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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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New Washington laws: New rules take effect in areas ranging from guns to pickleball to license fees

The sundial near the Legislative Building is shown under cloudy skies on March 10 at the Capitol in Olympia.  (Ted S. Warren)
The sundial near the Legislative Building is shown under cloudy skies on March 10 at the Capitol in Olympia. (Ted S. Warren)

OLYMPIA – Changes to gun regulations, new transportation fees and a new state sport are all among the changes Washington residents may soon see.

Some of the bills the Legislature passed this session went into effect immediately upon Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature, while others went into effect June 9 – 90 days after the legislative session. But a number of others became law last week, on July 1.

Here’s a look at a number of important bills that have gone into effect over the last month:

Gun magazines

Beginning July 1, making, distributing or selling gun magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition is illegal in Washington.

The new law effectively bans the manufacture, distribution and sale of magazines for rifles and a number of pistols that hold more than 10 bullets.

Possession is not prohibited in the bill.

A number of gun shops, including Sharp Shooting in Spokane, have reminded their customers that beginning Friday they cannot sell magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. None can be transferred or sold after last Thursday.

Washington became the 10th state plus the District of Columbia to enact a similar law.

Ghost guns

Another gun regulation that went into effect on Friday restricts the use of untraceable firearms, or guns manufactured after July 1, 2019 that are not an antique and cannot be traced by law enforcement using a serial number.

“Ghost guns” are often bought online in parts and assembled at home by the buyer.

Making, assembling, selling or purchasing untraceable firearms is prohibited. By March 10, 2023, knowingly or recklessly possessing these firearms is prohibited.

Hobbyists can continue making guns at home if they use parts with serial numbers.

Transportation fees

Part of a new transportation spending bill, which will fund maintenance, transit and a number of other projects across the state, went into effect Friday.

The $17 billion, 16-year transportation package will help fund a rapid bus route on Division Street in Spokane.

Different parts of the package will go into effect over time, but starting Friday, a number of new fees for drivers are in effect.

License plate fees for cars increases from $10 to $50 for the original fee, and $30 for replacement fees. For motorcycles, fees increase from $4 to $20 for the original fee and from $4 to $12 for replacement.

The stolen vehicle check fee that applicants pay when registering a car in Washington from another state has increased from $15 to $50. It will increase again to $75 beginning July 1, 2026.

The dealer temporary permit fee, which is a combination title application and temporary registration used by dealers when delivering a vehicle not currently registered, has increased from $15 to $40.

A number of other fees, including one that increases the fee for an enhanced driver’s license, will go into effect later this year.

School holidays

School holidays and state holidays are now aligned after a new law went into effect Friday.

That means that all state-recognized holidays are now school holidays. One example is Juneteenth, which was just added to state holidays this year and will now be included for all state schools.

Pickleball

As of June 9, pickleball is the official state sport of Washington.

The effort to make it the state sport passed with broad, bipartisan support.

Pickleball was founded in Washington in 1965 and has grown in popularity nationwide since then.

The sport was added to a list of state symbols, including petrified wood as the state gem and bluebunch wheatgrass as the state grass.

Student loan program

A plan to implement a state student loan program with loans with 1% interest rates went into law June 9.

The plan establishes a program to issue student loans with 1% interest rates, no lending fees and that are dischargeable in the event of the borrower’s total and permanent disability or death.

The loan amounts will vary from $3,000 to $12,000 for undergraduates and from $5,000 to $10,000 for graduates.

The loans will be awarded to students with financial need starting in the 2024-2025 school year.

Anti-hazing

A new law that expands the state’s definition of hazing and requires colleges to provide hazing education to students and employees went into effect June 9.

The bill, called the “Sam’s Law Act” after Washington State University freshman and fraternity pledge Sam Martinez, who died in 2019, passed the Legislature unanimously.

It requires findings from misconduct investigations into student groups to be published online by colleges. National social fraternity and sorority organizations have to publish a list of hazing violations on their websites. If an organization launches an investigation into a local chapter, they have to notify the college and provide findings to the school.

Legislative staff unionization

Legislative staff may soon begin the process of collective bargaining after a law went into effect June 9, but it could still take a few years.

Legislative staff are not covered by state civil service laws that grant some state employees the right to unionize.

The law creates an Office of State Legislative Labor Relations, which is charged with conducting collective bargaining negotiations for the Legislature and considers frameworks for grievance procedures and disciplinary actions. The office must complete a study on the implementation of bargaining and give it to the Legislature by Oct. 1, 2023.

If the Legislature does not pass additional legislation outlining the bargaining process, staffers will automatically get bargaining rights beginning May 1, 2024. Agreements would take effect July 1, 2025.

Laurel Demkovich's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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