Washington lawmakers spent the final day of the 2018 session scrambling to pass a range of bills before their deadline. One high-profile initiative passed early in the evening which changes how officials handle police deadly use-of-force.
Use of force
— It happened in just two days, but lawmakers managed to pass a bill and a related initiative by Thursday evening.
The Senate passed HB 3003 Thursday afternoon, which “perfects” Initiative 940, according to lawmakers. The same bill passed the House Wednesday afternoon with an amendment that will see it take effect one day after I-940 does. Yet, despite passing a bill that modifies it, the Legislature did not pass I-940 until around 6:30 p.m. Thursday — after the bill was passed. The process was a bit backwards, but lawmakers were forced to scramble at the last minute to avoid violating the state Constitution and procedural rules.
I-940 will officially be a law for one day before HB 3003 is enacted. This is designed to get around initiative rules. Normally, if the Legislature modifies an initiative, both versions must be sent to the voters for final approval. Lawmakers instead put a gap between the time the initiative goes into effect and when the related bill becomes law. It also allows enough time for anyone opposed to bring a referendum.
I-940 would allow changes to the state’s use of force law, making it easier to charge officers for using deadly force in some cases. Read more.
Following the passage of I-940, Governor Jay Inslee released the following statement:
Tonight’s actions regarding I-940 are incredibly meaningful examples of what happens when people choose to open their mind, to listen and to compromise. De-Escalate Washington overcame the odds and brought this initiative to the legislature, and I want to thank them for bringing a voice that many felt had gone unheard for too long.
During this legislative session, De-Escalate Washington, many in the law enforcement community, and a bipartisan group of legislators came together to make tremendous progress on an issue that has divided so many communities across our country.
I met with many from these groups earlier tonight and thanked them for coming together and working hard to finding true compromise. Tonight’s passage avoids politicization of an emotional issue, and I hope will bring meaningful change, progress and healing.
My belief is, and I heard from many tonight, that this should be the beginning of ongoing meaningful dialogue to keep this conversation moving forward toward a safer Washington for all.
Thank you again to Reps. Goodman, Hayes, Sens. Frockt, Pedersen and all those involved in tonight’s passage.”
Here’s a brief rundown of what happened to four other closely-watched bills:
FAILED — SB 5955 and HB 2201 would require car tabs to be calculated using what supporters say is a more accurate motor vehicle valuation system. Supporters say they’re responding to an uproar after drivers received their first bill since approving Sound Transit 3. Those bills did not come up for a vote. Read more.
PASSED — Senate Bill 6614 The Supplemental Budget (SB 6032) was passed by the Legislature. It includes the property tax relief (SB 6614) plan that will provide a one-time property tax cut for 2019, reducing property taxes by 30 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, amounting to roughly $150 off a bill for a $500,000 home. Republicans were strongly opposed to the property tax relief plan of the budget because it diverts money from the Rainy Day Fund, which they say is unconstitutional and dangerous for the state because it keeps money from going into the fund needed to cover emergencies such as a recession, earthquake or other disaster. Read more.
Gun purchase restrictions
FAILED — Senate Bill 6620 would have raised the legal age to buy semi-automatic rifles from 18 years old to 21 years old. It also included better background checks and school safety improvements. Read more.
FAILED — HB 1054 would have raised the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 years old. It also applies to the purchase of tobacco and vapor products. The House approved the bill (63-35). It didn’t come up for vote in the Senate.