EYE ON OLYMPIA: Bills move to opposite chambers

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

Last week was a pivotal one in Olympia as state lawmakers raced against a Wednesday deadline for bills to be considered in their house of origin.

“It’s cut-off week,” said Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim.

House members will spend much of this week “dealing with Senate bills,” while the Senate mulls the would-be laws that advanced from the House, Van De Wege said.

Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, said he had about a dozen bills pass out of the Senate, including “a fairly large education bill that takes a bunch of new money and clearly directs it on various programs that get outcomes.”

Among other things, SB 5330 addresses class sizes in kindergarten through third grade, mentoring for teachers and other programs to improve student achievement.

The bill is scheduled for Thursday hearing in the House Committee on Education.

Hargrove said most of his bills are “not really Earth-shattering things” but did pick out a few highlights in a telephone interview between meetings Friday afternoon.

Among them was a bill that requires applicants for a fishing guide license to provide a driver’s licence and business license, along with proof of first aid and CPR certification and liability insurance.

SB 5786 is scheduled for a Wednesday hearing in the House Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources.

State Rep. Steve Tharinger’s bill to establish a joint committee to study the needs of a growing 65-and-older population is scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health Care today.

The former Clallam County commissioner was the prime sponsor of the bill, which passed the state House by 89-8 vote
March 6.

Meanwhile, Tharinger’s bill to maintain tax credits for companies that purchase and burn “hog fuel” wood waste for energy passed the House with unanimous support March 6. It was referred to the Senate Ways & Means Committee.

Tharinger, D-Sequim, was one of 38 co-sponsors of a bill that would have required background checks for private gun transactions.

The bill, HB 1588, came few votes short of advancing from the House.

“I don’t think background checks would have affected Second Amendment rights,” said Tharinger, while driving home from Olympia on Friday.

Another Tharinger-backed bill that likely died in the House was HB 1919, which would have allowed county governments to enact a sales and use tax for such areas of public safety as law enforcement, criminal prosecution and fire protection without a vote of the people.

Tharinger also is supporting a bill to provide high school credit for students who perform community service work.

Van De Wege said he and Tharinger backed an early version of the Dream Act, which the House advanced Wednesday as HB 1817.

The bill “provides a more affordable and attainable route to college for immigrant children granted deferred action for childhood arrival status,” according to the bill’s digest.

A Van De Wege bill that would ban a certain type of toxic flame retardants from use in various children’s products is scheduled for a Tuesday hearing in the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment & Telecommunications.

Tharinger, Van De Wege and Hargrove each represent the 24th Legislative District, which includes Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County.

Tharinger said the remainder of the 105-day Legislative session is “going to be about the budget.”

Lawmakers are facing a $1.3 billion shortfall, not including money needed for a state Supreme Court-ordered requirement to increase funding to basic education.

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 17. 2013 6:07PM
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