Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The house of origin cutoff was this week, meaning all House bills not necessary to implement the budget must pass the House and be sent over to the Senate (and vice versa) or else they are considered “dead” for the year.
At this time of the session, it's not unusual to spend long nights on the House floor debating amendments, procedures, and voting on bills. However, one floor fight that occurred Monday night is worth mentioning. This nine-hour floor session on House Bill1837 began around 9:00 p.m. on Monday and went until around 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
House Bill 1837 will overturn a 2003 initiative backed by Washington voters that prohibits state ergonomics regulations that go beyond federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. This has the potential to harm our economy, small businesses, and employers across the state, especially in the health care sector.
Here are some examples of rules that would have gone into effect if the original initiative in 2003 had not passed:
• Work with hands above the head more than four hours a day.
• Work with back bent forward more than 30 degrees more than four hours a day.
• Work with the neck bent more than 45 degrees more than two hours a day.
• Work squatting more than four hours a day.
• Bend wrists more than 30 degrees more than three hours a day.
• Grip an object weighing more than 10 pounds more than three hours a day.
• Pinch an object weighing more than two pounds more than three hours a day.
We sponsored many amendments to make the bill better. But in the end, none of them were adopted and the final bill passed 50-48. You can read my op-ed on this issue here. You can watch a short highlight video of some of our floor speeches on this bill here.
Another bad bill that passed is House Bill 1770, the governor's new “net-zero” building code regulations. It requires new buildings to be prewired for solar, despite the National Renewable Energy Laboratory ranking Washington as one of the worst states in the nation for solar energy. This bill restricts energy choices for consumers and puts electric reliability at risk. It will drive up housing costs as well as heating costs.
One bill that I've mentioned in previous updates to you appears to be dead. House Bill 1838 would have devastated the agriculture community in our state. This is the governor's bill to create riparian management zones along all waterways and potential flood plains. These zones could be up to 200 feet in some places with landowners covering the bulk of these costs (planting trees and other mitigation methods). Huge fines would be levied against any landowner not in compliance. You can read my op-ed on this bill here.
I'm pleased that my pharmacy choice bill, House Bill 1813, passed the House and is now in the Senate for further consideration. This bill is a good deal for rural and independent pharmacies and rural residents who may have to travel long distances to get the medications they need.
Again, please mark your calendars for our 9th Legislative District Zoom town hall meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 22, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Go to tinyurl.com/9thDistrictTownHall to register for the event.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you!