Yeah, it's all about the budget this year, but there's some interesting -- if short-lived -- stuff going on in the margins:
Wary Christmas: Just weeks after the contentious battle-of-the-holiday-placards between Christians and an atheist group in the state capitol's third floor, Rep. Jim McCune, R-Graham, has introduced House Bill 1301, which would declare any conifer erected in the capitol rotunda during December to be "the official Christmas tree of the state of Washington."
Remember your mailbox in October? Sen. Ken Jacobsen, D-Seattle, wants to require anyone mailing out a political ad to file a copy with the archives. (SB 5096)
Airline passengers' bill of rights: Jacobsen also wants to require airlines to provide food, water and clean bathrooms to people stuck on the ground in planes. He also wants to create a new state “airline consumer advocate” to investigate complains and seek refunds of up to $1,000 per person. (SE 5068)
Moles beware: In the latest round of a long dispute between ranchers struggling with coyotes and suburban homeowners dismayed at lawn damage, Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, wants to create an exception to the state's anti-trapping law. Under Senate Bill 5123, traps used to kill moles would be declared OK.
-Driving in a cloud: Rep. Brendan Williams, D-Olympia, wants to make it illegal to smoke in a car containing anyone under the age of 18. (HB 1151)
-Best Friends Forever: Jacobsen's SB 5063 would allow people to have their deceased pets buried alongside them in the family's cemetery plot. (No horses, though – the bill only covers dogs and cats.)
The Birdman of Olympia: Washington already has a state climatologist and a state poet. Jacobsen – an avid fan of bird-watching – thinks it's time we had a state ornithologist. Among this person's tasks: helping teach the public about bird-feeding and designing bird-friendly yards. (SB 5066)
-Kids in cars: Sen. Dale Brandland, R-Bellingham, wants to make it illegal to leave a child under 12 in an unattended car. (This is already illegal for anyone under 16 if the engine is running.) A second violation would be a misdemeanor. (Senate Bill 5126.)
-Hold the bags: Rep. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, wants to ban free shopping bags unless they're compostable, recyclable or thick and reuseable. (HB 1189)
-But paper bags are OK: Rep. Dean Takko, D-Longview, and other timber-area lawmakers want to ban cities and counties from trying to charge shoppers for a bag – so long as it's made of paper. (HB 1154)
-Hold the art: Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, and half a dozen mostly-Republican lawmakers have proposed a two-year break from the public building requirement that half of 1 percent of the project's cost be spent on art. (SB 5163).
-A state income tax: Entitled “An Act Relating to Fiscal Reform,” Senate Bill 5104 would set up a state income tax ranging from 2.2 percent to 6 percent, with the highest rate applying to anyone with taxable income of more than about $60,000 a year. The proposal comes from Sen. Rosa Franklin, D-Tacoma. The change would require that voters also agree to amend the state constitution, which Franklin included in a separate measure, SJR 8205.
-Hiking brightly: Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, wants to require all hikers in recreation areas to wear bright orange clothing during hunting season. Hikers in regular clothes would be subject to a fine. (HB 1116)