Gun magazine ban, felon voting rights die at session cutoff
A key deadline has come and gone in Olympia, as most bills had to get a vote Wednesday before the session cutoff to stay alive.
All eyes were on House Bill 2240, another effort to ban high capacity magazines. It was readied for a vote days before the deadline for the House to debate and vote on it, but House Republicans buried it in what might be an historical number of amendments (120).
Less than a day after the bill to ban high capacity magazines died in the House, there’s a brand new version of the bill from Democrats with a stronger title to protect against additional amendments.
A few hours before the 5 p.m. session deadline Wednesday to vote bills out of the House, Rep. Drew Stokesbary said they were winding down early and only voting on non-controversial bills the rest of the day, dealing with specialized license plates and the state clam.
Majority Democrats did not pull the gun magazine bill for a vote because the time it would have taken to get through a debate on 120 amendments would have eaten time needed to pass other bills before the cutoff.
House Speaker Laurie Jinkins said Thursday that they had the votes to pass it.
The Alliance for Gun Responsibility slammed House Republicans for their “bully tactics.”
“We are outraged by this blatant attempt to misuse procedural measures to run out the clock on this lifesaving policy,” Renee Hopkins, the gun safety group’s CEO, said in a statement moments after it became clear the bill would die. “In Washington state, at least 26 people have been killed and 45 more have been injured in mass shootings involving high-capacity magazines, including the shooting in downtown Seattle just last month that left one dead and seven others wounded. These amendments are not about having a genuine debate about keeping our families and communities safe. This is a dishonest ploy, using obstructionist tactics, to try to bury this reasonable bill. Over and over again, Washingtonians have demanded action to prevent gun violence. We can’t let a handful of out-of-touch representatives beholden to the gun lobby undermine the will of the people and continue to put our families at risk. We are counting on our elected officials to stop playing politics and do their job to keep our families and communities safe.”
Also dying in the House, HB 2907, the proposal backed by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine that would let King County enact an excise tax on big businesses. But it got new life.
After the bill died, there was quickly chatter at the capitol about behind-the-scenes talks raising the possibility of an all new bill to continue the effort. That bill dropped Thursday morning.
In the Senate, there was a big defeat for Democrats trying to pass a bill to restore voting rights to felons automatically, and even earlier while they are still under DOC supervision – the state’s version of parole.
“It’s the right thing to do,” said Democratic Sen. Patty Kuderer shortly after the bill failed.
Kuderer said the existing law was rooted in racism and is a wrong that needs to be corrected.
“It was designed to disproportionately affect minorities, and it’s been exceptionally successful in doing that,” Kuderer said.
Opposed Republicans tied up debate with amendments, and questioned what made this bill so important that it got the final action before a deadline that left other vital policy proposals dead. Tensions rose and Democrats abruptly ended the debate, killing the bill for this year.
Kuderer plans to work on the bill and bring it back next session.