Monthly Archives: February 2018

11 02, 2018

Senate votes to increase protections for victims of domestic violence

February 11th, 2018|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – The Senate today passed legislation introduced by Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, to increase protections for victims of domestic violence.

Senate Bill 6298 would add harassment to the list of domestic violence crimes that prohibit a convicted batterer from possessing a weapon.

“More than half of all women murdered with guns in the United States were killed by intimate partners or family,” Dhingra said. “We are helping to protect survivors of domestic violence and ensuring they don’t become causalities.”

In the state of Washington, nearly all individuals convicted of domestic violence offenses lose their right to possess a firearm until that right is restored by a court of law. SB 6298 will ensure the state holds all perpetrators of domestic violence equally responsible, including those convicted of harassment.

“Crimes of domestic violence are some of the hardest to prosecute, and the most deadly call that law enforcement officers respond to,” Dhingra said. “This bill will help us keep weapons out of the hands of those who are likely to misuse them. The legislation is very narrowly tailored to impact only those individuals who have been convicted in our courts.”

The legislation is supported by the City of Seattle, the City Attorney’s Office, the Washington Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

SB 6298 passed in the Senate by a strong bipartisan vote of 34-13.

11 02, 2018

Senate passes Dhingra bill to protect children from young mistakes

February 11th, 2018|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – The Senate today passed legislation introduced by Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, to bring state law into the 21st century and help protect our children.

 

Washington law currently makes no distinction between minors who make, send or possess sexually explicit images of themselves and minors who maliciously send images of others. The result is that penalties are severe. Under current law, any minor sending an image of themselves to another person his or her own age could face felony charges, up to five years in prison, and mandatory sex offender registration.

“As every parent knows, kids sometimes make mistakes,” Dhingra said. “We hope the mistakes they make become opportunities for learning and growth. Children today face a new set of challenges as evolving technologies have opened the door to mistakes that can haunt them for the rest of their lives.”

Senate Bill 6566 does not alter existing safeguards like harassment protections or a prosecutor’s ability to make a special allegation of sexual motivation. Additionally, it directs the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs to establish a workgroup to study the harms caused by the exchange of intimate images by minors and report its findings to the Legislature.

“Teenagers should not be labeled sex offenders and felons for sending intimate pictures of themselves to someone they know,” Dhingra said. “This bill ensures that kids are held responsible but have the opportunity to learn and recover from their mistakes, while still holding accountable those who distribute explicit photos of others.”

Senate Bill 6566 passed with strong bipartisan support by a vote of 31-16.

11 02, 2018

Senate passes Hasegawa bill to avoid institutional racism

February 11th, 2018|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA — Future legislative proposals will be assessed for disproportionate or unintended impacts on racial and ethnic populations, under legislation passed today by the Senate.

“Passing this bill is an important step towards understanding if institutional racism is embedded in proposed bills before we vote on them,“ said Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Beacon Hill and the sponsor of SB 5588. “I have been working on addressing racial disparities for quite some time, and passing this bill off the floor is great news for people of color across Washington.”

SB 5588 would require racial and ethnic impact statements to provide statistical analysis of the effects of proposed legislation on racial or ethnic populations. The legislation focuses on laws with felony implications, but Hasegawa hopes to later expand the scope to include higher education, human services, government contracting, and other areas that often see racial disparities.

“Conversations about race and racial disparities are tough to have but are extremely necessary. We talk a great deal about addressing racial disproportionality at the Legislature, and yet we often have no understanding of how new policies may specifically impact communities of color,” Hasegawa said. “It is incumbent that those with power and privilege understand the needs of communities often left out of the legislative process. The fact that this bill was passed almost unanimously by both Democrats and Republicans shows real progress.”

The bill passed will only one member voting ‘no,’ it now moved to the House for further consideration.

7 02, 2018

Legislation phasing out youth detention for non-criminal offenses passes Senate

February 7th, 2018|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Landmark legislation to phase out detention of minors for status offenses such as truancy, running away from home, and other non-criminal behavior today passed out of the Washington state Senate.

Washington currently incarcerates more youth than any other state in the country by a significant margin. Senate Bill 5596 would phase out the use of juvenile detention for status offenders by July 1, 2020.

“In 2016, over 1,700 young people were incarcerated for non-criminal behavior in our state,” said bill sponsor Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma. “The logic of existing law, that we ought to take kids out of school for failing to attend, is backward. Now is the time for our state to rectify a broken system that has been proven to inflict more harm than good on our young people.”

During the phase-out period leading up to full implementation, the bill requires status offenders in detention to be separated from juveniles detained for criminal offenses.

