New state laws affect guns, hospital costs

License plate fees also go up in measures that went into place Friday

Several new laws are now in effect in Washington state.

Measures that became law on Friday range from gun restrictions to a big jump in vehicle license fees to an expansion of those who can receive free or discounted hospital care.

Hospital care

House Bill 1616 establishes minimum charity care requirements for hospitals, guaranteeing free hospital care to 1 million people statewide who are currently eligible for discounted care, and it expands discounted care to an additional 1 million statewide.

All Washingtonians within three times the federal poverty level are now eligible for financial support.

The legislation establishes two tiers of assistance — one for large health care systems, which make up about 80 percent of hospital beds, and another for smaller independent hospitals, which are primarily in rural areas.

Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles has announced it has expanded its sliding scale for its financial assistance program for services on or after Friday.

The financial assistance sliding scale is based on family size and income. Patients who qualified for small discounts before will now qualify for large discounts moving forward.

Patients who previously fell into the hospital’s 80 percent, 60 percent or 45 percent approval brackets now qualify for 100 percent discounts. Those who fell into the 30 percent or 40 percent discount bracket now qualify for 75 percent or 50 percent.

For more information, call 360-417-7111 or 800-854-2844.

Ammunition magazines

The sale, importation, manufacturing and distribution of ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds are banned in Washington state by implementation of Senate Bill 1078.

The only magazines allowed for sale and importing are those with a maximum capacity of 10 cartridges.

Violations will be a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in county jail and a maximum fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Larger magazines owned as of Friday are unaffected by the law.

The Second Amendment Foundation and other gun rights organizations filed a federal lawsuit this month, claiming it violates constitutional protections under the Second and Fourteenth amendments.

“Many of the most popular handguns and modern semiautomatic rifles come standard with magazines that hold more than 10 rounds,” said Alan Gottlieb, the foundation’s founder and executive vice president.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson has said he will “vigorously defend” the new law.

“All seven federal appellate courts to consider laws that ban the sale of high-capacity magazines upheld these laws as constitutional,” he said.

Washington state joins nine other states, including California and New Jersey, that restrict magazine capacity size.

Ghost guns

House Bill 1705 places new restrictions on untraceable firearms, commonly known as “ghost guns,” which don’t have serial numbers, making them untraceable during law enforcement investigations.

Ghost guns are homemade firearms built by buying individual components, or as a kit, and can be purchased online without a background check.

The law also prohibits the manufacturing, selling, transferring or purchasing of firearms or gun kits without serial numbers.

Washington state’s new law comes as new federal regulations will make it illegal to possess firearm components without serial numbers.

License plate fees

Motorists now pay more for a Washington license plate.

The fee increase is part of a $17 billion bill to pay for transportation projects, Senate Bill 5483.

The price of a new plate rises from $10 to $50, while replacing a lost plate increases from $10 to $30. For motorcyclists, the cost of a license plate goes from $4 to $20 and a replacement costs $12, also up from $4.

Money from license-plate fees has gone to a fund used for work on the state’s roads and highways. The additional money from the fees will go into an account earmarked for projects in the new transportation package.

The transportation package invests $16.9 billion over 16 years in projects throughout the state.

Indigenous Alert

The Washington State Patrol has launched the new Missing Indigenous Person Alert system.

It will broadcast messages on signs and the highway advisory radio system and also notify all Washington law enforcement electronically.

It’s similar to an Amber Alert for children or a Silver Alert for seniors.

HB 1725 was created to establish a first-of-its-kind in the nation alert system for missing Indigenous peoples.

The system will be activated if the person’s disappearance is unexplained, involuntary or suspicious, if there is enough identifying information to help with the person’s recovery, and if the missing person has been reported to law enforcement.

The law attempts to address a crisis of missing Indigenous people — particularly women.

Clean energy incentives

House Bill 1988 creates a retail tax deferral program for some clean technology investment projects.

This is meant to provide businesses with the ability to delay their use and sales taxes.

The bill also includes a pause in sales tax for installing, constructing, repairing or improving electric vehicles, until July 1, 2025.

Senate Bill 5714 creates a tax deferral program for solar canopies in large commercial parking lots and similar spaces.

The owner of the canopy may qualify for a reduction of state and local sales and use taxes to be repaid, but to be considered, the electrical grid needs to remain connected for at least eight years.

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