OLYMPIA — Voters will get a chance to really shake up membership in the state Legislature this fall, if they are so inclined.
Possibilities for change abound with all 98 seats in the House and 25 seats in the Senate up for election.
Soon, we in the class of pundits will prognosticate on forces and factors that might influence the electorate and determine the outcome of contests.
One will be lawmakers’ decision to remove themselves from the duties of the state Public Records Act in favor of a separate and less rigorous disclosure protocol of their own design.
Thousands of Washingtonians aren’t happy about it and want Gov. Jay Inslee to veto the bill. As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, his office reported receiving more than 8,100 emails and more than 4,300 calls from people opposed. And The Herald editorial board has said that if the governor vetoes the bill, any lawmaker voting to override it will be disqualified from getting the paper’s endorsement.
This isn’t the only issue consuming the attention of lawmakers and the public, and won’t be the only one on voters’ minds.
Below are a few other things lawmakers have done or might do before the session ends March 8. I could use some help figuring out if any of these could be a deal-breaker for a voter.
Tell me, would any of these matters incite you to vote incumbents out of office or to keep them in?
Bump stock ban: It will soon be illegal to make, sell, own or possess a bump-fire stock, a plastic attachment that allows semiautomatic weapons to fire like fully automatic models. Under a bill making its way to the governor, the manufacture and sale of the devices is prohibited starting July 1. A year later, bump stocks will be considered contraband and in most instances subject to seizure by authorities.
Abortion mandate: This legislation would require health plans that cover maternity care or services to also cover the voluntary termination of pregnancy. And those plans must cover contraceptives. It’s been atop the agenda of the governor and Democrats in both chambers and is awaiting a vote in the House.
Same-day registration: You will soon be able to walk into a county auditor’s office on the day of an election, register as a voter then cast a ballot. This change will start with the November 2019 election under a bill heading to the governor’s desk.
Car tab relief: Lawmakers promised to ease the pain of soaring costs of car tabs in the Sound Transit taxing district. It hasn’t happened yet. The House and Senate each have an approach and are working to bridge the gap and keep their promise.
Eliminate the death penalty: This is close to happening but hasn’t yet. A bill to get rid of capital punishment passed the Senate. It is now in the House where its fate is unclear, as there are members who think voters should be given a chance to weigh in.
Buying military-style rifles: This is a work in progress. There is a new bill to require a person be at least 21 to buy a semiautomatic rifle and that a full state background check be done on those seeking to buy one of those rifles. Many Democrats would like to use their majorities in each chamber to get this through before time runs out.
Property taxes: In 2017, lawmakers increased the statewide property tax rate. In February, property owners got their bills and were shocked to see how much they owed. Members of both parties are devising a way to provide temporary relief this year or next. Meanwhile, this fall will be the first time lawmakers will be on the ballot since the increase took effect.
This is a short list. If your vote is going to be tied to something different, let me know.
It’ll help in developing accurate forecasts for the coming electoral season.