A TikTok ban, a bridge toll and a sort of end to masking

It’s Day 85. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

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2023 Washington Legislature, Day 85 of 105

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com | @dospueblos

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OLYMPIA, April 3, 2023 — Welcome to a new week and a new month.

And say goodbye to the last piece of Washington’s mask mandate. Starting today, the state Department of Health encourages, but no longer requires wearing of face coverings inside health care, long-term care and adult correctional facilities. This is for people age 5 and older.

COVID-19 isn’t gone. Individual facilities and providers can keep mask-wearing rules in place if they want. Several of the industry’s big names are doing so.

They will continue to require masking in acute care and outpatient clinic facilities per a joint statement. Among the signatories were executives of Providence Swedish Puget Sound Region, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, University of Washington Medicine, Overlake Medical Center and Clinics, Kaiser Permanente and EvergreenHealth.

Banning TikTok

Nearly half the states have banned TikTok from state agency devices. Not Washington. At least not yet.

Republican state Rep. Drew Stokesbary will make a run at it today when the House debates the chamber’s proposed operating budget.

He’s dropped an amendment to provide $50,000 to the Consolidated Technology Services Agency to ensure the app is not installed or used on state-issued computers and devices. Looks like he’s crafting a bill too. Keep watch for that.

I had been wondering why this hadn’t been a thing before in the session. Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration apparently looked into it. His deputy chief security information officer reportedly reached out to peers in other states in December for data on risk assessments, according to this report. No request legislation emerged.

The state Department of Transportation uses TikTok with some success as public radio reporter Scott Greenstone detailed in January.

The House plans to take up the budget at 1:30 p.m. today.

A toll bridge to Portland

If a new bridge is ever built on I-5 across the Columbia River into Oregon, you’ll pay a toll to cross it.

Senate Bill 5765, introduced late last week, names the bridge a “toll eligible facility” and lays out dos and don’ts of how it would work. For example, tolls could be charged for travel only on the existing and replacement bridges and not on any portion of Interstate 205 in Washington.

A whole bunch of things, which will take a whole bunch of time, need to happen such as securing funds, building it and inking a deal with Oregon on the amount of tolls.

This bill is moving quickly. The Senate Transportation Committee had it teed up for a vote this morning. Clearly lawmakers want to complete this task this session.

Gun, abortion measures this week?

Tuesday is cut-off for action on legislation with a price tag. The Senate Ways and Means Committee and House Appropriation Committee are looking to vote on roughly 150 bills combined by the deadline.

Then, starting Wednesday, both chambers hit the floor as April 12 is the deadline for House bills to pass the Senate and vice versa. This covers basically everything left on the table but the budgets. Prepare for late nights and the weekend.

Majority Democrats need good clock management. A protracted debate on one bill means they may have no time for another.

I won’t be surprised if there are votes this week on bills imposing new rules for buying guns, banning the sale of assault weapons and protecting those seeking and providing abortions as those are caucus priorities which could absorb a few hours.

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