Bailey's bills ready for signatures

Only the governor’s signature stands between Barbara Bailey and success in seeing two of her bills become law in her first legislative session.

“I personally sponsored two bills on the governor’s desk,” the Oak Harbor Republican freshman legislator said last week, while waiting for a special session to begin this week. “My two bills have survived the process.”

The bills prove that Bailey has been doing more than listening in her first session since winning election last November.

HB 1849 should make it easier to respond to terrorist attacks or other catastrophes, Bailey said. it simply compiles a list of emergency responders throughout the area. “Anyone who wants to be on the list can be,” she said. “It makes personnel available.” With such a list, emergency responders in Island County, for example, could be asked to help in a Seattle emergency. “It got real positive endorsements,” Bailey said, citing the Department of Health and National Guard as supporters.

Her other bill, HB 1829, addresses what some saw as abuses in a new retirement law allowing the rehiring of recently retired employees, such as school teachers and administrators. The law was meant to address shortages in such professions, but in fact some long-time employees retired and were immediately rehired without going through the usual hiring process. Such employees receive retirement checks while working.

“This was for when they could not find a suitable candidate” to fill the position of the retiree, Bailey said. “It has been abused.” Her new law requires that someone who retires leave the position for at least three months, and then go through the regular hiring process. In addition, there’s a three-year limit to how long they can work while also receiving retirement pay.

Bailey said time will tell whether the new bill keeps retirees from coming back to work when others could fill the position. “If it continues to be abused we’ll look at the whole situation,” she said.

Bailey said her first legislative session has been a learning process, and she was particularly surprised by how much scrutiny a bill gets before becoming law. “I’m amazed by it,” she said. “It’s very onerous, but at the same time a very rigorous process of proofing.”

This week, legislative leaders are in Olympia debating budget issues as a large deficit has not yet been dealt with. The rank and file will be called back to work once agreement seems imminent. Bailey hopes the special session lasts no longer than the predicted 30 days. “I have plans for July, I don’t plan to be in Olympia,” she said. “But we need to do it right, we need a sustainable budget.”

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