Good morning. Today is Tuesday, day 16 of a 105-day session.
Senate Transportation Committee Chairwoman Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, introduced a bill that would cut labor costs in the Washington State Ferries, mainly by limiting collective action agreements for ferry workers. Under her proposed bill, agreements could not allow overtime compensation greater than time and a half, provide for a minimum guaranteed shift or compensate for parking expenses.
The bill would also prohibit captains, chief officers and engineers from being included in a collective bargaining unit and would eliminate the Marine Employees Commission, which is charged with preventing labor disputes in the ferry system.
Before the session began, Gov. Chris Gregoire unveiled a controversial proposal to raise money the ferry system, which lost much of its funding when the state vehicle excise tax was eliminated, through local taxes. Gregoire’s proposal has gained little support in the Legislature.
The Senate bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Curtis King of Yakima, the ranking Republican on the Senate Transportation Committee. Rep. Judy Clibborn, a Mercer Island Democrat and chairwoman of the House Transportation Committee, introduced a similar bill in the house.
The Senate Government Operations, Tribal Relations and Elections Committee voted to move forward a proposal to eliminate the 2012 presidential primary, which Gov. Gregoire has said will save the state $10 million.
Sen. Craig Pridemore, chairman of the committee, said he was ambivalent about the idea because he wanted to save money, but he also thought the political parties should be able to choose their candidates as they see fit. He voted to pass the measure out of committee.
Washington has both a primary and a caucus system that parties can use to choose delegates to their national conventions. In the past, the Democratic Party has used only the caucus and the Republican Party has used a combination of primary and caucus results.
Sen. Scott White, D-Seattle, introduced a bill banning some smokeless tobacco products. The bill is a companion to a house bill already introduced by Rep. Eileen Cody, also a Seattle Democrat.
A bill introduced by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, would exempt zoos from paying state sales tax on materials they buy for exhibits.
Rep. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, introduced a bill that would allow people to set up a payment plan for fines from traffic infractions.
Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, introduced a capital budget bill for 2011-2013 at the request of the governor.
Sen. Phil Rockefeller, D-Silverdale, and Rep. Steve Kirby, D-Tacoma, introduced bills that would close a loophole on home loans. Currently, lenders can call home mortgages “commercial loans” and in so doing avoid state disclosure requirements.
The Senate Committee on Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance will hold a hearing on a bill that would set up a Washington Investment Trust, which is meant to work like a state bank and increase access to credit for Washington businesses. A companion bill will also have a hearing in the House Business and Financial Services Committee.
Sen. Margarita Prentice and Rep. Bob Hasegawa, the bills’ sponsors, will also hold a 9:30 a.m. news conference about the proposal, which is modeled after the Bank of North Dakota.
The House Committee on Technology, Energy and Communications will hold a hearing on a bill that would exempt local governments from state alternative fuel requirements. As the law now stands, all state and local government vehicles must be powered by electricity and biofuels by June 1, 2015.
The House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee will vote on a gang bill, requested by Attorney General Rob McKenna, that would create harsher penalties for gang-related crimes and would set up grants for organizations working on local gang prevention programs.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on a bill that would ban synthetic cannabinoids, an ingredient in found in a marijuana-like drug commonly known by the brand names K2 and Spice. Several other states including Alabama and Georgia have already made the substance illegal.
The Senate Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on a bill, sponsored by Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, that would set a minimum duration time for yellow lights and would limit the amount someone can be fined for running a photo-enforced red light.