Politics & Government

Legislature: Day 29, Monday, Feb. 7

UNDER THE DOME

Good morning. Today is Monday, the 29th day of the 105-day session.

BILLS INTRODUCED

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Islands, introduced Senate Bill 5669 at the governor’s request. The bill would create a Department of Conservation and Recreation that would absorb the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Parks Commission and the Recreation and Conservation Office.

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, introduced Senate Bill 5670, which would require drivers to turn on their headlights anytime their windshield wipers are in use. Under current law, drivers must use their headlights from half an hour before sunset to half an hour after sunrise.

Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, introduced Senate Bill 5697, another in a series of recent bills that would give state universities more tuition-setting authority.

Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, introduced House Bill 1830, which would set up a board that would be responsible for creating and instituting a plan to reform the state ferry system. His bill also would require an investigation of all the legislative decisions that have contributed to the ferry-funding crisis in Washington, to be carried out by the state auditor.

Rep. Kathy Haigh, D-Shelton, introduced House Bill 1849, which would set up an education council chaired by the Superintendent of Public Instruction that would be responsible for overseeing all levels of education in the state.

Under the proposal, nine members of the council would be appointed by the governor, nine would be appointed by the superintendent and four would be legislators. The bill is an alternative to an education-reform proposal requested by Gov. Chris Gregoire and would create a Department of Education under the governor’s authority.

Sen. Scott White, D-Seattle, introduced Senate Bill 5621, which would allow high school students 14 and older to vote in school board elections.

TODAY

The House could act on Senate Bill 5135, the bill to reduce unemployment insurance taxes that the Senate passed in a floor vote Friday. Speaker of the House Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, said Friday that they were considering making some changes to the proposal, including making the tax changes permanent and adding a temporary across-the-board unemployment benefit increase of about $10-20 per week.

The Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee will hold a hearing on a bill by White, Senate Bill 5380, that would ban some kinds of smokeless tobacco and limit where stores can display tobacco products to make them less easily accessible. A companion bill, House Bill 1246, already had a hearing in the House Healthcare and Wellness Committee.

The Senate Government Operations, Tribal Relations and Elections Committee will hold a hearing on Senate Bill 5171, which would move the date that ballots are mailed to overseas and service voters two weeks earlier.

The House Higher Education Committee will hold a hearing on House Bill 1586, a companion to Senate Bill 5315, which would allow branch campuses of the University of Washington and Washington State University to offer doctoral degree programs.

The House Healthcare and Wellness Committee will hold a hearing on House Bill 1740, a bill requested by the governor that would set up a health insurance exchange as required under the federal health care law. A companion bill, Senate Bill 5445, had a hearing Thursday.

The House Committee on State Government and Tribal Affairs is scheduled to vote on House Bill 1326, which would amend the Gambling Act to allow banks to have drawings and offer prizes to people with savings accounts.

The House Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on House Bill 1483, which would allow people to set up payment plans for paying off tickets they get from traffic infractions.

Katie Schmidt, staff writer

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