What bills are dead, alive after WA Legislature’s first cutoff

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OLYMPIA — Cue the Bon Jovi: Dead or aliiiiiive.

Bills can be labeled one or the other after the first major deadline of Washington’s legislative session hit Wednesday.

Legislators have a little more than a month left to go, and by Jan. 31, most bills had to get the nod from a policy committee to continue their journey through the statehouse.

Though future deadlines will make the public policy horizon even clearer, the first cutoff is a milestone in the legislative session, a sprint that started Jan. 8 and runs through early March.

It can be an emotional time, when legislators start seeing their ideas sacrificed to the realities of time and politics. On Wednesday, in acknowledgment of the cutoff date, House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, showed off colorful socks depicting Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”

2024 WA Legislature | Local Politics

Drama built in the Capitol early this week as a Senate version of a bill to limit rent caps sat in a state of limbo and then died when the lone Democrat holding out on the committee said Wednesday that she wouldn’t sign in favor of it. But its companion bill in the House lives to see another day.

Although some bills have appeared to meet their end, there are exceptions to the initial cutoff, and the old statehouse saying rings true: “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Legislators have ways of reviving bills when they’re motivated to do so, and some proposals can find new life and a different form as provisos in the budget.

Casualties

Some bills that died would have:

  • Created a 25-foot “buffer zone” where people could not protest others gathering signatures for an initiative or referendum; Senate Bill 5820, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview
  • Allowed limited legalization of psilocybin, the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms; Senate Bill 5977, sponsored by Sen. Jesse Salomon, D-Shoreline
  • Banned TikTok in Washington; House Bill 2435, sponsored by Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen
  • Required large companies to disclose information about where they source and make clothes and set targets to lower their emissions; House Bill 2068 and Senate Bill 5965, sponsored by Rep. Sharlett Mena, D-Tacoma and Sen. Joe Nguyen, D-White Center, respectively
  • Allowed customers to cash out gift cards up to $50 and required issuers to let a gift card be used in combination with another form of payment if the value of the gift certificate was less than the cost of the purchase; House Bill 2094 and Senate Bill 5987, sponsored by Rep. Emily Alvarado, D-Seattle, and Sen. Yasmin Trudeau, D-Tacoma, respectively. A proposal to require unspent gift cards be reported to the state as unclaimed property, House Bill 2095/Senate Bill 5988, is still alive.

Survivors

Some bills that are continuing through the process, if passed into law, would:

  • Set an annual limit on rent increases for existing tenants; House Bill 2114, sponsored by Rep. Emily Alvarado, D-Seattle. The Senate companion bill died Wednesday.
  • Allow striking workers to get unemployment benefits; Senate Bill 5777 and House Bill 1893, sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, and Rep. Beth Doglio, D-Olympia, respectively
  • Let courts require drunken drivers who have killed or permanently disabled a parent to pay child support; Senate Bill 5841, sponsored by Sen. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek
  • Allow people to grow up to four cannabis plants at home; House Bill 2194, sponsored by Rep. Shelley Kloba, D-Kirkland
  • Ban child marriage; House Bill 1455, sponsored by Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver
  • Have the state recognize Lunar New Year as a holiday and encourage state agencies, local governments and schools to celebrate the holiday; House Bill 2209, sponsored by Rep. My-Linh Thai, D-Bellevue
  • Allow some misdemeanor cases to be dismissed if a defendant meets conditions set by the judge, like mental health or substance use treatment; House Bill 1994, sponsored by Rep. Darya Farivar, D-Seattle.

The next deadline is Monday, Feb. 5, when bills that cost money have to get approval from budget committees to move forward. Bills concerning transportation also must be passed out of the transportation committees by that date.

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