2021 Washington Legislature, Day 96 of 105
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OLYMPIA, April 16, 2021 —Happy Friday. Grab your sunblock. It’s going to be warm out there.
This weekend’s forecast calls for sunny skies and no House or Senate floor sessions. But there will be lots of negotiating, with a possible budget deal emerging as early as Monday.
With 10 days, including today, until the gavel falls on the 2021 regular session, here are nine measures signed by Gov. Jay Inslee and one that will never reach his desk:
1. Juneteenth: Today, 10 days on the calendar are designated as legal state holidays. Soon, Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, will become the 11th. Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free, in 1865 in Galveston, Texas.
2. Curbside cocktails: One creative COVID-19 adaption allowed delivery and takeout service for alcohol. Bars and restaurants got the go-ahead to sell growlers, premixed cocktails, wine drinks and cocktail mixes, etc., in this manner. A new law extends those privileges through July 1, 2023.
3. Behind the wheel: Tens of thousands of people are on the verge of being able to get their driver’s license reinstated. They had their privileges suspended because they failed to pay fines for non-criminal traffic infractions. A soon-to-be-signed bill eliminates failure to pay fines as a cause for suspending someone’s license.
4. Electric avenue: When 2030 rolls around, every passenger vehicle bought, sold or registered in Washington should be electric. That will be a formal goal of the state under House Bill 1287. It is contingent on the state reaching a high bar of getting a road usage charge in effect for 75% of registered vehicles.
5. Business build-up: Speaking of goals, lawmakers unanimously set one to double the number of small manufacturing businesses and the number of women- and minority-owned manufacturing businesses in a decade. Here’s a piece on why it matters to many.
6. Cats and dogs: Once House Bill 1424 takes effect — 90 days after the end of session — no retail pet stores in Washington will be able to sell or offer for sale any dog or cat. If you are a retail pet store owner right now, no worries. The law exempts current businesses.
7. Felon voters: The right to vote will soon be automatically restored to persons with felony convictions once they walk out of prison. They’ll need to re-register. That can literally happen at the time of their release. They will no longer have to wait until completing their parole or paying their legal financial obligations.
8. Fake ballot drop boxes: It will be a gross misdemeanor to set up a container and misrepresent it as some kind of ballot collection site. This kind of thing hasn’t happened in Washington. This law aims to keep it that way. A conviction carries a fine and potential jail time.
9. Billy Frank Jr: Washington will send a statue honoring the late Billy Frank Jr., a Nisqually tribal member who championed treaty rights and protecting the environment, to the U.S. Capitol. A process will begin soon for replacing the state’s Marcus Whitman statue in the National Statuary Hall Collection with one of Frank.
10. Emergency powers: Republicans want to reset the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches during emergencies. They cannot get majority Democrats on board. House Republicans will attempt a procedural move Friday to force a vote on a bill to end a state of emergency declared by a governor after 60 days unless renewed by the Legislature. And it let the Legislature terminate a state of emergency on its own.
An alliance of progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans in the Senate pushed through legislation Thursday to reinstate penalties for simple drug possession. This is the first legislative response to the so-called Blake decision.
Senate Bill 5476 passed on a 28-20 vote. Democratic Sen. Manka Dhingra voted against it, in part because it removed provisions allowing possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use in favor of penalties. Here’s the vote:
Voting Yea: Senators Billig, Braun, Brown, Carlyle, Cleveland, Conway, Das, Dozier, Gildon, Hawkins, Hobbs, Honeyford, Keiser, King, Mullet, Muzzall, Nobles, Randall, Rivers, Rolfes, Sheldon, Short, Van De Wege, Wagoner, Warnick, Wellman, Wilson, C., Wilson, L.
Voting Nay: Senators Darneille, Dhingra, Ericksen, Fortunato, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hunt, Kuderer, Liias, Lovelett, McCune, Nguyen, Padden, Pedersen, Robinson, Saldaña, Salomon, Schoesler, Stanford, Wilson, J.
Excused: Senator Holy.
Next stop is the House, where many Democrats favor legalizing amounts for personal use.
Paull Shin, a street orphan in Korea who would go on to serve 15 years in the state Senate, has died. He was 85.
Shin represented the 21st Legislative District until resigning in 2014, revealing then that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Shin, who was adopted by Ray Paull, a U.S. Army officer, earned a doctorate from the University of Washington and would eventually serve as chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee.
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Beat reporters: Jerry Cornfield (Herald) | Rachel La Corte (AP) | Joseph O’Sullivan (Times) | Jim Brunner (Times) | Austin Jenkins (NW News Network) | Melissa Santos (Crosscut) | Sara Gentzler (McClatchy) | Laurel Demkovich (Spokesman-Review) | Jim Camden (Spokesman-Review)