Dear friends and neighbors:

The 2018 Legislature adjourned last Thursday. It was the first time since 2014 that we finished on time and the first time since 2008 that we completed all of our budgets without the need for a special session. Our new Democratic majority in the Senate entered the 60-day session with a progressive agenda focused on putting people first. In cooperation with our colleagues in the House and with great effort by and support from advocates from around the state, I think that we succeeded!

In this newsletter, I would like to focus on policy issues that we worked on this year. In the coming days, I plan to send a summary of the supplemental operating, capital and transportation budgets we passed in the final days of the session, including our work on education funding.

Reducing gun violence

Reducing violence associated with firearms is among my top priorities in Olympia. Although much work remains, I am proud to say that the legislature passed more gun safety laws this year than in my previous 11 years combined. Nearly 1,000 people came down to Olympia to attend public hearings in the Senate Law & Justice Committee on these issues, by far the most for any hearing in the Legislature this year. Here are the bills that passed this session:

  • A ban on bump stocks, the device used in the Las Vegas massacre to give a semi-automatic rifle the rapid-fire capability of a machine gun. (ESB 5992)
  • Adding domestic violence harassment to the list of conditions that prevent people from being able to buy a firearm. (ESB 6298)
  • Legislation to allow anyone struggling with mental illness to place themselves on a firearms do-not-purchase list. (ESSB 5553)
  • Reforms to the concealed pistol license process to make sure that licenses are taken away from people with stalking and other protective orders and are not returned to holders without a new background check. (EHB 2519)

Parentage Act updates

For the last three years, I have chaired a drafting committee of the national Uniform Law Commission to update the Uniform Parentage Act in light of the United States Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision. The new Parentage Act will help protect same-sex couples and their families around the country. I am proud that Washington became the first state to enact this law (with Vermont, Rhode Island, California, and Delaware working this year to follow us). ESSB 6037 will:

  • allow the non-biological mother in a lesbian couple to confirm her status as a legal parent through a one-page “acknowledgement of parentage” and avoid a costly and intrusive second-parent adoption;
  • permit compensated surrogacy arrangements, with substantial regulatory protections for women acting as surrogates, intended parents, and children born of surrogacy;
  • give children born through assisted reproduction access to information about their egg or sperm donors when they reach age 18; and
  • codify Washington’s law that protects the relationship between children and people who are not biological or adoptive parents but function as parents (“de facto parents”).

Visitation by Grandparents and Other Relatives

Since a United States Supreme Court decision in 2000 striking down Washington’s law, our state has been the only state in the country with no way for grandparents or others who have been denied access to children by their parents to seek court review of that denial.  I have been working on this issue for 10 years and am very proud that the legislature passed ESB 5598 this session. While giving a strong presumption that decisions by fit parents are correct and in the best interest of their children, it will create a process by which relatives who have an ongoing and substantial relationship with a child can petition a court to seek visitation.

Police Use of Deadly Force

One of the great achievements of the legislative session happened in the final hours. Law enforcement groups and the coalition of community groups comprising DeEscalate Washington reached agreement on changes to state law on the use of deadly force by police. I was proud to shepherd the agreement through the Senate Law & Justice Committee and across the Senate floor. Gov. Inslee signed HB 3003 into law last Thursday.

The agreement seeks to improve the relationship between law and enforcement and the communities they serve. The new law removes the “actual malice” requirement from the current deadly force statute and changes the language to create a fair, objective standard for police accountability. It also provides for better training, conflict de-escalation, and accountability – as well as a safer environment for police officers and the people who interact with them. We hope that this law will be a model for the rest of the country to follow.

Condo and Homeowners Associations

I have also been working for nearly 10 years with a dedicated group from the Washington State Bar Association to correct deficiencies in the laws governing homeowners associations.  This session, the legislature passed ESSB 6175, the Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act, which will create a new and modernized structure for creation, governance, and consumer protection in condominiums, homeowners associations, and cooperatives. The law will apply to all newly formed communities and also to any existing communities that choose to opt in to its provisions.

Progress in 2018

House and Senate Democrats worked closely together to advance an ambitious legislative agenda this session.  Here are few of the more than 300 bills that we passed over the last two months:

Stay in touch

With the Legislature adjourned, I am looking forward to spending time with my family and heading back to my day job. I am also looking forward to seeing and hearing from you about issues you care about. Although we made dramatic progress in many areas, I am painfully aware of our failure to address carbon pollution, abolish the death penalty, fix the individual health insurance market, and create a system to provide long-term care for our seniors, among other critical issues. We have only nine months until the 2019 session, when I hope to be back at work on solving the many problems that our state faces.

Best wishes,

Senator Jamie Pedersen
43rd Legislative District
(360) 786-7628