. HB 1267 removes barriers to voter registration by changing registration deadlines from the current 29 days before the election to 11 days for both online and in-person registration. HB 1279 allows 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote when obtaining a driver’s license, giving them access to the “motor voter” system – the most popular method of voter registration in our state. HB 1103 moves the state along a timeline toward one uniform ballot design to lower elections costs and minimize potential voter confusion.
Access to health care
In coming years, Washington State’s health care providers will see an influx of new patients through both the expansion of the Medicaid program and the establishment of Washington Healthplanfinder – our state’s online health insurance exchange. House Democrats are advancing legislation to make sure our health care system is ready to handle the additional capacity.
HB 1155 supports the transition to electronic care by allowing prescriptions to be issued electronically – promoting both safety and efficiency. HB 1660 streamlines the administrative process for colleges and providers, so we can train nurses and doctors in a more efficient and timely manner. HB 1538 improves access to critical prescription drugs at convenient locations around the state. It allows nurses at local health centers or clinics to issue prescription drugs for the prevention and treatment of a communicable disease or family planning.
To find out where each bill is in the legislative process, you can go to the Bills Status Report, which lists the status of all the bills introduced both in the House and the Senate this session.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read my e-newsletters. I’ve gotten great feedback from some of you and I can’t tell you how rewarding that is!
Keep in touch,