“Our system is simply not working for the young people and families of our state who are in desperate need of additional resources to address serious obstacles they may be facing in their lives,” added Darneille. “This legislation sends a clear message that incarceration is no longer an acceptable avenue for addressing the barriers our children face on the path to becoming healthy participants in our society.”

SB 5596 passed on a bipartisan 26-22 vote and now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

6 02, 2018

Video: Carlyle lauds carbon tax as strong investment in energy

February 6th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Watch Sen. Reuven Carlyle’s remarks on Thursday as chair of the Senate Energy, Environment & Technology Committee ahead of its vote on Thursday on Senate Bill 6203, Gov. Jay Inslee’s carbon tax proposal.

“The global trend around the world is for a modest, thoughtful carbon pricing effort that invests in energy,” Carlyle said. “How we invest matters…. The fundamental value of considering legislation in the Legislature in your representative democracy is to attempt to customize, in a thoughtful and responsible way, very complex and important policies.”

The bill would tax the sale or use of fossil fuels, and the sale or use of electricity generated from them.

The Committee passed the bill Thursday evening. It will now move to the Senate Ways & Means Committee for further consideration before it can go before the full Senate for a vote.

5 02, 2018

Week 5: Senate floor action heats up

February 5th, 2018|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA — As we reach the mid-point of the 2018 session, Senate Democrats remain focused on policies that put people first. Last week, the Senate passed several measures that protect and improve women’s health care with bipartisan support, including the Reproductive Parity Act which had been blocked by Senate Republicans since 2013. The Senate Energy, Environment & Technology Committee also took a big step toward a cleaner future by passing a plan to put a price on carbon pollution. On Monday and Tuesday of this week, expect to see a flurry of hearings on dozens of bills in the Senate Ways & Means Committee as the Legislature faces a Tuesday deadline to move bills out of fiscal committees. The remainder of the week will focus on floor action as the full Senate considers a long list of bills before a Feb. 14 deadline to move all bills out of the Senate.

Click here for a list of bills passed by the Senate so far in the 2018 session.

Monday

Ways & Means, 10 a.m., Senate Hearing Room 4 Full agenda as of 2/4 – Subject to change

Public Hearing:

  • SSB 5689 – Establishing a statewide policy supporting Washington state’s economy and immigrants’ role in the workplace.
  • SSB 5407 – Ensuring housing options.
  • SSB 6253 – Establishing a clean, efficient, renewable energy standard.
  • SSB 6314 – Extending the existing state property tax exemption for residences of senior citizens and disabled persons to local regular property taxes.
  • SSB 5935 – Enhancing consumer access, affordability, and quality of broadband and advanced telecommunications services.
  • SSB 6161 – Establishing a training course for campaign treasurers.
  • SB 6201 – Making the open educational resources project permanent.
  • SSB 6421 – Updating the environmental and sustainability literacy plan.
  • SSB 6410 – Concerning school safety.
  • SSB 6388 – Concerning paraeducators.
  • SB 6389 – Regarding career and technical education in alternative learning experience programs.
  • SB 6184 – Adding part-time employees to state civil service.
  • SSB 6026 – Prohibiting health carriers and pharmacy benefit managers from using contracts to prevent pharmacists from telling their customers about cheaper ways to buy prescription drugs.
  • SSB 6150 – Concerning opioid use disorder treatment, prevention, and related services.
  • SSB 6102 – Enacting the employee reproductive choice act.
  • SB 6549 – Expanding the access to baby and child dentistry program to serve children with disabilities.
  • SSB 6129 – Concerning an ambulance transport quality assurance fee.
  • SSB 5970 – Establishing the mental health field response teams program.
  • SB 6491 – Increasing the availability of assisted outpatient behavioral health treatment.
  • SB 6573 – Establishing the capacity to purchase community long-term involuntary psychiatric treatment services through managed care.
  • SSB 6160 – Revising conditions under which a person is subject to exclusive adult jurisdiction and extending juvenile court jurisdiction over serious cases to age twenty-five.
  • SSB 6277 – Creating a graduated reentry program of partial confinement for certain offenders.
  • SB 6283 – Repealing an expiration date that affects state fire service mobilization.
  • SSB 6453 – Concerning legal support for kinship caregivers.
  • SB 6309 – Extending the timeline for completing a family assessment response.
  • SSB 6223 – Concerning equitable educational outcomes for vulnerable children and youth.
  • SSB 6502 – Concerning eligibility for the essential needs and housing support and the aged, blind, or disabled assistance programs.
  • SSB 6539 – Ensuring compliance with the state’s fiduciary duty in managing state trust lands.
  • SB 6109 – Concerning the International Wildland Urban Interface Code.
  • SSB 6413 – Reducing the use of certain toxic chemicals in firefighting activities.
  • SSB 6396 – Concerning the use of perfluorinated chemicals in food packaging.
  • SSB 6268 – Creating the orca protection act.
  • SSB 6386 – Ensuring the funding of fairs.
  • SSB 6529 – Establishing a modernizing pesticide notification work group.
  • SSB 6199 – Concerning the consumer directed employer program.
  • SSB 6360 – Improving transition planning for students in special education who meet criteria for services from the developmental disabilities administration.
  • SSB 6101 – Establishing the evergreen free college act.
  • SSB 6262 – Establishing pilot programs to plan for the needs of certain college students experiencing homelessness.
  • SSB 6246 – Providing for approval of school district bonds by fifty-five percent of the voters voting.
  • SJR 8213 – Amending the Constitution to allow at least fifty-five percent of voters voting to authorize school district bonds.
  • SB 6480 – Concerning local government infrastructure
5 02, 2018

