Bills I’m Hearing About – Voting Rights, Erin’s Law, Solar and Front License Plates

I’m getting a lot of mail about a handful of policy bills that did not pass during the regular session. While most of them seem like reasonable policy to me, it’s difficult to imagine that the Legislature will come to agreement on them at this point since we were unable to in the regular session or the first special session. From today we have 10 days until the end of the fiscal year to agree on a budget, and every iota of work is going into coming to agreement on that.

The Legislature has ruthless deadlines to ensure that we can get our work done on time. ALL of these bills have passed all the deadlines and regardless of their importance it would be extraordinary if they came up for a vote by the end of the session.

HB 1745 Voting Rights Act

This bill implements key elements of the federal voting rights act for state and local elections. Some election systems are set up in ways that seem to have pernicious effects on the ability of people of color to get elected locally, even though they have a significant fraction of the electorate. I support this bill and have voted for it several times. It passed the House and died in the Senate.

I expect to continue voting for it until it passes.

 

HB 2183 – Erin’s Law

This creates a task force to write a curriculum on preventing sexual abuse for our K-12 system and requires school districts to teach “a” (but not necessarily this one) curriculum on the topic. The bill didn’t get a hearing in the Education committee, on which I do not serve, so I didn’t have a chance to vote for or against it. In general it’s a good idea to teach kids about ways to prevent sexual abuse and I’m not opposed to providing a model curriculum to school districts, though I do worry about the legislature’s predilection to add little bits of required instruction on topics that we are interested in. I think there is some relevancy about ensuring that every child has access to a core curriculum covering the major topics, but we are not the school board in the sky to control every aspect of instruction at each level.

I’d probably vote for the bill if it came up, but the chair chose to take up other issues. It is unlikely to move forward this year given the lateness.

1912 – Concerning distributed generation (Solar)

I’ve received a lot of mail about HB 1912, which re-ups a program originally designed in 2005 to incentivize solar installations on homes and larger commercial buildings. It’s working, and the precipitous drop in solar panel costs is driving a large expansion of the program. Some parts of it expire, and the bill extends some provisions while setting up a more reasonable cost framework to allow the systems to pay off in an appropriate amount of time.

As I understand it there is a fight between an out-of-state company and a bunch of local installers that have competing bills. I haven’t quite figured out who prefers which version of the bill, though almost all of my mail is in support of the current version of HB 1912. I’m working my way through the details of a very complex bill. If you have more substantive feedback I’d love to understand what you’re thinking.

1664 – Front License Plates

This was introduced January 26th this year and referred to the Transportation committee, of which I am not a member. The chair of that committee didn’t schedule it for a hearing, and it did not come up for a vote. I think the State Patrol has big concerns about not having a plate on the front of vehicles and this generates enough opposition to kill the bill, but I’m not quite sure why it doesn’t pass. As I said above, I don’t serve on Transportation so I don’t have the opportunity to vote one way or the other. If it came to the floor I’d be happy to vote for it.

You can track the history of bills like this on our public website, which is how I figured out what happened to it. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1664&year=2015

About the Author

Ross
I am the Director of the Department of Early Learning for Washington State. I formerly represented the 48th Legislative District in the State House of Representatives, chairing the Appropriations committee and spent many a year at Microsoft.

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