Inslee signs new bills on catalytic converters, hazing and more

The governor also cleared the way for an Indigenous persons alert system, with highway messages like a “silver” alert.

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OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee is expected Thursday to sign supplements to the state’s operating and capital budgets that will pour billions of additional dollars into education, health care, transportation and housing.

Lawmakers approved a two-year, $59.1 billion operating budget last April. The supplemental plan in front of Inslee adds roughly $6.2 billion in new spending in the budget cycle that runs through June 30, 2023.

Among the big adds are a $2 billion transfer to a multi-year transportation package, $650 million to the capital budget, $350 million to shore up the paid family leave program and $232 million for raises and one-time retention payments for state workers.

There are specific provisions of $341,000 for two more Snohomish County Superior Court judges and $5.6 million to Snohomish County to assist refugees from Afghanistan.

The supplemental capital budget contains $1.6 billion in new spending, of which $300 million is earmarked for providing housing for those with low incomes. A priority is to fund projects to get homeless people out of encampments and into some form of shelter.

Also Thursday, Inslee will be at the Tulalip Resort Casino in the morning to sign House Bill 1725 creating a missing Indigenous persons alert system. When activated, an alert will broadcast information about a missing Indigenous person on highway message signs and distribute details to law enforcement agencies. It will be similar to “silver” alerts issued for missing vulnerable adults.

Meanwhile, Inslee signed dozens of bills into law Wednesday, including:

Senate Bill 5741, creating the “Patches Pal” license plate to honor television clown J.P. Patches and sidekick Gertrude. “The J.P. Patches Show” aired from 1958 to 1981 on KIRO-TV. The man with the painted face and patched jacket was Chris Wedes, of Edmonds, who died in 2012. Proceeds from plate sales will benefit Seattle Children’s Hospital.

House Bill 1616, expanding eligibility for receiving free or discounted hospital care under the state’s charity care law. Patients at large hospitals, like Swedish Edmonds and Providence in Everett, will be eligible for some level of financial assistance if their household earns less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. Patients at smaller hospitals will qualify if they earn less than 300% of the poverty standard.

House Bill 1815, targeting a rise in catalytic converter thefts by imposing new restrictions on owners of scrap metal businesses that purchase used ones. It bars on-the-spot cash payments. Instead, purchases will be made by check. And those looking to sell a catalytic converter must be able to prove they own the vehicle from which it came.

House Bill 1751, addressing hazing at colleges and universities. Students, as part of their orientation, will receive instruction on the dangers of hazing, which is outlawed at public and private colleges. Higher education institutions will be required to publicly report findings of hazing violations.

Senate Bill 5761, requiring employers, starting Jan. 1, 2023, to include the salary range in job postings, as well as a general description of the benefits and other compensation. It would apply to businesses with 15 or more employees.

Information on every bill Inslee acts on can be found under “Bill Action” on the governor’s web page, governor.wa.gov.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dospueblos.

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