Rural broadband bill approved by Senate committee

February 5th, 2018|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – A bill designed to expand access to broadband services in rural communities throughout the state was approved Thursday by the Senate Energy, Environment and Technology Committee.

Senate Bill 5935, sponsored by Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, creates a new state Office on Broadband Access, launches an advisory group and directs it to identify barriers and opportunities for superfast Internet and 5G service. The measure also provides funding for immediate action on deployment. The measure is cosponsored by the committee’s chair, Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle.

“Superfast broadband service is just around the corner, and we need to make sure rural communities are not left behind as new technologies are deployed,” Sheldon said. “Access to high-speed service is just as important in rural areas as it is in the state’s biggest urban markets. This legislation will help ensure everyone shares in the benefits high-speed service will provide.”

Carlyle added: “Everyone is in favor of high quality, affordable broadband but we continue to have too many small communities and rural areas without quality service. Sen. Sheldon has taken strong action to kick deployment of broadband into high gear for the 15 percent of our state population without service. I’m excited to partner together to get this important bill to the governor’s desk.”

The committee’s vote Thursday sends the bill to the Senate Ways & Means Committee.

The new Office on Broadband Access, under the governor’s office, would coordinate public and private efforts for broadband access and deployment. It would develop goals for high-speed broadband service and identify underserved areas of the state. The legislation sets a target of at least 25 mbps download speed and 3 mbps upload speed, to be increased as technology advances.

The broadband office would establish a competitive grant program for local governments and tribes seeking to build broadband infrastructure in underserved areas of the state. Funding would come from existing taxes paid by telecommunications providers and federal grants. The office is directed to consider tax incentives for commercial providers deploying new technology in rural areas. The advisory group would make recommendations on a statewide rural broadband strategy.

Under the bill, the Kitsap County Public Utility District would be allowed to offer internet services where commercial services are inadequate or not available. Cities of more than 5,000 people would be required to develop ordinances setting standards for deployment of new small-cell technology, and generally would be barred from requiring land-use permits. The broadband office would develop a model ordinance for use by local governments.

Sheldon and Carlyle were recognized in December by the Association of Washington Cities for their work on the broadband issue. Sheldon noted the governor’s support for rural broadband efforts.

“All of us recognize the importance of broadband to this state’s economic development,” Sheldon said. “None of us want this state to be divided between internet ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots.’ ”

2 02, 2018

Keiser’s bills to address sexual harassment pass out Senate committee

February 2nd, 2018|Radio|

Senate Labor & Commerce Committee Chair Karen Keiser discusses sexual harassment policy advancing out of committee. (TRT: 52) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD.

The Senate Labor & Commerce Committee passed three legislative measures to address sexual harassment in the workplace. Senate Bills 5996 and 6313, introduced by Committee Chair Karen Keiser of Des Moines, would prohibit employers from limiting an employee’s right to file a complaint—and prohibit them from requiring employees to sign a non-disclosure agreement as a condition of employment. A third measure, Senate Bill 6471, directs the Human Rights Commission to develop model workplace policies.

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines: (TRT: 26): CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “So we’ve created a bill that will allow to generate and create model policies, and that’s not just training.  That’s not just telling people what not to do. That doesn’t work, we found out. We need to change culture in the workplace and that means having a safe and secure way to report sexual harassment without retaliation and repercussions. This is not easy, but we need to do it.”  

The legislation awaits consideration in the Senate Rules Committee.

I’m Sharlett Mena, in Olympia.