April 18, 2013 in City

Lawmakers act on bills, including TCEP ban and alcohol sales

Associated Press
 

On Wednesday, houses of the Washington state Legislature passed several measures, and Gov. Jay Inslee signed others into law:

TCEP ban

The Senate passed a bill that would ban two carcinogenic flame retardants in car seats, strollers and other products made for young children.

The measure to ban TCEP and chlorinated Tris was scaled back from the version advanced by the Democratic-controlled House in March.

Unlike the House bill, the current Senate version doesn’t include banning the two retardants from sofas and other household products. It also removes a provision barring the replacement of banned flame retardants with other likely toxic chemicals.

Both versions would make Washington the first state to ban chlorinated Tris from kids’ products.

The measure will head back to the lower chamber, which can either adopt the Senate version or work toward a compromise.

Underage alcohol sales

A measure meant to stop underage alcohol sales at self-checkout machines is headed to the governor.

The measure, approved unanimously by the Senate, would require self-checkout machines at supermarkets to freeze transactions involving liquor sales until a worker verifies the buyer is at least 21 years old.

The measure unanimously passed the House in February and now heads to Inslee for his signature.

Online ads

Inslee signed into law a measure imposing a $5,000 fine for those using online ads to help sell the sexual services of a minor.

The new law, signed by the governor on Wednesday, is meant to target pimps who use websites like Backpage.com to advertise minors for sex. The penalty is in addition to those already in place for sexually trafficking minors.

Last year, then-Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law a measure penalizing websites on which sex ads featuring minors appeared if they failed to make a reasonable effort to verify the minors’ age. That law appeared to conflict with existing federal laws, however, and the state Attorney General’s Office agreed in December to not enforce it.

Backpage and Internet Archive, a nonprofit that runs a popular archive of Internet sites, argued the new law violated the Communications Decency Act of 1996, as well as the First, Fifth, and 14th amendments and the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Social media accounts

Lawmakers are moving ahead with a plan that would prevent employers from asking workers to disclose their personal social media account credentials.

The House voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve a compromise supported by business groups as well as civil liberties advocates.

Along with preventing employers from requesting social media passwords, it also bars companies from using coercive friending or forcing workers to log in while in the employer’s presence. The bill does allow employers to investigate leaks of proprietary information or to comply with other laws.

Lawmakers said the measure strikes the right balance. The measure now goes back to the Senate.

Abortion insurance

A Republican-dominated coalition in the Washington state Senate on Wednesday blocked a plan to require insurers to cover abortion, voting down a procedural motion after a tense exchange over the legislation.

Some Democrats in the Senate had moved to take up an insurance bill ahead of a key cutoff, saying they planned to amend the measure to include the abortion rules.

In making her motion, Democratic Sen. Karen Keiser bemoaned that the majority GOP coalition hadn’t allowed a vote on the bill, even though it appears to have enough support to pass the chamber.

Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler led the move to block discussion and sternly responded to Keiser, saying she was “impugning” her fellow senators.

The vote suggests the measure – which already had passed the House and had the governor’s support – won’t pass the Legislature this year, though lawmakers are still scheduled to be in regular session until later this month.

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