February 12, 2016  
 Inside this issue
  Over 500 Participate in Advocacy Day  

 Our heartfelt thanks to all of you who participated in Catholic Advocacy Day on Feb. 8. Over 500 Catholics took part and enjoyed stimulating and sometimes provocative meetings with their legislators and staff - on a beautiful, sunny day. Read the Northwest Catholic article. Thanks to all of you who took action on the bills highlighted in last week's Bulletin - of the five bills highlighted, four of them were passed by a fiscal committee: toxic flame retardants (HB 2545), intergenerational poverty (HB 2518), mental health (HB 2439), and statewide reentry council (HB 2791).

Less than a month remains of the 2016 legislative session which is scheduled to end on Mar. 10. This past week, the focus of action in Olympia has shifted from committee hearing rooms to the floor of each chamber. "The floor" is the main gathering space of the House or the Senate where all the members of a chamber gather to debate and vote on legislation. After a bill is voted out of a policy or fiscal committee, it goes to the rules committee. This committee controls which bills are placed on the "floor calendar." Only bills on the floor calendar will be debated and voted upon by the full membership of a chamber.

A major hurdle for each surviving piece of legislation is to pass its house of origin by Feb. 17. Once a bill passes its house of origin, it will be assigned to a committee in the opposite chamber. For an overview of the legislative process, visit the Legislature's website.


  Bills Needing Action  
  BILLS NEEDING ACTION: Please take action on the bills below that WSCC supports. They are in their respective chamber's Rules Committee or on the floor calendar and need to pass their house of origin by Wed., Feb. 17. Please take action on the bills that you are following by calling the Legislative Hotline:  1-800-562-6000.  Ask support of your Senator or Representatives depending on whether the Senate or the House is presently considering the bill.

Toxic Flame Retardants
HB 2545 would prohibit a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer from manufacturing, selling, or distributing for sale or for use in this state children's products or residential upholstered furniture containing any of five flame retardants. On Feb. 3, the House Health Care & Wellness Committee amended and passed HB 2545 out of committee and the bill was referred to the House Appropriations Committee. The Appropriations Committee heard the bill on Feb. 8 and passed it on Feb. 9. HB 2545 is on the House floor calendar.

Intergenerational Poverty
Addressing poverty from a generational approach requires a shift in analyzing data and making decisions regarding public policy and funding. A child's wellbeing is inextricably linked to the wellbeing of the family. HB 2518 would establish the Intergenerational Poverty Reduction Commission to develop two-generation strategies to reduce intergenerational poverty and welfare dependence in Washington. The bill would require the Commission to develop recommendations on how the state should act to address issues relating to breaking the cycle of poverty. The bill passed the House Early Learning & Human Services Committee last month and on Feb. 8, the House Appropriations Committee heard and voted it out of committee.

Mental Health
HB 2439 would establish the Children's Mental Health Work Group to identify barriers to access of mental health services for children and families and provide for depression screening for children ages 11 to 21. The bill passed the House Early Learning & Human Services Committee last month. The Appropriations Committee heard the bill on Feb. 8 and voted it out of committee on Feb. 9.

Statewide Reentry Council
After people who have been convicted of crimes are released from jail or prison, they find many obstacles to reentering the community. Some of them fail and land back in jail. This problem is known as recidivism. HB 2791 would create the Washington Statewide Reentry Council for the purpose of promoting successful reentry of offenders after incarceration, and recommending funding for programs in state and local correctional facilities; as well as funding for housing; employment; and education programs for former offenders. The House Public Safety Committee voted unanimously to pass HB 2791 out of committee on Feb. 3. The House Appropriations Committee heard the bill on Feb. 8 and passed it on Feb. 9. HB 2791 is on the floor calendar in the House.

Human Trafficking
SB 6376 would recognize January 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day in Washington State. The bill was heard on Feb. 3 by the Senate Law & Justice Committee which voted it out of committee on Feb. 4. The bill is on the Senate floor calendar.

Other bills regarding human trafficking, which WSCC supports, continue to progress in the Legislature. HB 1651 would adjust certain legal definitions concerning human trafficking to protect foreign workers. The House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee amended HB 1651 and voted it out of committee to the Rules Committee on Feb. 4. SB 5880 would have required people who work in certain businesses to complete a minimum of one hour of training in identifying and assisting human trafficking victims. The Senate Law & Justice Committee amended this bill on Feb. 5 to strip out the required training. SB 5880 would now create a joint legislative task force to recommend a curriculum for a one-hour training by December 2016.

Parental Notification
SB 5289 would require parental notification for a minor considering an abortion.

Sex-Selection Abortions
Some abortions are done to enable the parents to select the sex of the baby. In nearly every instance, this is done to abort female babies when a couple wants a male baby. SB 6612 would prohibit intentionally performing an abortion with the knowledge that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely on account of the sex of the unborn child. The bill provides sanctions for the provider of the abortion, but does not contain sanctions for the woman seeking the abortion. The Senate Law & Justice Committee heard SB 6612 on Feb. 2 and voted it out of committee on Feb.4.


  Bills Passed by House of Origin that WSCC Supports  
  The bills in this section have already passed their house of origin. They are now awaiting a committee hearing in the opposite chamber. Please thank your Representatives and/or Senator for supporting the bills.

