OLYMPIA — The first gate has closed on dozens of bills on their pathway to becoming law.
Wednesday’s policy committee cutoff stopped bills from this year and last. Bills that haven’t been considered by a policy committee at this point have much less of a chance to make it to the governor’s desk.
Could these dead bills have improved public safety, reduced opioid deaths, improved equity and education and solved all the state’s problems? For now, I guess we won’t know.
The next cutoff is for the fiscal and transportation committees and it’s just days away, on Monday. Appropriations and Ways and Means members are both convening Saturday to get ahead of the deadline.
Here is a glimpse at some bills put to rest this week…
Don’t ditch the switch
A proposal from Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, would have kept Washington on Pacific Standard Time year-round.
Senators heard the bill in the State Government and Elections Committee last month. Doctors and researchers spoke in favor of the bill, saying the one-hour switch two times per year can be damaging to circadian rhythms and sleep health.
It isn’t the first time lawmakers have tried this. In 2019, the Legislature passed a law that would keep the state in daylight savings time all year. However, it needed congressional approval, but federal lawmakers never acted.
Switching to Pacific Standard Time doesn’t require a green light from the feds.
Punishing drug use
A bill sponsored by Rep. Sam Low, R-Lake Stevens, would have made it a felony to expose children under 13 to drugs like meth and fentanyl.
Public drug use around anyone is currently just a gross misdemeanor. House Bill 2002 would have ramped it up to a Class C felony under certain conditions.
The bill failed to get a public hearing before Wednesday’s cutoff.
A Democrat-backed bill, House Bill 2030, failed to pass out of committee, but not before getting some heat from Republican legislators.
Rep. Tarra Simmons’ bill would have only revoked voting rights for people convicted of a crime punishable by death, essentially restoring the rights of all those currently incarcerated.
“Here in America, we take away the right to vote and its very much rooted in racism,” she told a House committee last month. “Other countries don’t take away your right to vote when you are convicted of a crime or sent to prison.”
Along with the right to vote, the bill would have also allowed incarcerated individuals to run for office and serve on a jury.
In its public hearing, Low argued it would allow Gary Ridgway, known as the Green River Killer, to have his rights restored. Ridgway is currently incarcerated at the Walla Walla State Penitentiary.
Simmons, D-Bremerton, is Washington’s first formerly incarcerated state representative.
A measure from Sen. Jesse Salomon, D-Shoreline, would have legalized psilocybin, a psychedelic found in some mushrooms. The bill would have made it available for veterans and first responders over the age of 21.
Last year, a bill from Salomon passed to create a pilot program to study psilocybin as a treatment for veterans and first responders with PTSD, depression and substance use disorder.
But this year, Salomon’s Senate Bill 5977 failed to get a public hearing before the cutoff.
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