Week of February 28-March 4, 2022

Friday, March 4 was the last day for bills to be passed off the floor of the opposite or second house. Bills that are deemed to be necessary to implement the budget (NTIB) are exempt from this cutoff. Passed bills may now take a few different paths. If the bill has been amended by the second house, the first house must decide whether it will concur in the amendments or not. Leadership decides which bills returned from the second house will be discussed and places those bills on the concurrence calendar (House) or concurring calendar (Senate). If the first house concurs in the amendments, the bill has passed the Legislature. If the first house disagrees with the second house, it can ask the second house to recede from the amendments. If the second house recedes, the bill has passed the Legislature.

If the two houses cannot resolve their differences, one of them can ask for a conference committee where members from each house meet to discuss the differences. If they agree on a path forward, the conference committee makes a report. Both houses must adopt the conference committee report for the bill to pass the Legislature. A conference report cannot be amended on the floor. If one house does not adopt the conference committee report (whether by vote or inaction), the bill has not passed.

Once a bill has finally passed the Legislature, it is enrolled. A certificate proclaiming that it has passed is attached and, if necessary, the amendments from the second house or conference committee are incorporated into the body of the bill. The bill is signed by the Speaker of the House, the Chief Clerk of the House, the President of the Senate, and the Secretary of the Senate and is sent to the Governor for his action.

After the Governor reviews the bill, he may decide to sign it, veto part of it, or veto all of it. Bills that are delivered to the governor more than five days before the Legislature adjourns have five days to be acted on. Bills that are delivered fewer than five days before the Legislature adjourns have 20 days to be acted on by the governor. Both are counted as calendar days, not business days. Sundays are not counted, but Saturdays and state holidays are counted.

If the Governor vetoes part or all of it, the Legislature may vote to override the veto. If the Governor does not act on a bill after the allotted number of days, it is as if it was signed. From the Governor’s desk, bills go to the Secretary of State who assigns a session law chapter number.

Use of Force Legislation

Last year, legislators passed a package of police reform laws designed to adjust acceptable use of force, tactics, and equipment and to put systems of accountability and transparency into place. There have been challenges in the implementation of these laws, with some law enforcement agencies contending that the new use of force standard prevents them from assisting designated crisis responders and mental and behavioral health specialists with involuntary treatments and other community caretaking functions. Therefore, this session has again been marked by a tug-of-war between law enforcement and families of those who have died during interactions with law enforcement. On Friday, Governor Inslee signed HB 1735 (Johnson, D-30), the first of the police response bills to pass the 2022 Legislature.  HB 1735 clarifies that officers can use force, subject to the newly established reasonable care standard, in behavioral health circumstances, for involuntary treatment commitments, in instances of child welfare, and other related circumstances. The Governor also signed HB 1719 (Bronoske, D-28) which clarifies that the prohibition on .50 caliber weapons only applies to rifles and not to beanbag rounds or less-lethal munitions launchers. The two bills signed Friday are well supported by the Washington Fraternal Order of Police, the Washington Coalition for Police Accountability, the Washington Association of Designated Crisis Responders, and the Association of Washington Cities, among others.

Shortly after the signing, both chambers passed bills that do not enjoy the same kind of broad support. The Senate passed HB 2037 (Goodman, D-45), which modifies the use of force by police officers. At the recommendation of Law & Justice chair Senator Manka Dhingra (D-45), the chamber did not adopt the striking amendment made by the Law & Justice Committee which would have been supported by families of those who have died. With no striker, no amendments to the striker could be adopted, including two amendments by Senator Padden (R-4) which very well could have passed with the support of moderate Democrats. The bill passed 32-16, with the 16 no votes cast by more progressive Democrats allied with the families of those who have died, who contend this is a roll-back of the work done last year.  Because the Senate passed the version of the bill that came over from the House, it will go directly to the Governor for signature. In quick succession and in a surprising move, SB 5919 (Van De Wege, D-24), the vehicle pursuit bill which seemed dead just hours prior was pulled from the Rules Committee and given a quick action on the House Floor. It passed 86-12, in a situation similar to HB 2037 in the Senate. The opposition again came from the more progressive flank of the Democratic caucus. The bill was amended so must return to the Senate for concurrence.

Last Bill Before Cut-Off

Much speculation exists leading up to the cutoffs about what which bill will be the last of the day, the 5pm bill in each chamber. Any measure, if started before 5pm, can continue after the deadline. The House Democratic leadership picked the Attorney General request high-capacity magazine bill, SB 5078 (Liias, D-21) which would prohibit the sale, manufacture, and distribution of ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds. Supporters say limiting the size of magazines forces shooters to stop and reload, giving people time to escape or stop an attack. Proponents of high-capacity magazines contend they need them for self-defense. The debate on the bill stretched over 3.5 hours, with House Democrats putting down numerous amendments from their Republican colleagues. At 11pm the bill passed unamended 55-42. It now goes to Governor Inslee for signature.  The passage of SB 5078 capped a monumental week for gun violence prevention advocates. On Tuesday night the Senate passed two bills, HB 1630 (Senn, D-41) which prohibits weapons in certain locations and HB 1705 (Berry, D-36) that concerns untraceable homemade “ghost guns.” HB 1630 heads to the Governor’s desk and HB 1705 must return to the House for concurrence.

In the Senate, Democratic Leadership picked Attorney General request HB 1616 (Simmons, D-23) for their 5pm bill which doubles the charity care given by hospitals in Washington. A floor amendment was adopted that requires the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, in consultation with the Health Benefit Exchange, to study, analyze, and report on enrollment in high deductible plans.

Important Dates

March 10 – Sine Die