Good morning. Today is Friday, the 19th day of the 105-day session.
A constitutional amendment introduced by Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, would make the Superintendent of Public Instruction, which is an elected office currently held by Randy Dorn, into an appointed position under the authority of the governor.
In early January, Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed a reorganization of education governance in the state that would create an Education Department and would put the Superintendent of Public Instruction under the authority of its appointed secretary, a move Dorn said would violate the state constitution.
If passed, this proposal would eliminate some of the constitutional controversy surrounding the governor’s proposal.
Rep. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, and Sen. Phil Rockefeller, D-Kitsap County, introduced bills that would allow school districts to cut three school days from the 2010-11 school year in order to save money. Proposals to do so would have to be approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
A bill introduced by Rep. Troy Kelley, D-Tacoma, would require children between the ages of 7 and 18 to go to school, unless they are being home schooled. Current law does not require children to be in school until they are 8 years old.
Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, and Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, introduced several bills related to human trafficking. Together, the bills would allow police to record suspected human-trafficking and child-prostitution activities with the consent of the victim, authorize local governments to let trafficking victims use affordable housing and expand the definition of human trafficking to include the illegal harvesting or sale of human organs.
A bill introduced by Rep. Dave Upthegrove, D-Des Moines, would allow the state to contract with private driving schools to conduct drive tests, rather than having Department of Licensing run the tests. The schools could charge up to $25 for the tests. According to a press release announcing the measure, it is designed to reduce wait-times at DOL offices.
Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, testified Thursday that his proposed political redistricting bill would improve voter contact with lawmakers and reduce the impact of money in legislative races.
Dunshee would accomplish that with House Bill 1092, which proposes to let the state Redistricting Commission create two House districts inside each of Washington’s 49 legislative districts.
This would let House lawmakers and candidates cover a smaller turf and spend more time talking to voters instead of raising money for elections, Dunshee said.
Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman spoke for county auditors statewide and said they worry the extra step might cause problems for county elections offices in the 2012 election cycle. She said that if the Redistricting Commission can’t meet its Jan. 1 deadline for sending a new political boundary map to the Legislature next year, or there is a stalemate forcing the job to the state Supreme Court, it would interfere with elections deadlines set in law.
Republican Rep. Cary Condotta of Wenatchee said the system today lets voters have diversity with two lawmakers, one more liberal and one more conservative. He also said one lawmaker in a district could find himself not representing a well-populated area of his district if the district split came true.
It did not appear that Dunshee had a lot of support for his idea, but he said some lawmakers are supportive and other states do it the way he is proposing.
“I believe we ought to get closer to the people. If your district is half the size, you will doorbell twice the number of people. That reduces the impact of money in a race,” he said.
Dunshee mixed it up with new Rep. Jason Overstreet, R-Bellingham, when he described the sprawling nature of some legislative districts. Dunshee said the 39th, which he’d been in until the 2001 redistricting moved him to the 44th, extended into a part of Whatcom County he called “the banjo area up there.”
“I take offense at your comments about unincorporated areas of Whatcom County. I find it interesting you would take a swipe like that,” Overstreet said.
“I actually represented the 39th longer than you’ve been here. A little humor doesn’t hurt anybody,” Dunshee replied. “I represented more rural people than you do now.”
The Senate Committee on Environment, Water and Energy will hold a hearing on a bill that would limit when and where people can use fertilizer that contains phosphorous.
Phosphorous runoff into lakes and streams can cause algae blooms that damage water quality.
The House Committee on Labor and Workforce Development will hold a hearing on a bill that would entitle the surviving spouse of a law enforcement officer, state patrol officer or a firefighter to receive retirement benefits for life.
The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on a bill that would set up a state meat inspection program and require companies that prepare and sell meat for in-state consumption to get a license from the Washington Department of Agriculture.
The House Business and Financial Services Committee is scheduled to vote on a bill that would require that a process be developed for applying military training and experience toward becoming a licensed barber, engineer, land surveyor or security guard in the state. A companion bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate on Monday.
Compiled by Katie Schmidt and Brad Shannon.
UPDATED Jan. 29 to correct reference to Rep. Kelley.