We recently passed two key deadlines here in the House – one for policy committees last week and another for fiscal committees this week.
So you can imagine it’s been very hectic around here. Those of us in budget committees worked late nights to hear and vote on as many bills as we could, but many pieces of legislation did not make it to the next step. This means those bills are likely dead for this session. With one exception: bills considered necessary to implement budgets remain alive and can be voted on up until the very last day of session.
Now that the cutoff deadlines are behind us, we’ll spend most of next week on the House floor debating and voting on bills. Senators are going through the same process with their bills.
Legislation passing off the House floor will then go to the Senate for their consideration, just as Senate bills will cross the rotunda for consideration by House committees.
For the status of any bill, please visit http://app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo
Three of my bills made it through the cutoffs and are moving forward:
HB 1332 – Concerning Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) operations
This bill takes a deep, comprehensive look at the enabling authority of the EFSEC and streamlines the site certification application process without sacrificing environmental protections. It expands representation of tribal communities in the energy facility siting process and creates a stronger ongoing partnership with local governments. Siting clean energy projects is a critical aspect of advancing a diverse, clean energy future.
HB 1375 – Concerning campaign contribution limits
Remember the 2017 port commissioner race that amassed more than $650,000 in campaign contributions from just two organizations? That’s what prompted me to introduce this bill looking to level the playing field for all port races in the state.
Current law limits campaign contributions for port races that have over 200,000 registered voters in the district. Only the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma meet that threshold. My bill will apply those same limits to all port district offices regardless of the number of registered voters.
It’s really about fairness, transparency and accountability because it’ll make sure that our port districts follow the same laws as everybody else. Like the Legislature, ports are public entities, accountable to the public, so we need to ensure that port districts are responding to constituents and not special interest groups.
HB 1994 – Concerning transportation projects of statewide significance
This bill is designed to save time and money on an Interstate 5 bridge replacement process. This designation would expedite permitting and allow a preexisting process to be used when necessary. This bill creates an efficient regulatory pathway for large transportation infrastructure projects; it will expedite the process of replacing the current I-5 bridges across the Columbia River.
Here are some other bills I support that made it past the deadlines:
Protecting Pedestrians and Bicyclists
More people in our area and throughout the state are getting out of their cars and using alternative methods to get around.
However, the law to protect pedestrians, bicyclists and other people traveling without a car has not kept up with the times.
Ensuring that motor vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians are safe on the road, and that they are following the rules, is essential to keeping everyone safe.
I am supporting a measure that updates the rules for when motor vehicles pass pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vulnerable roadway users, and increases the fine for when someone follows too closely or fails to yield. It also refines the rules for bicyclists and pedestrians to promote safer conditions.
Making Presidential Primaries count in Washington
We are considering a bill to give Washington a bigger voice in national elections by moving up the date of the presidential primary from May to the second Tuesday in March.
Washington spends around $12 million for a nominating process that comes too late to have any meaningful impact. By the time Washingtonians select candidates, the nominee is already decided because enough other states have already voted.
This change also has the potential to elevate the concerns of the people in our state all the way to the White House. Prospective candidates would be more inclined to visit Washington and think of us when setting the national agenda.
An Informed and Engaged Citizenry: Ballot Return Dates
Last year, the Legislature passed a slate of bills to help eliminate barriers to voting, simplify the voter registration process, and ensure ALL eligible voters have better access to democracy.
This year, those efforts continue with a bill requiring the date of the election to be prominently displayed on the envelope in which voters receive their ballots. This visual reminder will help voters keep track of when they need to return their ballots. It’s a small change that can make a big difference in helping to increase voter turnout. Even sweepstakes offers have a clear “return-by” date – shouldn’t our ballots have this as well?
Click on the image below to watch my latest ASK SHARON video, where I talk about expanding access to Internet and bills to address housing and homelessness:
Thank you for reading my newsletter. If you need more information on any legislative issue, or want to give me some feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact my office.