How did my state lawmakers vote in Olympia?

WashingtonVotes.org provides a free periodic roll call service to media outlets as long as the legislature is in session. The reports are customized to the legislative districts in your market area and feature individual legislator’s votes on key issues, including recorded votes on amendments.

The following are bills of interest that made it through at least one chamber this week.

SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 8204,Amending the Constitution to prohibit the taxation of individual income. Failed in the Senate by a vote of 27-22 on March 7, 2017. (33 votes required to pass).

This Senate Joint Resolution proposed an amendment to the Washington State Constitution to establish a permanent ban of a state income tax. Case law has held for 84 years that taxing personal income in the state is unconstitutional, and voters statewide have repeatedly defeated ballot measures to impose such a tax by wide margins. Advocates for an income tax are now employing a strategy of passing the tax in Seattle to generate a test case which, as they have publicly stated, might garner a more favorable review by “today’s more progressive state Supreme Court,” thus opening the possibility for a state income tax. ?The measure failed, because a two-thirds majority (33 votes) of the Senate is needed to pass proposed constitutional amendments.

10 Sen. Barbara Bailey (Oak Harbor) (R) Y

SENATE BILL 5023, Changing provisions relating to school district excess levies. Passed the House on March 9, 2017 by a vote of 87-10, one member excused.

This is a compromise bill to delay the so-called “levy cliff” by a year, while lawmakers come up with a basic education funding plan mandated by the state Supreme Court. Current law, passed in 2010, allows school districts to raise up to 28 percent of their levy base through local property taxes. Under the same law, the rate would drop back down to 24 percent in 2018, but school districts are counting on the extra $500 million the current rate produces in their budgets for next year. The bill, which was passed in the Senate by a 48-1 vote on Wednesday, includes important reforms, such as prohibiting levy money to be spent on teacher salaries and requiring greater accountability in how levy monies are spent. The bill is now on its way to the Governor, who has said he will sign it.

10 Rep. Dave Hayes (Camano Island) (R) Y

10 Rep. Norma Smith (R-Whidbey Island) (R) Y

HOUSE BILL 1371, Modifying the infraction of and penalties for distracted driving. Passed the House on March 7, 2017 by a vote of 52-45, one member excused.

This bill provides that a person who uses a personal electronic device while driving a motor vehicle is guilty of a traffic infraction. The prohibition applies even while the vehicle is temporarily stopped at a traffic light, but not when it is pulled off the road and can remain safely stopped. Distracted driving would be a secondary infraction, limiting enforcement to when a driver of a motor vehicle has been detained for a suspected violation of a separate traffic offense.

10 Rep. Dave Hayes (Camano Island) (R) N

10 Rep. Norma Smith (R-Whidbey Island) (R) E

SENATE BILL 5289, Modifying the infraction of and penalties for distracted driving. Passed the Senate on March 6, 2017 by a vote of 36-13.

Similar to HB 1371, this bill would create a new traffic infraction, beginning January 1, 2018, that prohibits a person from using a personal electronic device while driving a motor vehicle on a public highway. It would apply to holding a device in either hand, and also to the use of a hand or finger to compose, send, read, view, access, browse, transmit, save, or retrieve email, text messages, instant messages, photographs, or other electronic data. The first violation of the infraction carries a base penalty of $48 and a total penalty of $136. Second and subsequent violations of this infraction double the base penalty to $96, resulting in a total penalty of approximately $235. Both chambers will now consider each other’s versions, before a combined bill comes to a final vote.

10 Sen. Barbara Bailey (Oak Harbor) (R) Y

SENATE BILL 5533, Prohibiting contributions to gubernatorial candidates by entities that collectively bargain with the state. Passed the Senate on March 7, 2017 by a vote of 25-24.

The bill would prohibit any entity that engages in collective bargaining with the governor from making contributions to any candidate for governor, directly or indirectly. It would also prohibit any political committee from making independent expenditures in support of or in opposition to any candidate for governor or making direct or indirect contributions. The bill, if passed by the House and signed into law by the governor, would end conflicts of interests inherent in public employee unions negotiating with governors they had helped politically by giving money to their campaigns.

10 Sen. Barbara Bailey (Oak Harbor) (R) Y

HOUSE BILL 1506,Addressing workplace practices to achieve gender pay equity. Passed the House on March 8, 2017 by a vote of 61-36, one member excused.

This bill would prohibit discrimination in providing employment opportunities based on gender. It would also prohibits retaliation for certain workplace discussions about wages and other matters. The measure would modify the existing state Equal Pay Act by clarifying that individuals are “similarly employed” if the performance of the job requires comparable skill, effort, and responsibility, and the jobs are performed under similar working conditions. Job titles alone would not be not determinative. An employer’s defense under the act is changed to provide that a differential based on the following is not discrimination: a seniority system; a merit system; a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or a bona fide job-related factor, including education, training, or experience. An individual’s previous wage or salary history would not be a defense.

10 Rep. Dave Hayes (Camano Island) (R) N

10 Rep. Norma Smith (R-Whidbey Island) (R) E

SENATE BILL 5280, Making crimes and threats against persons because of their occupation as a law enforcement officer a hate crime. Passed the Senate on March 8, 2017 by a vote of 35-14.

Under this bill, a person would be found to commit malicious harassment, i.e. a hate crime, if the person commits prohibited acts because of their perception of the victim’s occupation as a law enforcement officer. Assault in the third degree involving a law enforcement officer is added to the other crimes that may constitute harassment. The list of actions that would constitute a hate crime against a law enforcement officer is extensive and includes threats to cause bodily injury immediately or in the future; to cause physical damage to the property of the officer; or maliciously to do any other act which is intended to substantially harm the person threatened.

10 Sen. Barbara Bailey (Oak Harbor) (R) Y

SENATE BILL 5333, Modifying presidential primary provisions. Passed the Senate on March 6, 2017 by a vote of 34-15.

This is a measure to move Washington state’s presidential primary from May to March. It was requested by Secretary of State Kim Wyman who said the state would be more relevant in choosing presidential nominees if Washington’s primary were held earlier. Under the bill, the presidential primary election would take place on the second Tuesday in March, unless the secretary of state moves it to a later date as part of a regional primary. Voters would not have to declare a party affiliation, as they do now, and would not be allowed to write in candidates when voting in the primary election.

10 Sen. Barbara Bailey (Oak Harbor) (R) Y

SOURCE: WashingtonVotes.org is a project of the Washington Policy Center. Please visit www.WashingtonVotes.org and check out our new Olympia news service, Washingtonvotes.org News, which is featured on the home page. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter, at washingtonvotes.org.

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