Feb 20-24, 2023
During the seventh week of session, nearly every legislator in Olympia spent long, arduous days in a fiscal committee, hearing and voting on a tremendous number and variety of bills that have fiscal impact to the state. The week culminated in the fiscal policy cutoff on Friday, February 24. Next week, both chambers will move to the floor to debate and vote on bills until Wednesday, March 8.
Broadband Internet Map
In 2020, Congress tasked the FCC with updating the nation’s internet connectivity data, but many, including those in Washington State, say the FCC maps do not provide accurate data, vastly overestimating the broadband coverage in the region. And in recent years, connectivity has been key to accessing remote school, work, and medical appointments. On Monday, the House Capital Budget committee heard HB 1746 (Ryu, D-32). Among other elements of the bill, it requires the Statewide Broadband Office to develop and maintain its own state broadband map. Supporters of the bill say it will help provide greater clarity around where broadband service is available in Washington. The bill passed the committee unanimously.
Missing Indigenous Women
As of January 2023, the Washington State Patrol reported that 136 Native American people are currently missing in Washington, the majority from Yakama. Indigenous women are four times more likely to go missing than White women and experience murder rates that are ten times the national average. On Monday, the Senate Ways & Means committee heard SB 5477 (Torres, R-15) which reauthorizes the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Task Force until June 30, 2025, and requires law enforcement authorities investigating a missing person case to enter the case into the national missing and unidentified persons system. The bill has broad support and passed the committee unanimously.
In 2022, Colorado voters passed Proposition 122, a ballot initiative supported by 53.64% of the voters, creating a regulatory system for the growth, distribution, and sale of certain hallucinogenic and entheogenic substances derived from plants and fungi. Proposition 122 decriminalized the personal use and possession, for individuals 21 years of age and older, of such substances that were previously-classified as Schedule I controlled substances under state law. Earlier in 2022, the Washington State supplemental operating budget directed the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) to create a Psilocybin Work Group to study and make recommendations to the Legislature regarding psilocybin services in the state. This year, SB 5263 (Salomon, D-32) creates a Psilocybin Task Force to provide advice and recommendations on developing a regulatory framework for access to regulated psilocybin for Washington residents over 21 years of age. The bill was heard in Senate Ways & Means on Tuesday. Advocates say the bill creates a process for individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, and PTSD to use psilocybin in a regulated setting. The bill passed the Ways & Means committee on Friday.
Traffic Safety Stops
The House Transportation committee heard HB 1513 (Street, D-37) on Tuesday. The bill limits officers’ use of stops and detentions for non-moving violations as a primary offense, and specifies additional process requirements for traffic stops; requires written consent before an officer may search a vehicle or passengers; requires an officer to prepare a detailed report for each stop or detention; and creates a grant program focused on interventions for non-moving violations for low-income road users. The bill is supported by the Washington Coalition for Police Accountability, which includes family members of people who died in interactions with police, but is opposed by the law enforcement community. The bill passed the Transportation committee on Thursday.
Free School Meals
For the past decade, legislators have been at work on access to school breakfast and lunch for Washington state students by passing Breakfast After the Bell in 2018 (HB 1508), requiring more schools to participate in the USDA Community Eligibility Program (CEP) in 2020 (HB 2660), and providing funding to more schools required to participate in CEP as recently as 2022 (HB 1878). On Wednesday, the House Appropriations committee heard HB 1238 (Riccelli, D-3). Among other provisions, the bill requires school districts, beginning with the 2023-24 school year, to provide no-charge meals at public schools in which: educational services are provided to students in any of the grades of kindergarten through grade 5; and 30 percent or more of the enrolled students meet federal eligibility requirements for free or reduced-price lunches. The bill passed the Appropriations committee on Friday.
- March 8 – Floor cutoff – house of origin
- March 29 – Policy committee cutoff – opposite house
- April 4 – Fiscal committee cutoff – opposite house
- April 12 – Floor cutoff – opposite house
- April 23 – Sine Die
Source: Brynn Brady, Ceiba Consulting, Inc. | ceibaconsulting.com