The bills are in, now its time for state legislators to take action. Last month, we wrote about how revenue and education would be the overriding issues facing Olympia this year. That remains the case, but Capitol Hill’s 43rd District delegation — which includes Sen. Jaime Pedersen, House Speaker Frank Chopp, and Rep. Brady Walkinshaw — are involved in a number of other issues also affecting Capitol Hill.
- Medical marijuana bill passes Senate — A bill seeking to rein in the state’s largely unregulated medical marijuana system and bring it more in line with the highly regulated retail market is heading to the House after it passed the Senate earlier this month. SB 5052 would create a database of medical patients, and allow those patients to possess up to three times more marijuana than non-patient adults. Patients could grow up to six plants at home and the bill would replace the current collective garden structure with 4-person coops. The bill would also give the state Liquor Control Board, which regulated marijuana, a much needed new name: the Liquor and Cannabis Board.
- Joel’s Law moves to Senate — A bill inspired by the 2013 death of Capitol Hill resident Joel Reuter was the first to pass out of the House this year. Capitol Hill’s Rep. Brady Walkinshaw sponsored the bill, which would strengthen involuntarily commitment guidelines for people suffering from mental illness. If a county decides a person did not meet the threshold for involuntarily commitment, direct family members of that individual could appeal the decision under the new law. The bill is now in the Senate’s human service’s committee.
- Renter’s posthumous property rights — What happens to a renter’s property after they die? After Joel Reuter’s death, his parents found out there can be some frustrating barriers when it comes to retrieving property from inside a deceased family member’s apartment. HB 1754, another bill inspired by Reuter’s tragic death, would require tenants to provide landlords with contact information for person that will have control over their belongings in the event of the tenant’s death. The bill was passed out of committee earlier this month.
- Cutting rental application fees — Another Walkinshaw bill passed out of committee earlier this month would ensure renters only pay a rental application fee once by requiring landlords to accept a submitted background screening as long as it was prepared within 30 days of the application date. Landlords may choose to do their own background screening, but if one is already provided to them they cannot pass that fee onto prospective tenants.
- A transportation package that includes funding for 520 bridge, light rail — After three years of gridlock on a statewide transportation package, a bill with bipartisan emerged this month from the state Senate. The $15 billion package includes a 11.7 cent gas tax spread over three years to help fund a slew of projects, including the currently unfunded Montlake side of the 520 bridge replacement. The bill also includes authorization for Sound Transit to raise its taxes, a crucial step in moving big transit projects forward. The $15 billion Sound Transit 3 initiative would fund work to expand light rail into Ballard and possibly West Seattle, eventually adding more destinations accessible from the upcoming Capitol Hill Station.
- Outlawing ‘revenge porn’ — A pair of bills in the House and Senate seek to make a person liable for at least $10,000 in damages if they post intimate photos of someone online without that person’s consent. The “revenge porn” legislation was written in response to an incident where a computer technician stole nude photos from a female customer’s computer and threatened to post the photos online if the woman didn’t pay.