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See the new Washington laws now in effect

Hundreds of bills signed by Gov. Jay Inslee went into effect July 28. Here is a list of high-profile items.

Hundreds of bills signed by Gov. Jay Inslee went into effect July 28. 

Those include a number of high-profile rules and laws that caught the public's attention during the 2019 Legislative session.

Unless otherwise noted, they go into effect July 28. 


SHB 1599: High school graduation requirements

Washington state high school students are no longer required to pass statewide tests in English and language arts, math, and science to graduate. Other graduation pathways include passing the AP or International Baccalaureate tests in relevant subjects, getting admitted into a college or career training program, or completing technical education classes relevant to the student’s post-high school plans.

SB 5023: Ethnic studies

By September 2020, the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction must develop ethnic studies curriculum and resources for students in seventh-12th grades and encourage schools to incorporate the material. The curriculum aims to give students the skills needed to be global citizens and appreciate diverse cultures.

SB 5612: Holocaust education

Schools are “strongly encouraged” to include lessons about the Holocaust in middle and high schools. The Holocaust could also become a mandatory part of school curriculum by 2022.


SB 5695: Fines for HOV lane violators

Steeper fines were established for drivers who violate HOV lane rules, such as traveling solo in the carpool lane. The first infraction carries an extra $50 penalty, and subsequent infractions within two years carry an additional $150 ticket. That’s on top of a $136 fine, which was already in place.

For drivers that use a doll or dummy to thwart the authorities, they also pay a separate penalty of $200.

HB 1197: Gold Star license plates

Family members who qualify for a Gold Star license plate are exempt from license fees and motor vehicle excise taxes in addition to the previous exemption for fees associated with the plate itself. Additionally, widows and widowers who qualify for a Gold Star license plate but choose to get a different plate are also exempt from motor vehicle excise taxes.

HB 2058: Purple Heart license plates

Purple Heart license plate recipients are now exempt from paying vehicle license fees and motor vehicle excise taxes in addition to the previous exemption for the special license plate fee.

HB 1014: Motorcycle insurance

Motorcyclists are required to carry liability insurance or risk being fined. If a motorcyclist is caught without insurance, they could face a fine of $550 or more. If a motorcyclist without insurance is in an accident where someone is injured, their license could be revoked.


HB 1095: Medical marijuana in schools

Schools must allow parents to give their child marijuana-infused products on school grounds for medical purposes. However, the student must be a qualifying medical marijuana patient, and the student can’t smoke or inhale the product.

HB 1638: Philosophical vaccine exemptions

Parents can no longer cite personal or philosophical reasons as the basis for not vaccinating their child against measles, mumps, and rubella before sending them to a school or licensed day care.

Day care workers and volunteers also must show they have gotten the MMR vaccine, have immunity, or provide a certificate that the vaccine isn’t medically advisable.

SHB 1930: Accommodations for breastfeeding moms

Employees now have the right to break time for pumping breast milk for two years after the birth of a child. Their employer also must give them a private place to pump other than the bathroom or work with the employee to find a convenient location if there isn’t someplace private that would work.

SB 5602: Insurance coverage for reproductive health care

Starting in 2021, health insurance plans must cover condoms; screening, medically necessary services, and medication after a sexual assault; prenatal vitamins for pregnant people; and breast pumps for covered people.

SB 5649: Statute of limitations for sexual assault

Sexual assault victims are now allowed more time to report those crimes and press charges.

The statute of limitations was removed for many sexual assaults against children, such as child rape, child molestation, or rape in the first or second degree if the victim was under 16 years old. Victims have 20 years to come forward for rape in the first or second degree if they were over 16. They have 10 years for rape in the third degree. People who were victims of incest or commercial sex abuse as a child have until their 30th birthday or 10 years after the crime to report it.


SHB 1513: Youth voter registration - effective July 1

Starting July 1, 16- and 17-year-olds could get their names on a pre-registration voter list, which will automatically turn into a voter registration when they turn 18 years old.

Previously Washington allowed teens to register to vote if they will be 18 by the next election.

The goal of pre-registration is to increase how many youth vote in elections.

SB 5063: Prepaid postage for elections - effective July 1

Starting July 1, all ballot return envelopes now include prepaid postage in hopes of reducing barriers to voting and boosting voter turnout.


HB 1440: Rent increase notice

All landlords need to provide renters a minimum of 60 days’ notice of an increase in rent. An increase cannot go into effect prior to the completion of the term of the rental agreement.

For those in subsidized housing where rent is based on income or other circumstances, landlords must provide a minimum of 30 days’ notice of an increase in rent.

SB 5600: 14-day eviction notices for overdue rent

Landlords must provide a tenant 14 days’ notice, instead of three, to pay and vacate for overdue rent. Additionally, information on where to find legal or advocacy resources and the tenant’s right to interpreter services at court.


HB 1055: No-contact orders/arrest

Grants an officer who has probable cause to believe someone has violated a no-contact order issued in a criminal trafficking or promoting prostitution case without a warrant.

The bill builds on a 2017 effort to establish no-contact orders in trafficking and promoting prostitution crimes.

SHB 1949: Study for single-point system for background checks

Directs the Office of Financial Management to conduct a feasibility study and make recommendations regarding a single, more uniform firearm background check system. A final report to the governor must be submitted by Dec. 1.

SB 5551: Courthouse dogs can accompany witnesses

Witnesses can request that a dog accompany them while testifying in court, if a dog and handler are available. Courts with an available courthouse dog must allow witnesses under the age of 18 or those with developmental disabilities to be accompanied by a dog.

The court will determine whether a witness can use a dog by considering the dog’s credentials and insurance; the witness and dog developed a relationship; and the assistance is necessary.

EHB 1465: Pistol sales and transfers - effective July 1

Firearm dealers must either get notification by a police chief or sheriff that a gun buyer is eligible to posses the firearm and an application is approved; or 10 business days have elapsed since the application was received by law enforcement. The time period may be extended by up to 60 days if certain criteria hasn’t been met.

Expires in June 2022 or six months after a single point of contact firearm background check system is operational in Washington.

E2SHB 1646: Juvenile confinement

Extends the maximum age of confinement for people convicted in adult court of a crime that was committed while they were under 18 and creates a process for reviewing the transfer of someone in the Department of Corrections to a juvenile detention center. 

HB 1739: Undetectable firearms

Outright undetectable guns that don’t trigger common scanners banned. Specifically, any firearm that doesn’t contain at least 3.7 ounces of steel and any gun that won’t show a recognizable outline in an X-ray machine.

The bill stops short of banning untraceable guns, defined as guns without a serial number from a licensed manufacturer. Making untraceable guns for personal use is still legal within certain limits.


HB 1579: Chinook abundance

Boosts the salmon population by allowing the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to halt hydraulic projects that could harm fish, changing the penalties for violating the hydraulic code, authorizing fishing licenses for smelt, and liberalizing catch limits for other types of fish like bass and channel catfish.

HB 1578: Oil transportation safety

Requires tug boat escorts for certain barges that haven’t required escorts in the past, because they’re smaller and have been considered less of a threat. Advocates of the bill say additional escorts would serve as a backup safety measure to prevent potential oil spills.

SB 5577: Boat noise and orcas

Requires boats must stay at least 300 yards away from orcas instead of 200 yards under current law. It would also add a prohibition on being positioned within 400 yards behind an orca and add a speed limit of 7 knots when within half a nautical mile of an orca.

SB 5918: Whale Watching guidelines

The Boating Safety Education Program must now include educational materials on whale watching guidelines and other voluntary and regulatory measures related to whale watching.

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