How they voted in Olympia

  • Tue Feb 19th, 2019 6:00pm
  • News

After cancellation of hearings due to extreme weather and road conditions early last week, state lawmakers returned to a full schedule of committee hearings, as well as floor votes by the full House and Senate. They passed nearly two dozen bills, most by near-unanimous votes. Bills passed by split votes include an anti-fracking measure passed by the Senate on Wednesday, and elimination of the death penalty passed by the Senate on, Friday. Here are the roll calls selected for this week’s report by WashingtonVotes:

Senate Bill 5339, Eliminating the death penalty and instead requiring life imprisonment without possibility of release or parole for aggravated first degree murder. Passed the Senate on February 15, 2019 by a vote of 28-19, two members excused.

This bill provides that the death penalty would be eliminated, and all statutory procedures for imposing and carrying out a sentence of death would be repealed. It would impose a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of release or parole on a person convicted of aggravated first degree murder. Washington has had capital punishment of some form since the state’s territorial days. The current death sentence law was enacted in 1981, but Governor Inslee issued a moratorium on the execution of death sentences in 2014. The Washington Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that the way the death sentence was being carried out in the state is unconstitutional, but found that the death penalty as such is not unconstitutional. It left open the possibility that the Legislature could enact a carefully drafted law that would meet constitutional requirements. Instead, SB 5339 would eliminate the death penalty altogether. The bill is now headed to the House for further consideration.

19th District Sen. Dean Takko (Longview) (D) N

24th District Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (Sequim) (D) N

Senate Bill 5145, Concerning the use of hydraulic fracturing in the exploration for and production of oil and natural gas. Passed the Senate on February 13, 2019 by a vote of 29-18, two members excused.

This bill would prohibit the use of hydraulic fracturing, a process that injects water into the ground under pressure to explore for oil and natural gas, commonly known as “fracking.” The proposed ban is meaningless since there is currently no oil and gas exploration in Washington. Still, Senate Republicans noted that fracking is effective and safe, and could be an energy-producing option in Eastern Washington areas. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, and Natural Resources.

19th District Sen. Dean Takko (Longview) (D) Y

24th District Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (Sequim) (D) Y

House Bill 1175, Concerning authorization of health care decisions by an individual or designated person. Passed the House on February 14, 2019 by a vote of 71-25, two members excused.

National data shows that only 26 percent of citizens have an advance health care directive concerning their wishes for treatment. There are many people in hospitals who have not been able to prepare advance direction, and there are not enough people authorized by law to help make decisions for patients when a patient is incapacitated. This bill would expand the list of individuals who can give informed consent for treatment to include an unrelated adult who has exhibited care and concern for the patient; is familiar with the wishes and values of the patient; and is reasonably available to make health care decisions. The bill also includes procedural safeguards such as a requirement for a nonrelative to sign a declaration that there is a connection to the person. The bill is headed for the Senate for further consideration.

19th District Rep. Brian Blake (Longview) (D) Y

19th District Rep. Jim Walsh (Aberdeen) (R) N

24th District Rep. Mike Chapman (Port Angeles) (D) Y

24th District Rep. Steve Tharinger (Sequim) (D) Y

House Bill 1066, Requiring debt collection complaints to be filed prior to service of summons and complaint. Passed the House on February 14, 2019 by a vote of 59-37, two members excused.

This bill would prohibit a collection agency from serving a debtor with a summons and complaint unless the summons and complaint have been filed with a Washington Superior Court and bear the case number assigned by the court. In testimony during committee hearings, supporters of the bill said requiring collection agencies to file the complaint before serving the defendant adds certainty and transparency to debt collection lawsuits. They said debtors are often confused when they receive a summons and complaint which contain no filing number from the court. Debtors who then do their due diligence and call the court to ask about the case are told there has been none filed and often disregard the service of process. Opponents of the bill said collection agencies provide an important service to businesses owed money, and singling them out in this bill shines a bad light on them. They said many debtors served with a summons and unfiled complaint fail to respond not because they are confused, but because they do not dispute the debt. The bill is now headed to the Senate for further consideration.

19th District Rep. Brian Blake (Longview) (D) Y

19th District Rep. Jim Walsh (Aberdeen) (R) N

24th District Rep. Mike Chapman (Port Angeles) (D) Y

24th District Rep. Steve Tharinger (Sequim) (D) Y

SOURCE: WashingtonVotes.org is a project of the Washington Policy Center. Please visit www.WashingtonVotes.org.

Y = Yes, N = No, E = Excused, X = Not Voting