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House Passes Truck Safety Bill Measures Also Approved On Parking Permits, Uniforms

Sparked by tragedies involving children hit by delivery trucks, the House passed a bill Tuesday that would require rear mirrors or backup warning devices on small commercial vehicles.

House Bill 2613, dubbed “C.J.’s bill” in memory of a 3-year-old Lynnwood boy killed in 1994 when a truck backed into him, was among more than 100 bills considered as the Legislature reached the midpoint of its 60-day session.

Other measures approved in the House or Senate on Tuesday would prohibit insurers from denying benefits to victims of domestic violence, crack down on people who abuse the use of disabled parking permits and prevent convicted sex offenders in prison work programs from getting the names and phone numbers of private citizens.

Rep. Paul Zellinsky, R-Bremerton, said the bill requiring backup warning devices on small delivery trucks is long overdue.

It’s being pushed hard by relatives of C.J. Norton, killed in a May 1994 accident. A Kent child died in a similar accident three months later.

Under the bill, Washington-based delivery trucks equipped with a cube-style cargo box up to 18 feet long must be equipped with a rear cross-view mirror or backup device to alert the driver that a person or object is behind the vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Institute is testing the effectiveness of various backup devices, including mirrors, infrared devices and radar warning devices, and expects to write new federal rules by this fall.

The House passed the bill unanimously and sent it to the Senate, which is preparing to vote on a similar measure.

The House also voted unanimously to approve HB2910, which would bar insurance companies from denying coverage to victims of domestic violence. Three previous bills have been defeated in recent years, but many legislators are backing the proposal this year to prevent future cases like that of Kittis Bolduc of Kent.

Bolduc’s home was burned down by the man she was divorcing, and Safeco Insurance Co. wouldn’t cover the loss because the fire had been set deliberately by a co-insured.

Safeco eventually agreed to settle with Bolduc even though a King County Superior Court judge said the company was within its rights to deny the fire claim.

HB2442, which now goes to the Senate, would boost penalties for people who illegally use disabled parking permits, make it tougher to get extra windshield placards and allow local law enforcement agencies to appoint volunteers to issue notices of infractions for violations of disabled parking laws.

The Seattle Times, which analyzed disabled-parking records at the state Department of Licensing last year, found, among other things, that 10,000 dead people still held passes. Some of the passes had been renewed after death.

Meanwhile, the Senate moved to settle a dispute over when employers must pay for workers’ clothing.

Under the bill negotiated with retailers, restaurants, labor unions and the Department of Labor and Industries, employers who require workers to wear uniforms must furnish the apparel or compensate employees. However, workers would have to provide their own apparel if the employer simply requires “common” colors, such as black pants and a white shirt.

The proposal became known as “the black and white bill” in recent years because nobody could agree on a definition of “common” colors. Under the compromise bill, “common” colors would be white, tan or blue for shirts and tan, black, blue and gray for pants.

With employers and workers in agreement now, the Senate voted unanimously to approve SB6536 and send it to the House. Several senators who support the bill donned black baseball caps during the vote.

The Senate also approved a bill that would update the Animal Health Act to improve disease reporting and allow the state Department of Agriculture to better respond to animal health emergencies. Among other things, SB6123 would expand the agency’s ability to issue a “hold order” to keep an animal in quarantine for seven days while its health is examined.

xxxx TO THE SENATE The House sent a number of bills to the Senate, including: HB2723, which would give counties the power to permit industrial development outside urban growth areas established by the state’s Growth Management Act. The bill was passed 63-33. Backers said the measure is needed to help rural areas develop more commerce and jobs. Foes said it would help gut the Growth Management Act by contributing to urban sprawl. Gov. Gary Locke vetoed a similar measure last year. HB2368, which would require convicted sex offenders who must register with counties to register also at colleges they are attending in Washington. Failure to do so would be a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. The bill was passed unanimously. HB2500, which would authorize police from neighboring states to pursue fleeing motorists into Washington. The bill was passed unanimously.