Bills of local interest

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian Assistant Metro Editor



Local legislation saw action in Olympia.

Legislation passed during regular session:

o Police dogs: House Bill 2191 to create a $5,000 fine for harming a police dog and a $10,000 fine for killing a police dog. It would remove police dogs from vicious animal statutes.

Local legislation saw action in Olympia.

• Government contracts: House Bill 2452 to crack down on government contract abuses, as well as streamline the contracting process in a way that makes it easier for small businesses to participate.

• State benefit overpayments: Senate Bill 6508 to ensure clients who were mistakenly overpaid benefits by the state Department of Social and Health Services would not have to repay the money when the error is the agency’s fault.

• Discovery information: House Bill 2195 to adopt the federal Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act, which makes it easier for legal parties outside Washington to obtain discovery information in a court case. This bill has already been signed by the governor.

Legislation not passed:

• Tax breaks: Senate Bill 6088 to put expiration dates on some tax breaks that lawmakers create, as well as require lawmakers to document the purpose of new tax breaks when creating them.

• Gun safes: Senate Bill 5697, which was prompted by the September 2010 death of former Clark County Sheriff’s deputy Ed Owens’ son, would require more testing of locks on gun safes given to law enforcement officers for home use.

• University funding: House Bill 2265 to reform how the state funds four-year universities in a way that rewards colleges that have higher graduation rates, more graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds and more graduates in high-demand fields such as math and science.

• Electronic correspondence: House Bill 2485 to allow schools’ financial paperwork to be sent electronically to county treasurers, who are charged with overseeing public school expenses.

• State retirement plans:Senate Bill 6378 to exclude future teachers, classified school staff, some law enforcement staff, and local and state government employees from the state’s “Plan 2” retirement plan, which guarantees a certain amount of money upon retirement.

• School supplies tax holiday: House Bill 2644 to create a tax holiday for back-to-school shopping with the intent to encourage more shoppers and increase state revenue.

• College building projects: House Bill 2735 to speed up smaller college construction projects by allowing more expensive projects to skip some preliminary planning steps.

• Pharmacists’ inclusion in drug act: House Bill 2512 to include pharmacists in the Legend Drug Act, which is a law that makes it illegal to sell or possess prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription.

• State cellphones: Senate Bill 6527 to limit the number of state employees with state-funded cellphones.

• Homeowners’ associations: Senate Bill 6294 to help homeowners’ associations facing attendance problems because of home foreclosures.

• Executive session video: Senate Bill 6109 to block public records requests for video and audio recordings of closed executive sessions. Local governing bodies are not required to tape their executive sessions, but some do in order to have a better record of their closed meetings.

• Expanding the middle class: House Bill 2171 to require some state agencies to establish goals for increasing the percentage of Washingtonians who are considered middle-income by the federal government.

• Audits in budgeting: House Bill 2281 to require the government to review audits of state agencies and include a progress report of those agencies when working on the budget.

• Rule-making: House Bill 1156 to suspended most agency rule-making until July 1, or until the economy improves.

• Tax incentive surveys: House Bill 2278 to require warehouses and grain elevators that get a sales and use tax break to file the same annual government survey that other businesses do.

• Spending limit: Senate Bill 8219 to establish a state spending limit based on state population and inflation rates.

• Forest agency permitting: House Bill 1157 to lengthen the number of years a forest practice permit remains valid.

• Official state language: Senate Bill 8220 to make English the state’s official language.