By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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House Bill 1294, also dubbed the toxics bill or the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act, passed the state House of Representatives 72-25 last Wednesday.
The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, would prohibit the sale, manufacture and distribution of children’s products and upholstered furniture containing a type of chemical flame retardant known as Tris.
The bill passed by a wider margin Wednesday then it did last legislative session when 53 state Representative supported it and 43 opposed it on an effectively party line vote, according to figures from Washington Votes.
Van De Wege said Friday he sees the number of Republican representatives crossing the aisle to support his bill Wednesday as a good sign.
“With there being more support, I think it has a higher chance of passing [the Senate],” Van De Wege said.
State Rep. Steve Tharinger, a fellow Sequim Democrat, echoed that.
“That kind of vote will hopefully speak to the other chamber and get it to the governor’s desk,” said Tharinger, who voted for the bill.
Van De Wege said the next step for the bill is a hearing before the Senate committee on energy, the environment and telecommunications, though that will likely not be scheduled for a few weeks.
“The earliest the Senate committee would pick it up would be the fifth week of session, [in about] middle February,” Van De Wege said.
Van De Wege and Tharinger, along with State Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, represent the 24th Legislative District, which comprises Clallam and Jefferson counties and a portion of Grays Harbor County.
Van De Wege said he has been working closely with Hargrove and is hopeful Hargrove’s influence and experience as the second-most senior member of the Senate will help him shepherd the proposed legislation through the chamber.
“When [Hargrove] gets involved in legislation, that helps immensely,” Van De Wege said.
I think he really has a passion for this and concern about this stuff and will help guide it through.”
Hargrove, who has sponsored a companion toxics bill in the Senate, said he thinks a Senate version of Van De Wege’s might end up with some compromises in it but should remain mostly intact.
“I think things are looking pretty good that we’re going to get a pretty significant bill done this year,” Hargrove said.
“We’re working together to try to get this policy done.”
The Senate last session approved a scaled down version of the bill, Van De Wege said, though it died when an agreement could not be reached to reconcile the House-approved and Senate-approved versions of the bill.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.