Rantz: Lawmakers reveal the most useless bills this session
We have quite a few serious issues facing Washington state. We have an unacceptably long backlog of untested rape kits, a Department of Corrections that releases prisoners too soon, and an ongoing assault on Second Amendment rights. So why, with a part-time Legislature, are lawmakers spending so much time on some truly bizarre, and sometimes utterly useless bills?
I took a deep dive into the bills up for consideration. But there are a lot of bills. So with the help of a handful of state lawmakers (I’m granting anonymity) I present to you some of the worst, useless, goofiest, and trolliest of them all.
Kindergartner Appreciation Month – SB 5028
Senator Sam Hunt (D-Olympia) managed to corral a bipartisan group of senators to declare September “the month of the kindergartner.” It doesn’t do much but “encourage” schools to celebrate “new kindergartners as they begin their life in education.” These kids just want candy and for you to leave them alone. This is useless, but as one lawmaker told me: “You can’t be the senator who hates kids!” so it garnered support.
If you do business with a company with slaves, you must report it – SB 5693
As one lawmaker told me, this bill would force “dairy and berry farmers … to report how many slaves they have.” It’s one of those bills that’s certainly well meaning, but under the bill from Senator Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), every Washington retail seller and manufacturer of agricultural products … must require its suppliers to report to them any violations of employment-related laws and incidents of slavery, peonage, and human trafficking within 30 days of the violation or incident including court or arbitration rulings, citations or other rulings by governmental agencies, and criminal convictions.”
Can we safely assume that if a business is being supplied by a company using slaves, that company may not actually admit to using them? Another lawmaker called this bill “wacky.”
Sasquatch is Washington’s official cryptid – SB 5615
Senator Ann Rivers (R-La Connor) introduced a bill declaring “that Sasquatch has made immeasurable contributions to Washington state’s cultural heritage and ecosystem.” As a result, she hopes that Bigfoot will be “designated as the official cryptid of the State of Washington.” The Sasquatch is not real. One lawmaker told me they wonder how much time was spent on this bill.
Replacing Lenin – HB 2120
State Rep. Brandon Vick (R-Felida) wants to replace the Fremont Lenin statue in Seattle. How will they pick a replacement? With an absurdly large study group of 13 people from across the state. Perhaps they can connect with Sen. Rivers and erect a statue for Sasquatch? One lawmaker tells me this is an utter waste of time.
Lead contamination is bad until you’re 21, then it’s OK– HB 1346
Lead contamination is bad. So bad, that a bill from Gerry Pollet (D-Seattle) would ban providing ammunition with lead to anyone under 21. But there are some caveats. After painstakingly reminding us the dangers of lead for young people (most susceptible being under 6, and they have … limited access to ammo), the bill “does not apply to ammunition that is given or permitted to be given to a person under the age of 21 by his or her parent or guardian.” Magically, for them, it’s not as bad? And what about over 21? One lawmaker joked to me: “As if lead contamination is OK after 21.”
Straw ban requires more straws – SB 5077
What started out as a ban on plastic straws by Senator Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue) has been amended to actually mandate straws. Under an amendment, straws can only be provided to customers upon request. However, “In recognition that a straw is an adaptive utensil that may provide basic accommodation for persons with disabilities to eat and drink, a food service establishment must provide a single-use plastic straw upon request to persons with disabilities.”
“The new straw ban bill is stupid,” one lawmaker told me. “…You must have straws on hand to give to disabled people. So the straw ban bill turned into a mandate to have straws on hand…”
Ship the wolves to Bainbridge Island – HB 1639
When asked for a goofy bill, one state lawmaker quickly told me, “Kretz’s let’s have a wolf sanctuary on Bainbridge Island!”
State Rep. Joel Kretz (R-Wauconda) comes from a district that’s home to about 90 percent of the state’s wolves, and they have a tendency to get hungry and kill and eat livestock. It’s causing significant problems for his constituents. When he heard that a colleague — State Rep. Sherry Appleton — wanted to ban the killing of wolves that eat livestock, he introduced his bill to troll her: it would send wolves to Bainbridge Island to live on a sanctuary island. It just so happens that Appleton represents Bainbridge.
Stop tattooing that part of your body that almost no one is tattooing – HB 1856
There seems to be a general acknowledgment that virtually no one tattoos their sclerals (the white part of your eyes), but Rep. Steve Tharinger (D-Sequim) is seeking a ban anyway. “Apparently, some people are injecting dye into people’s eyes, which causes infections and may cause blindness,” one lawmaker told me. “We deal with everything from people putting dye in their eye to tossing dwarves in the sky!” But this is insanely rare. Tharinger says that he doesn’t know of how many people have been practicing this in Washington, or even affected by it in any way.
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