Washington State House Democrats


Sells’ 3/15/17 Update: Equal Pay / Family bills / Hanford / Voting / Nurse breaks / Distracted driving

House of Origin Cutoff

To survive the House of Origin Cutoff, bills must be passed out of the chamber where they were introduced.

The House of Origin cutoff deadline was Wednesday, March 8, at 5 p.m. With some exceptions –primarily bills that are necessary to implement the budget– the House is now turning its attention to bills, passed by the Senate, that are being referred to House committees. The next few weeks we’ll be busy with more public hearings.  Over in the Senate, they’ll be doing the same thing, holding hearings on bills we sent them.

Remember, you can sign up for email updates from committees so you can keep up with what is happening in your state legislature. And you can also look up specific legislation to see its latest status.

In the days leading up to the cutoff deadline, my colleagues and I spent long hours on the House floor. These are some of the bills we passed:

Equal Pay

The Equal Pay Opportunity Act was the last bill considered on the House floor last Wednesday—which was International Women’s Day—right before the deadline. It passed on a 61-36 vote and is now in the Senate. I hope it gets a public hearing and, eventually, the support of the Senate to finally send it to the governor’s desk. This is the third year in a row that the House sends a version of this legislation to the other chamber. Read more…


Women and family-focused bills

A couple of weeks ago we passed a package of four pieces of legislation, including Pregnancy Accommodations (HB 1796), Shared Leave for Pregnancy (HB 1434), Consistent Access to Birth Control (HB 1234), and Preventive Health Services (HB 1523); that will make a difference in the lives of many Washington women. Some of the issues in these measures have gone through the legislative process in the House before only to meet their demise in the Senate.  Sponsors, supporters and advocates hope 2017 is the year they make it to the governor’s desk. Read more…

Hanford workers

In my February 17 e-newsletter, I wrote about the problems Hanford workers are facing to get their claims approved to get adequate treatment for conditions that resulted from working at the nuclear site.  I am relieved to report that we passed HB 1723 out of the House with bipartisan support. Now it’s the Senate’s turn to lend these workers a much needed hand and send the bill to Governor Inslee’s desk.


Removing barriers to the ballot

Because voting is a fundamental American right for all citizens, we are working to remove barriers to the ballot for all eligible voters.

Many people register to vote when they renew their driver’s license. But a 16- or 17-year-old who gets a license can’t register to vote at the same time.  We passed HB 1513 to authorize the Department of Licensing and other agencies to provide registration services under the federal Motor Voter Act to 16- and 17-year-olds so they can preregister to vote.  The day they turn 18, the registration would take effect. This bill will establish a statewide process to encourage Washington’s youth, the future leaders of our democracy, to engage in the electoral process.

Patient safety and worker fairness

Last week we passed HB 1715, described during floor debate as “the pre-eminent patient safety bill of the session.” It addresses what has been an ongoing issue for frontline nursing staff in hospitals, many of whom work 12+ hour shifts without breaks. The bill would provide for uninterrupted meal and rest breaks, and prohibit the use of prescheduled on-call time to fill foreseeable staff shortages. Read more…

distracted driving

Strengthening distracted driving laws

Another bill we passed out of the House last week will strengthen Washington’s current distracted driving laws. HB 1371 prohibits operation of a phone or other personal electronic device with more than one finger while driving. So even if the device isn’t held up to the ear, it can no longer be held and operated in one hand. It also increases the fine for distracted driving, nearly doubling it for repeat offenses. The Senate passed a similar measure. Now each bill will be considered by the opposite chamber. Proponents are pushing to get one of them to the governor’s desk for signature this year, and help make our roads safer for everyone.

You can read more about these bills in an article published by the Seattle Times.

If you need additional information on any of these bills, or any other legislative issues, please contact my office. And please know your comments, ideas and feedback are always welcome.