OLYMPIA — Legislation to ban high-capacity gun magazines isn’t dead yet.
The legislation was voted out of committees but did not reach the full floor of either the House or the Senate before the deadline for policy legislation and so the proposal was considered dead for this session.
But it was reintroduced Friday by Rep. Javier Valdez of the 46th Legislative District as House Bill 2947, a tax bill, which repeals two tax breaks and creates a buy-back procedure for those with magazines containing more than 15 rounds. Presented as a tax bill, it is still viable.
A public hearing on the measure is set for 8 a.m. Tuesday before the House Finance Committee.
Although he was a co-sponsor of the original bill, Rep. Mike Chapman, a Port Angeles Democrat who serves on the finance committee, plans to vote against it this week.
“I can’t support this process,” Chapman said Saturday. “It didn’t pass” by the policy bill deadline “and now to tie it to tax policy doesn’t feel right. … The public should know. This is not right.”
“If we open the door and say policy bills can live on then in essence our deadlines mean nothing.”
Chapman said that the controversial measure drew more than 2,000 emailed comments, both pro and con, to his office.
“This is patently unfair,” he said. “How are they going to have time to plan to come to Olympia?”
Chapman said he and his staff had answered a couple hundred of the emails, saying that he planned to work on it again next legislative session.
“Now I’m a liar,” Chapman said, adding that he had not known the new bill would be introduced.
“I apologize to those who got the email.”
Upsetting the normal rhythm violates public trust, he said.
“I would like to find an answer to reduce these high capacity magazines, but this is not the right way to do it.”
Rep. Steve Tharinger, D-Port Townsend — another cosponsor of the original bill — agreed.
“I support the issue but not this process,” he said.
Both Chapman and Tharinger represent the 24th Legislative District, along with Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim. The 24th District includes the North Olympic Peninsula.
All three legislators support legislation that would mandate comprehensive sexual education in public schools beginning as early as kindergarten as long as parents have the right to opt out.
“We’re seeing a lot of public health concerns that could be alleviate with education,”Chapman said.
“Young children need to understand that they have a right to tell people ‘don’t touch me,’” he added.
At the same time, he and Tharinger said Saturday they want to ensure that parents have control of their children’s education.
Sen. Kevin Van De Wege said Saturday that COVID-19, which international public health officials said Sunday is growing into a pandemic, already has affected the region economically because China is shutting down its harbors.
Industries that primarily export to China are hurting.
“The shellfish industry already is experiencing unemployment, he said.
The House is putting $5 million into its budget for an emergency response fund for public health agencies, if needed, Tharinger said.
“If something happens we will have some money,”he said.
“Hopefully we won’t need it.”
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].