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Bills for clean energy, ghost guns, campaign donations pass in Olympia


State Democrats and Gov. Jay Inslee’s clean energy agenda scored a victory Monday, with the Legislature passing his 100 percent clean energy bill.

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“This comprehensive legislation is a bold, thoughtful, and measured step forward, to recognize that we can embrace decarbonization as a strategy in our electric sector, and throughout our state,” the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Reuven Carlyle said.

The bill mandates that all electrical utilities in Washington state transition to 100 percent, carbon neutral electric supply by 2030, and 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045.

Essentially, it would eliminate all coal-fired electricity in the state. That being so, it might not be quite the tall order it initially seems on paper, given that 75 percent of Washington state’s electricity already comes from hydro-power.

Washington state is also the leading hydro-electric producer in the entire country, produced by 10 total plants, eight of which are placed strategically along the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

Other bills as we near the end of the session

As the end of the legislative session on Sunday closes in, a pair of other bills saw their respective fates this week.

Also headed to Gov. Inslee’s desk is a bill requiring more transparency from political action committees.

“It makes it so that those sending out political ads can no longer use shell PACs or political action committees with friendly-sounding names to hide who their true donors are, and it will require that the top donors to those PACs be listed on political ads,” said Democratic Rep. Mike Pelliciotti.

Right now in Washington state, any political ad is required to list its top five donors. Under this new bill, if any of those top five donors are political action committees, the top three contributors to those PACs must also be denoted.

Rounding things off was the passage of a bill from State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, banning the manufacturing and possession of undetectable 3D-printed guns. The bill also outlaws the sending of blueprints for a printable gun file to individuals ineligible to possess guns.

“I support the Second Amendment. However, we cannot allow felons and other dangerous individuals to get around our state’s background check requirements by printing untraceable, undetectable 3D-printed guns,” Ferguson said in a news release.

Not making it out of the Legislature in time is a controversial data privacy and facial recognition technology bill.

In theory, that bill proposed to allow people to contact companies and ask what information they have on them. People could then ask the company to delete such data.

The ACLU, though, cited problems with the bill’s language.

“The first problem is that it was written by the technology companies themselves,” said Shankar Narayan, technology and liberty project director with the ACLU. “And it was stacked up with loopholes so that a company that holds your data can override your consent around that data.”

The bill also carried a measure that allowed facial recognition technology in any public place, provided a placard denotes that the technology is in use. Essentially, walking into a space or building with that placard would have been akin to giving consent to the technology’s use.

According to a report from the Everett Herald, that was a “nonstarter” for many in the House Democratic Caucus.

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