WashingtonVotes: State Legislature gets down to work in 2020 session

2020 session began last week in Olympia

Washington state legislators returned to Olympia last week for the 2020 state legislative session, which is scheduled to adjourn March 12.

The state Legislature meets for a scheduled 105 days in odd-numbered years and 60 days in even-numbered years. Majority Democrats in the House elected Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, as the new Speaker of the House. Jinkins is the first woman to hold that position, as well as the first openly gay member to gavel in a session, in the state’s history.

She succeeds Rep. Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, who served as speaker for 20 years, one of the longest-serving state House speakers in the country. He resigned as speaker last May but continues to serve as a member of the House.

The House and Senate passed a number of bills last week that had passed during last year’s session but did not make it through both chambers. Most cleared with unanimous or near-unanimous votes, but the following are the measures that passed last week with significantly split votes:

Senate Bill 5323: Reducing pollution from plastic bags by establishing minimum state standards for the use of bags at retail establishments. This bill would ban stores from giving single-use plastic carryout bags to their customers. The measure passed the Senate on Jan. 15 by a vote of 30-19. State Sen. Emily Randall, D-Bremerton from the 26th Legislative District, voted in favor of the measure.

Senate Bill 5811: Reducing emissions by making changes to the clean car standards and clean car program. This bill would impose California’s automobile emission rules on vehicle owners in Washington. The measure passed the Senate on Jan. 15 by a vote of 26-23. Randall voted in favor.

Senate Bill 5947: Establishing the sustainable farms and fields grant program. This bill would establish a grant program intended to help agriculture reduce its carbon output. Passed the Senate on Jan. 15 by a vote of 32-17. Randall voted in favor.

Senate Joint Memorial 8014: Concerning logging and mining in the Upper Skagit watershed. This memorial would request that British Columbia work with the city of Seattle and the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission to prevent logging and mining in the Upper Skagit watershed, in order to ensure the area’s environmental and recreational resources are permanently protected. The measure passed the Senate on Jan. 15 by a vote of 29-19. Randall voted in favor.