This week the Senate confirmed that they’ve chosen a law firm to investigate the early release of over 3,000 prisoners by the Washington Department of Corrections. After issuing subpoena’s last week, they say they are moving forward with their investigation and plan to make recordings available to the public. Although carbon reduction is still a pressing issue, Senator Hobbs’ $8 carbon tax is the only alternative bill so far.
I-732 is looking like it has little chance of passing the legislature after the Department of Revenue estimated it will cost the state $914 million over the next four years and the AFL-CIO came out against the initiative this week. Environmentalists and the business community are considering an I-732 B, but nothing has been decided yet.
In addition to his proposal for a carbon tax, Senator Hobbs has introduced a minimum wage bill. Senate Bill 6087 would take effect on January 1, 2016 and allow employers to (1) Take a tip credit towards its minimum wage obligation for tipped employees; and (2) Take a sick leave credit towards its minimum wage obligation for employees who earn sick leave.
There are two proposals for McCleary with different deadlines. The original proposal House Bill matches recommendations from a bipartisan task force, requiring the 2017 Legislature to come up with a way to end the state’s over-reliance on local school levies. The Senate committee on Thursday passed its own version of the bill, amending it to change that deadline to 2018.
The bills receiving the most media attention and rendering large turnouts at the capitol are three bills regarding restrooms and gender identity. Lawmakers report getting hundreds of calls per day regarding the issue, and it’s become highly politicized. Representative Laurie Jinkins, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said that she would not hold hearings for any bills that seek to roll back a Human Rights Commission ruling that is at the heart of this debate.
In Housing, both the Senate and House held hearings on a bill that would create new regulations for tenant screening and the sealing of certain unlawful detainers. The bill is quite different than the tenant lead proposals of year’s past. It will also extend the amount of time a residential landlord has to return a tenant’s security deposit after the tenant moves out. The Senate Housing Committee also considered legislation that would make denial of a prospective tenant due to source of income and discrimination.