Cocktails-to-go, parental rights and what clergy must report

It’s Day 101. Here’s what’s happening in the final days of the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

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2023 Washington Legislature, Day 101 of 105

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: | @dospueblos

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OLYMPIA, April 19, 2023 — Welcome to Wednesday. We’re midway through the final lap of the 2023 session.

Budgets aren’t here, yet. Final resolution on taxes isn’t clear either. Or maybe it is.

A few lawmakers and lobbyists gasped aloud Tuesday upon hearing Democratic Sen. Jamie Pedersen, of Seattle, sound the death knell for House Democrats’ proposed real estate excise tax hike. News to many in that caucus. We’ll see soon.

Clergy and consent

Keep an eye on the House and what it does on Senate Bill 5280 which would add clergy to the list of individuals mandated to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

The version approved by a unanimous Senate said clergy do not have to report information obtained in the confessional. The House removed that exemption. Senators didn’t agree, concluding what is said in the confessional, stays in the confessional. The Spokesman-Review’s Jim Camden covered it here.

Next move lies with the House.

Meanwhile, this morning, the Senate gave final approval to Senate Bill 5599, which opponents contend undermines the role and power of parents.

This one deals with providing youths who are homeless or who have fled difficult situations with emergency shelter. State law wants parents notified when their child arrives at such place. The law lays out “compelling reasons” not to do so and instead inform the state Department of Children, Youth and Families.

This bill expands the list of compelling reasons to include “when a minor is seeking or receiving protected health care services” defined as gender affirming treatment and reproductive health care services.

It’s spurred tough debates and resulted in votes along party lines.

And on Friday, opponents hope to fill the steps of the Capitol to demonstrate their opposition.

Conservative Ladies of Washington are planning the “Protect Our Children, Stand For Parental Rights” rally from 3-5 p.m. It is described as “a protest” of parent alienation, gender surgeries for minors and child grooming.

“Stand with citizens of all walks of life, all political affiliations and backgrounds, to demand Washington lawmakers STOP this assault on our children,” reads a Facebook post. “We are not “anti” any person or groups of people. This is strictly about protecting innocent and vulnerable children from state sanctioned kidnapping.”

A ban worth passing twice

The Senate had so much fun debating the proposed assault weapons ban on Holy Saturday, it decided to do it again Tuesday.

Same arguments for, same arguments against, and same result, passage of House Bill 1240. Twenty-eight Democrats said yes, 20 Republicans and one moderate Democrat, Kevin Van De Wege, said no.

Senators landed in this spot because the House didn’t concur, ruled changes made by the Senate out of order and sent it back for a redo.

Everything should be good now and majority Democrats can push their trifecta of firearm-related bills onto Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk. House Bill 1143 extending the waiting period to obtain a newly purchased gun, and Senate Bill 5078, dealing with holding firearm makers and dealers liable, cleared both chambers in recent days. Keep watch as Inslee could sign as early as Thursday.

Quarantini time extended

Cocktails-to-go arrived in the pandemic. They’re sticking around for a while longer.

A temporary law allowing restaurants, bars, and taverns to offer curbside service and delivery of alcohol products expires June 30. But legislation heading to the governor would still allow restaurants and distilleries to offer beer, wine or pre-mixed drinks with any to-go or delivery of a purchased meal. This extension runs through June 30, 2025.

Meanwhile, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board must come up with recommendations for allowing alcohol deliveries permanently and in a way that ensures the booze ends up in the hands of only those legally old enough to drink. Its work is due this winter.

She’s back, almost

Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, is eyeing a return to the front line for the final weekend. She’s been out several days after what was supposed to be “a very simple” sinus surgery turned out to be not simple at all. But a damaged vein behind her right cheek required unplanned visits with specialists and unexpected follow-up surgery to repair.

On the bright side, she said, nurses at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett were “grateful for hearing their voices” and passing the bill to improve staffing levels in hospitals.

She missed votes for the first time in her tenure. Not happily. ”If I had to vote from the hospital bed, I’d have figured out a way to do it,” she said Tuesday.

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