Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The past few weeks included many late nights and long weekends as legislators debated, amended and passed legislation on the House floor. At this point in the session, House bills that are still alive are now over in the Senate to go through the committee process there, and Senate bills that have passed the Senate are now in House committees.
The House has passed a total of 351 bills to the Senate, while the Senate has passed 219 bills on to the House. All total, there are still 572 bills still alive – not counting those needed to implement the budget (NTIB Bills) – with about six weeks left in the 2011 Legislative Session.
Good friends – the Jamison Family. Son Mitchell paged for Sen. Schoesler
I figured now would be a good time to give you an update on some of the “ugly” bills that are still making their way through the legislative process, as well as some of those that are considered dead for the session:
Bad bills that are still alive:
House Bill 1186 – Enhanced oil spill program. This is a large, expensive expansion of our state's oil spill plan. This is a specific reaction to the oil disaster that happened in the Gulf of Mexico. The problem is, while our state does have a lot of oil tanker traffic, we don't have any deep sea wells. While a tanker spill in the Puget Sound or off the coast of Washington would be horrific, there's just no evidence to suggest our current contingency plans are insufficient. (Passed House 62-35. Awaiting action by Senate Natural Resources and Marine Water Committee.)
House Bill 1489 – No phosphorus fertilizer on turf. (Passed House 58-39. Awaiting action by Senate Environment, Water and Energy Committee.)
House Bill 1701 – Creates a violation and penalty if a legally-registered contractor engages more than two independent legally-registered contractors to work on a single job site. (Passed House Labor and Workforce Development Committee. Passed House 54-43. Awaiting action by Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee.)
House Bill 1267 – This bill would authorize for-profit surrogacy. Current law allows compassionate surrogacy, which means if a couple cannot conceive a child, another woman (often times a sister) could agree to be artificially inseminated and carry the baby for them – out of the goodness of her heart. House Bill 1267 would allow a couple to enter into a contract with a woman to carry a child to full term, at which point the contracting couple would take possession of the infant and be granted legal guardianship in exchange for monetary payment.
For me, this legislation raises significant ethical, legal and moral questions. For example, what would prevent couples from exploiting women of limited means desperate for money? What would prevent a woman from extorting money from expectant parents by threatening abortion? What would happen if the woman engages in behavior during her pregnancy that results in harm to the child (e.g. smoking, drinking)? There are just too many unanswered questions with this bill. (This measure passed with a 57-41 vote in the House. I voted against this bill because it lacks appropriate safeguards, treats children like a commodity and opens the door for the exploitation of economically-disadvantaged women. I am very disappointed this legislation passed.)
Rep. Schmick meets with long-term care advocates from 9th District
Bad bills that died:
House Bill 1320 – Would have created The Washington Investment Trust, creating a state bank that would compete against private banks. (Died in the House Business and Financial Services Committee.)
House Bill 1319 – Expansion of toxic children's toy program. We already have very strict standards on lead in toys. (Died in the House Environment Committee.)
House Bill 1366 – Would place a mandate on community-based, non-profit organizations to state in several places the services they do not perform, as well as open them up for liability. This is the “Crisis Pregnancy Center” bill. Due to so much pressure from citizens contacting their elected officials, CPCs will continue serving upwards of 62,000 people a year with no state funding! (Passed House Health Care and Wellness Committee. Died in House Rules Committee.)
House Bills 1707 and 1768 – Makes permanent the $30 document recording surcharge collected by county auditors and increases the amount to $35 through 2019. (Passed House Community Development and Housing Committee. Both bills died in the House Ways and Means Committee.)
House Bill 1735 – Authorizes the Department of Ecology to collect a 1 percent fee on the wholesale value of petroleum products, pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Creates the Storm Water Pollution Account to spend money on activities or projects that mitigate or prevent contamination of storm water by pollutants. (Died in the House Ways and Means Committee.)
House Bill 1825 – Decommissioning TransAlta coal-fired cogenerating facility. Governor has already reached an agreement to change from coal to natural gas. (Died in the House Environment Committee. *A similar measure, Senate Bill 5769, remains alive in the Senate Rules Committee.)
As always, feel free to contact me with your thoughts or concerns. It is a pleasure hearing from you!