Democrats target guns and ammo in late-night lawmaking push

Here’s what’s happening on Day 33 of the 2022 session of the Washington Legislature.

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2022 Washington Legislature, Day 33 of 60

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: | @dospueblos

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OLYMPIA, Feb. 11 — Welcome to Friday. Yawning a lot today? No surprise with all the late-night legislating.

A Saturday session looms because Tuesday is the cut-off to get House bills to the Senate and vice-versa. Depending on one’s perspective, there is a hefty to-do or not-to-do list in each chamber.

And they’ve done a lot already.

Guns and ammo

As Nathan Chen skated for gold, Senate Democrats on Wednesday powered through a bill banning the sale of high-capacity firearm magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. It passed 28-20, with Republicans locked up against it.

This is a big deal. It’s been on the Democrats’ wish list for years but never cleared the floor of either chamber until now. Getting it through the Senate signals that Democrats do not fear it will hurt them at the polls this year.

Next up is the House, where Democrats were fired up to vote on a ban in 2020. Until Republicans filed more than 120 amendments. Given the proximity to that year’s cut-off, Democratic leaders opted to not bring it up for a vote. We’ll see if they blink this year.

Then, Thursday night, while my eyes teared up watching snowboard legend Shaun White make his final Olympic run, House Democrats did flex their muscles to outlaw making, possessing and selling untraceable firearms, aka ghost guns. Republicans put up 23 amendments, pushing the debate past midnight, before the decisive 57-39 party-line vote.

They’re not done talking guns. A bill barring open carry of firearms at ballot counting centers and local government meetings awaits action in the House.

Big tab for pandemic’s big toll on youth

Educators will tell you their students are racked with anxiety, anger and frustration, evidenced by a rise in disruptive behavior in classrooms and around campuses.

In response to this mental health crisis, lawmakers intend to send districts money to hire more nurses, social workers, psychologists and counselors over the next three years. House Bill 1664 also require that each public school have at least one nurse and one counselor on site.

The projected cost is $88 million for the current budget. That rises to $534 million in the next budget and $740 million in the one after that. This is not cheap, nor is it partisan. This measure passed 73-23.

Housing search

Rep. Shelley Kloba wants to keep representing the 1st Legislative District. To do so, the Democrat must move, and soon.

Kloba was drawn out of her district in the new political maps the Legislature signed off on this week. Her Kirkland neighborhood ended up in the 45th District, where Democrats already hold legislative seats. She has no desire to challenge them.

She’s searching for new digs, looking to be settled before May, when she intends to file for re-election.

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