Editors note: the above video was recorded at an earlier date
The Washington state legislature starts this week, and lawmakers have already gotten a head start on new legislation.
Democrats and Republicans both plan on introducing healthcare, gun control, and other hot topic legislation as the 2020 presidential election looms.
While it’s still too early to say what will thrive and what will die when lawmakers dip their feet into the paper pool, here are a few bills to keep an eye on this legislative session.
More affordable insulin
Democrat Karen Keiser has proposed a central insulin purchasing program, which would attempt to control the rapidly rising cost of insulin by creating a single buyer for the state. This means healthcare providers would obtain their insulin from a single source, thus eliminating variants in price across providers.
A 2016 analysis published in JAMA found spending for insulin per patient more than tripled between 2002 and 2013, increasing from $231.48 to $736.09.
Debate over transit taxes to strike the senate
Senate Bill 6108, proposed by Republican Steve O'Ban, would nullify any transit taxes imposed on taxpayers in cities with a population of fewer than 1 million people.
Equitable access to state land and wilderness
Free public access to State Parks is getting bipartisan support in the Senate with 14 co-sponsors. If the legislation advances, it would increase access to state recreation sites like trailheads and parks by eliminating the requirement that users carry a Discover Pass. Lawmakers note in their bill that requiring people to carry a pass has decreased attendance at the sites statewide.
Based on his presidential bid, which heavily focused on the environment, it’s fair to say that Governor Jay Inslee has a lot of environmental policy up his sleeve this year. Inslee held a press conference in December that outlined his plans for the 2020 legislative session, including the establishment of more clean fuel standards and plans to drastically reduce carbon emissions.
In December of 2019, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced his proposal to ban assault-style weapons. The first stage of that ban has effectively made it to the 2020 legislative session. Lawmakers propose a ban on all assault-style and large capacity weapons, including the AK-47 and its equivalent. The bill also restricts the sale and possession of firearms to specific legal channels outlined in the bill. Inslee has signed onto the bill, which is expected to be introduced to both the House and Senate.
Universal feminine hygiene products in public schools
Another bi-partisan bill aims to require public school districts to supply menstrual hygiene products in all gender-neutral or female-identifying student bathrooms, free of charge. School districts would be responsible for bearing funding responsibility for the products.
Creating a study committee on human gene-editing
Recent developments in human gene editing, such as CRISPR technology, means ethical scientific debates are now taking a legislative approach. A human genome editing task force would seek to evaluate the safety, efficacy, and other components of human gene-editing technology, as it becomes ever more present in popular media and culture.
Increasing legislative transparency
A number of measures regarding legislation are packed into a bi-partisan bill to increase transparency in lawmaking. This includes giving the public 72 hours notice of a public hearing, eliminating title-only bills, and a 24-hour grace period after the introduction of a bill before it is voted on by the House or the Senate.
Amending the Constitution to prevent title-only bills
Those wishing to make a bill into a law can currently file it as "title only," meaning the bill only has a title and is later changed to add content. Title-only bills serve as placeholders or IOU's. A new state amendment would require the bills to be fully written at the time of submission.
Removing barriers for women and minority-owned marijuana businesses
The marijuana equity account seeks to provide access to capital funds for minority and women-owned businesses through a fee on certain investments, who legislative sponsors have found to be at a disadvantage with current legal and financial barriers.