WA State: Firearms registry, social networking measures approved as key deadline passes
Wednesday marked another key legislative deadline in Olympia as lawmakers faced a 5 p.m. cut-off to move bills out of the opposite chamber. Here’s a roundup of key bills that made the cut and those that are likely dead this year.
Firearm offender registry: House Bill 1612 would require the Washington State Patrol to create the database of felony firearm offenders. Offenders would be required to register with the sheriff in their county of residence. The database would not be available to the public and the offender’s name would be removed after four years if no other firearm offenses are committed. It is one of the few bills dealing with gun control approved by both chambers during the 2013 legislative session. A number of proposals, including a bill that would require background checks for private gun sales, never made it to the floor for a vote.
Social networking passwords: A bill that makes it illegal for any employer to request a password for any social networking site maintained by an employee was approved by the House. Supporters say Senate Bill 5211 is about protecting privacy rights.
Flame retardants: A measure that bans manufacture and sale of children’s products that contain two chemical flame retardants was passed by the Senate by a 30-18 vote. Nonprofit organizations and private parties making sales or purchases of used products would be exempt from the ban.
BILLS LIKELY (STILL) DEAD
Protective orders and firearms: House Bill 1840, sponsored by Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland), would have prohibited gun ownership for many people under restraining orders keeping them away from spouses. The legislation was the topic of a lengthy piece published in the New York Times last month. The measure was passed in the House by a 61-37 vote, but never made it to the Senate floor.
Third grade reading: The House never voted on a measure that would require third-graders who don’t pass a reading test to be held back if they don’t improve by the start of fourth grade. The bill was passed out of the Senate by 35-13 vote. The measure was altered and passed out of the House Education Committee, but never made it to the floor.
Dream Act: Senate Democrats were unable to revive a bill that would increase access to higher education for students who are undocumented immigrants. The measure was earlier passed by the House and had the support of Gov. Jay Inslee. The bill would have extended the State Need Grant program, which provides aid to low-income college students, to undocumented graduates of Washington high schools.
Abortion insurance: Despite repeated efforts by Senate Democrats, a measure that would require insurers to cover abortions if they also cover live births never made it past a committee hearing in the upper chamber. Supporters said they had the votes to pass the Reproductive Parity Act, but the measure was blocked by the GOP-controlled Majority Coalition Caucus. The bill passed in the House by a 53-43 vote along party lines. Backers of the bill say it is essential for women to continue to have access to abortions when the federal health care reforms start in 2014.
At the close of the day’s activities, Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement saying that people should be “bitterly disappointed” because the domestic violence gun bill did not come up for a vote. He also said the Senate “failed today” in not voting on the Washington Dream Act and the abortion insurance bill. Read his full statement below:
Earlier today I heard President Obama say it was a ‘pretty shameful day in Washington’ D.C. because of the failure of the Senate to pass common sense gun safety legislation. I was hoping that here in the other Washington we could do better. But by day’s end it is clear that our state Senate let yet another deadline pass without taking a vote on common sense gun safety legislation.
Washingtonians would be right to be bitterly disappointed. The lack of a vote on a bill that would keep guns from perpetrators of domestic violence comes on top of the Legislature’s failure to allow a vote on a bill that would help keep guns out of the hands of felons. Neither the House nor Senate has taken a vote on the bill to require background checks, and yet no one has offered a good reason why that bill should not become law in the state of Washington.
But we should not and will not quit. I will keep pushing lawmakers in both houses and in both parties to bring this legislation up for a vote and take a step toward reducing gun violence in our state.
The Senate also failed today yet again to take a vote on the Reproductive Parity Act which would protect women’s right to privacy in our state and the Dream Act which would help all Washington students get a college education.
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