The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program is called WorkFirst in Washington State. This program provides eligible adults assistance to find work. HB 1875 would increase the amount of vocational training for WorkFirst recipients from 12 to 24 months, subject to the amount appropriated.  On Feb. 10, HB 1875 passed the House by an 89-7 margin. On Feb. 12, the bill was referred to the Senate Human Services, Mental Health & Housing Committee.

Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs)
Most people convicted of a crime must pay Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs) that include victim restitution, crime victims' compensation fees, etc. HB 1390 would eliminate the interest on most of the debt and limit the sanctions. On Feb. 3, the full House passed HB 1390 by a 97-0 vote. The bill is now in the Senate Law & Justice Committee.

Breakfast After the Bell
HB 1295 would require each high-needs school to offer breakfast after the bell to qualified students. HB 1295 passed the House last month by a 69-28 margin. The bill is now in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.

Voting Rights
HB 1745 would promote equal voting opportunity in certain political subdivisions by authorizing district-based elections, requiring redistricting and new elections in certain circumstances. The bill passed the House 50-47 on Feb. 4 and is now in the Senate Government Operations & Security Committee.

Human Trafficking
SB 5342 would adjust certain legal definitions concerning human trafficking to protect foreign workers. On Feb. 5, SB 5342 unanimously passed the full Senate (49-0) and on Feb. 10, it was referred to the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee.


  Bills WSCC is Monitoring  
  Oil Transport Safety
HB 2575 would direct the Department of Ecology to update and improve emergency planning to better respond to oil spills and fires.  On Feb. 5, the House General Government & Information Technology Committee heard and passed HB 2575 out of committee. The bill is on the House floor calendar.

Charter Schools
SB 6194 would address the Washington Supreme Court's concerns by designating charter schools as schools which are not common schools. The bill passed the full Senate last month, and will be heard by the House Education Committee on Feb. 19.

Initiatives to the Legislature
There are two types of initiatives:
  1. Initiatives to the People are submitted for a vote of the people at the next general election.
  2. Initiatives to the Legislature are submitted to the Legislature at its next regular session in January. Once submitted, the Legislature must take one of the following three actions:
  • The Legislature can adopt the initiative as proposed, in which case it becomes law without a vote of the people;
  • The Legislature can reject or refuse to act on the proposed initiative, in which case the initiative must be placed on the ballot at the next general election; or
  • The Legislature can approve an alternative to the proposed initiative, in which case both the original proposal and the Legislature's alternative must be placed on the ballot at the next general election.
I-732 and I-735 are Initiatives to the Legislature:

I-732 would impose a carbon emission tax on the sale or use of certain fossil fuels and fossil-fuel-generated electricity, at $15 per metric ton of carbon dioxide in 2017, and increasing gradually to $100 per metric ton (2016 dollars adjusted for inflation), with more gradual phase-in for some users. It would reduce the sales tax rate by one percentage point over two years, increase a low-income sales tax exemption, and reduce certain manufacturing taxes. The Senate Energy and Environment & Telecommunications Committee heard I-732 on Feb. 9. The initiative will be heard by the House Finance Committee on Feb. 19.

I-735 requests the state congressional delegation to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution regarding campaign finance law reform. The proposed Constitutional amendment would provide that:
  • The judiciary may not interpret the First Amendment of the Constitution, protection of free speech, to include the spending of money.
  • Government is fully empowered to regulate campaign financing to protect against undue influence over government and the political process, and that all political contributions and expenditures must be disclosed prior to an election.
The House State Government Committee heard I-735 on Feb. 2 and passed it out of committee on Feb. 3. It is now in the House Rules Committee. The Senate Government Operations & Security Committee heard I-735 on Feb. 11.



  Bills Effectively "Dead"  
SB 6298 would have sought to stabilize students who are homeless by creating a grant program for school districts to increase identification of homeless students and establish another grant program to link homeless students and their families with stable housing. The bill passed the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee but was not scheduled for a vote by the Senate Ways & Means Committee prior to the fiscal cutoff.

SB 6586 would have required the Dept. of Social & Health Services to collect and report information on the safe surrender of newborn children. An example of a safe surrender would be someone leaving a newborn baby at a fire station. The Senate Human Services and Mental Health & Housing Committee heard the bill on Feb. 4 but no vote was taken before the policy cutoff.

SB 6418 concerned the safety of oil transport. The bill received a hearing by the Senate Energy and Environment & Telecommunications Committee last month but was not scheduled for a vote prior to the cutoff.

The House Judiciary Committee heard two gun control bills; but did not schedule them for a vote:
  • HB 1747 would improve the safety of stored firearms.
  • HB 2372 would revise requirements for the disposition of forfeited firearms in the custody of local law enforcement agencies and the Washington State Patrol.


  Bills that Failed  
  SB 6443 would have required the Human Rights Commission to repeal its recent rule allowing individuals the use of gender segregated facilities "consistent with their gender expression." On Feb. 10, the bill failed in a close vote by the full Senate, 24-25.

Click here to view WSCC bulletins on our website.

The Washington State Catholic Conference (WSCC) is the public policy voice of the Catholic Bishops of Washington State.