Peninsula’s state legislators differ on gun bill

Measure would prohibit large-capacity magazines

EDITOR’S NOTE: This has been corrected to reflect that the bill dealing with electrical power was House Bill 1211. The incorrect bill was cited in the original story.

OLYMPIA — The North Olympic Peninsula’s three Democratic state legislators weren’t on the same page on gun legislation as the 2019-21 legislative session passed its first do-or-die threshold Friday for most bills to make it out of committee in the Senate and House.

The deadline for House fiscal committees and Senate Transportation and Ways and Means committees is Friday.

The legislators of the 24th District — which covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and the northern half of Grays Harbor County — differed on a broad prohibition on high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

SB 5062 would prohibit a person from manufacturing, possessing, distributing, importing, transferring, selling, offering to sell or purchasing such a large-capacity magazine.

The bill had already passed muster Jan. 25 in the Senate Committee on Law and Justice, heading to the Senate Rules Committee on a strictly party line vote — four Democrats in favor, three Republicans opposed.

State Sen. Kevin Van De Wege of Sequim, the House assistant majority whip before being elected to the Senate in 2016, said he was against legislation favored by his Democratic Party colleagues on the committee.

The bill criminalizes handgun owners with weapons that carry more rounds than those allowed by the legislation, Van De Wege said.

“At this time, I would be a no on it,” he said.

Van De Wege also remains convinced there are not enough votes in the Senate to pass it out of the chamber.

“Most handguns have a capacity built into the handle of more than 10 rounds.

“I don’t see any way I can support it.”

Rep. Steve Tharinger of Port Townsend also questioned if the Senate legislation will make it to the House.

That deadline comes up March 13, the last day for lawmakers to pass bills in their house of origin.

Tharinger supports the legislation, he said.

“I don’t think multiple magazines are used in hunting,” he said. “I don’t see any need for them to be out in the public.

“That does seem to be one of the reasons we end up with multiple deaths like Las Vegas, for example.

“I just don’t see a reason to have those.”

Rep. Mike Chapman of Port Angeles said he, too, supports the Senate legislation.

“I might want to work with law enforcement and retired law enforcement officers who are in good standing,” Chapman said.

“There could be a law enforcement exemption.”

Another bill that survived the cut Friday was HB 1211, supported by all three 24th District legislators.

Hydropower, mentioned as an energy source in the bill, has long been championed by North Olympic Peninsula utilities that depend on Bonneville Power Administration hydroelectric power to supply thousands of customers with electricity.

The bill would establish the clean energy transformation act, addressing the elimination of cola-fired electricity and the transition of the state’s electricity supply to 100 percent carbon neutral.

It would affect the requirements of the Energy Independence Act, or Initiative 937, which mandate that renewable energy must total 15 percent of a utility’s customer load by 2020 for utilities serving at least 25,000 retail customers.

Currently, hydro eligibility for purposes of fulfilling I-937 “is limited to incremental generation due to efficiency improvements, made after 1999,” according to the state Department of Commerce.

An amendment by Van De Wege to SB 5116, which passed on to the Rules Committee on Thursday, would provide credits for additional energy that results from the Bonneville Power Administration upgrades facilities to deliver energy more efficiently in pursuit of fulfilling the goals of the act.

“This change would be very beneficial to the PUDs and is something we would support,” Doug Nass, Clallam PUD general manager, was cited as saying in a press release from Van De Wege’s office.

HB 1211 has been referred to House Environment and Energy Committee.

“It seems like it does make sense,” Tharinger said.

Chapman said it would be the first time state law includes the broad definition of hydropower as a clean energy source, a goal pursued and unmet in past legislative sessions.

“We have some of the cleanest, most renewable energy on Earth,” Chapman said of hydropower.


Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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