We've nearly reached the halfway mark of the 2022 legislative session. Thursday, Feb. 3, was policy committee cut-off, meaning all bills had to pass out of their respective committees in their chamber of origin. Any bill that didn't make it through committee, will most likely not be approved this year.
There are exceptions. All bills with fiscal notes must be approved by their committee in their chamber of origin by Monday, Feb. 7, except bills necessary to implement the budget, which have till the end of session.
Now that we've reached this important point in the legislative process, we have a better idea of what is going to move forward, including the legislation I've been working on.
Updates on My Sponsored Legislation
I introduced several bills that offer real solutions to several real problems in Washington. Some of those bills passed out of their respective committees and are moving forward, while others are unlikely to pass this session.
House Bill 1655 would provide a huge lift to our truck drivers and keep our roads safe. I'm happy to report the House Transportation Committee passed this legislation. Commercial motor vehicle parking shortages are a national safety concern. Washington state exacerbated the problem in the fall of 2021 by closing many state-owned and operated safety rest areas. HB 1655 would decrease fatal injuries by opening of safety rest areas for all drivers who need a place to stop when they are tired.
House Bill 1657, another bill aimed at helping our truck drivers, has bipartisan support and nationwide attention. It unanimously passed out of the House Finance Committee this week. The bill would help reduce emissions and safety risks caused by inadequate commercial truck parking. We need to support our drivers, and this legislation would do that by increasing the state's truck parking supply through tax incentives.
These are some of the articles that have been written in support of these two bills:
Another bipartisan bill I introduced, House Bill 2077, is aimed at helping victims of human trafficking. This legislation would require human trafficking informational posters to be placed, at a minimum, in bathroom stalls of safety rest areas, by Jan. 15, 2023. It is scheduled for a vote in the House Transportation Committee by Monday, Feb 7.
Public Safety Bills:
I also introduced House Bill 1656, which would change the definition of theft. Unfortunately, it was not passed out of committee. This bill received high praise from the committee chair just moments before we we're to cast our votes. However, he received a phone call from Democratic leadership in that very moment, ordering him to kill the bill. It's unfortunate that partisan politics will again prevent this sensible legislation from passing.
As you already know, I've been working to change the definition of theft for several years. Under current state law, loss prevention officers and law enforcement officers can't apprehend a suspected shoplifter until the person has exited the establishment with the merchandise. Under this legislation, concealment would be included in the definition of theft. Here is some of the media coverage on this bill:
Additionally, last session, I introduced House Bill 1292, but it never received a hearing. This bill would criminalize the act of knowingly providing pornographic and other harmful materials to a minor by anyone 18-years or older. Unfortunately, the House Public Safety Committee again chose not to give this common-sense policy a hearing.
Finding Balance in New Policing Laws
There has been some progress with our efforts to change the bad police reform bills passed last year. However, nothing has passed the full House yet that would fix House Bill 1054, which only allows pursuit in a few, narrow instances such as for a violent crime. There could still be something coming from the Senate, so stay tuned.
There have been some bills introduced to change House Bill 1310, which limits the circumstances under which police can detain suspects.
House Bill 1735 passed last week, but it mainly affects the civil side of use of force and is mostly intended for those experiencing a behavioral or mental health crisis. Unfortunately, this bill does not include a definition of what constitutes physical force. On the other hand, House Bill 2037, which does provide a definition, was passed out of the House Public Safety Committee on Thursday.
Another bill that would bring some “fixes” to the legislation passed last year, is House Bill 1788. It would allow law enforcement officers to conduct vehicular pursuits with reasonable suspicion that a person has committed or is committing a crime. An amended version of the bill also passed out of committee on Thursday.
Please stay tuned to my updates, and I will keep you posted on the latest news regarding these and other public safety bills.
The Latest on Emergency Powers Reform
This has been an ongoing issue for nearly two years and I have been calling for reform for almost as long. House Republicans have presented several ideas to restore the Legislature's voice to the decision-making process during this pandemic. The governor continues to ignore us.
However, there could be some positive movement. Rep. Chris Corry, R-Yakima, testified in the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee this weekon House Bill 1772. This legislation would allow the governor to act quickly during an emergency but limit that executive authority to 60 days. If more time is needed, the Legislature could add on another 60 days, and do that as many times as needed.
The Senate also heard a bill that would put some limits on the governor's emergency powers. Senate Bill 5909, which is being sponsored by a Democrat, would allow the four legislative leaders — the minority and majority leaders in the House and Senate — to cancel a state of emergency after 90 days. Time will tell if either of these bills makes it to the governor's desk. However, he does not support emergency powers reform, so if one of these bills does reach his office, he might veto it.
No matter what happens, we will continue to push for reform so your voice can be heard through the Legislature in this important matter.
Follow Me on the Radio and TVW
If you want to follow me more closely, you can check out my weekly interview on iFiberOne KMAS Radio. Just tune in every Thursday morning to the Daybreak show. If you want to catch it later, you can listen to any of my radio interviews on SoundCloud.
Additionally, I will be appearing on TVW's Inside Olympia program next week to discuss the ongoing efforts in Washington to help those with substance use addiction, including my efforts and real solutions to help these individuals. This program will air Thursday, Feb. 10 at 7:00 p.m. and again at 10:00 p.m.
Republicans Introduce New Text Alert System
There's a new way to stay up to date on the latest news and information in the Legislature, directly through your cell phone, via the House Republicans' new text alert system. Just click here, or on the image below to sign up.
Thank You and Please Stay in Touch
As we move forward this session, please continue to reach out to me via email, phone, or Zoom. I'm here to represent you and my door is always open. My top priority is to represent you and bring real solutions to our state's biggest problems. We all need to work together to find common ground and be successful. Your ideas and input will help us do that. Thank you for your continued support. I could not serve effectively without it.
It's an honor to serve you!