A number of bills are dead in the Legislature. Here’s a look at what likely won’t make it through this year:
Sun., March 12, 2023
OLYMPIA – Reducing the threshold for DUIs, reining in rent-gouging and specifying the right to an abortion in Washington’s constitution: These are among the proposals that aren’t likely to make it through the state’s legislative session.
Every year, lawmakers introduce hundreds of bills – only for most of them to die about halfway through the session, following the first major deadline for bills to pass.
Some die because there simply isn’t enough time to get to everything. Others are controversial and don’t have enough votes to pass.
Most bills that have not passed one full chamber at this point are likely dead.
But some may find their way back to life this session, if legislators really want them. Nothing is truly dead until the Legislature adjourns on April 23.
Here’s a look at a few of them :
A bill that would have lowered the blood alcohol limit from 0.08% to 0.05% for drunk driving failed to get a vote out of the state Senate by Wednesday’s deadline.
The bill would have made Washington the second state to lower the limit.
Supporters said the change was needed to motivate drivers to be more cautious. More than half of traffic fatalities in the state last year were due to impaired driving, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
Opponents of the bill included businesses with concerns over the effects of the bills on restaurants, liquor stores and other businesses.
Though the bill had support during its committee vote, lawmakers said it is likely to need more than one year’s work in the Legislature to pass.
Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, said there weren’t quite enough votes to pass the bill this year, but that he fully expected the policy to come back again, as soon as next year.
Gov. Jay Inslee said he was also disappointed that the bill will likely not make it through this year, but that it likely just needs more than a year before passing.
Two bills that would have addressed rent increases failed to receive votes by Wednesday.
One of the bills would have prohibited a landlord from increasing rent by more than 7% during a 12-month period. It also would have prohibited landlords from charging move-in fees or deposits that exceed one month’s rent, and from charging a higher rate for month-to-month leases.
A second bill would have required landlords to provide 180 to 220 days’ notice for rent increases over 5%.
House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, said he was surprised none of the rent stabilization bills made it, and that a deal on the proposal fell through at the last minute.
A bill that would have limited qualified immunity, a practice that protects law enforcement officers from civil liability if they cause injury while on the job, is also likely dead.
Courts in Washington recognize officers as entitled to qualified immunity if they were acting reasonably according to procedures dictated by the law or their superiors.
Supporters said removing the defense would make it easier for those who were injured or feel their rights were violated by police to sue. Opponents say removing the protections would make officers and communities less safe.
This was the third year the proposal had come up in the Legislature, but it again failed to make it to the House floor for a vote this year by the deadline.
It would have allowed any person injured by a police officer to bring a cause of action if the officer did something unlawful under the state constitution, state law governing officers’ use of immigration or citizenship status, or state law governing reasonable care and use of force.
As the state House tried to tackle police reform and fix reforms passed two years ago, leaders said last month they were trying to strike the right balance in keeping communities safe and holding officers accountable.
The state House also failed to bring up a bill to lower the standard for police pursuits – a push from law enforcement who say a lower standard is necessary to do their jobs – but the state Senate passed a pursuit bill in time for Wednesday’s deadline.
A number of bills hoping to address traffic safety failed to pass.
Among them was a bill that would have prohibited drivers from making right turns on red within 1,000 feet of schools, child care centers, public parks, senior centers and other places where lots of people walk.
The proposal was part of a package aimed at addressing rising traffic deaths.
Another proposal would have prohibited police from pulling people over for such things as expired car tabs or broken taillights.
A proposal requested by state Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti would have created a Washington Future Fund Program, which would invest money into a savings and investment account each year on behalf of children born under the state’s Apple Health program.
The Apple Health program includes the state’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs for low-income state residents.
The “baby bond” program would have required the state to invest $4,000 for each child, who could use it for educational, training or professional development, a mortgage or a business loan once they turn 18.
The bill failed to make it out of committee before the deadline, but will likely come up again in future legislative sessions as Pellicciotti has made it a priority.
A number of bills related to expanding abortion access are still in the Legislature but a number of them are also likely dead.
One bill that did not make it through in time would have required hospitals to report when they were merging or being bought by another organization. They would have to show proof that the transaction would not detrimentally affect access to care, specifically reproductive, gender-affirming, emergency or end-of-life care.
The bill failed to make it out for a vote on the floor this year.
Another proposal was a push from Inslee to enshrine the right to an abortion and reproductive care in the state constitution.
Inslee pushed legislators to pass an amendment to the constitution, an effort to protect access to abortion following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
An amendment to the constitution requires two-thirds approval from the Legislature before heading to the ballot. That would have required some support from Republicans, who had said they would not be voting for the amendment, as they did not think it was necessary given Washington’s current laws surrounding abortion.
Inslee said in a statement it was unfortunate that the Legislature could not pass the amendment this year, but that he was hopeful for the legislation that is still alive, such as legal protections for patients and providers, and removing cost-sharing for patients receiving an abortion on health insurance.
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