A bill that will move up the state’s primary election by two weeks is on its way to the governor after a unanimous vote of approval in the State Senate Thursday, April 14. Secretary of State Sam Reed says the bill will make it easier for overseas voters, including members of the military, to cast their ballots.
Here’s the press release from Reed’s office:
Washington lawmakers have voted to move the state’s primary election two weeks earlier and to make it easier for our military and overseas voters to cast ballots electronically. Secretary of State Sam Reed, who championed the legislation, hailed the Senate’s unanimous vote Thursday that sent the measure to Governor Gregoire for her signature.
The measure, Senate Bill 5171, allows service members and Washington voters abroad to return their voted ballots by fax or email, as many states do. Currently, ballots can be sent electronically to the voter, but the final voted ballot must be returned “snail mail” before the vote will be counted.
Another key feature of the bill, also aimed at serving military and overseas voters, is moving the state’s Top 2 Primary two weeks earlier in August. That would help the state’s 39 counties meet new federal mandates that all military and overseas ballots go out at least 45 days before Election Day. Currently the state’s relatively late primary makes it difficult for some counties to get the ballots in the mail on time. (After each primary, it takes three weeks to have results certified, followed by state certification, possible recounts or court proceedings, and preparation of a wide array of ballots.)
Last year, the state got special federal permission to keep its 30-day advance mailout deadline, since Washington accepts military and overseas ballots for three weeks after the Election Day. That gives the state over 50 days total transit time. However, the feds advised Washington that the 45-day pre-election deadline is important and that the state shouldn’t try to get by with annual requests for waivers.
The measure, sponsored by Sens. Steve Hobbs, Pam Roach and others, also moves filing week earlier and revises candidate filing provisions in the event of a vacancy.
The earlier primary will begin next year.
Reed said: “We appreciate the virtually unanimous support in our Legislature for changes that will bring us into full compliance with federal law, which we have long supported. Senator Hobbs, Rep. Chris Hurst and other key legislators were extremely helpful in moving this legislation forward. and we thanks them.
“We have a long and proud history in this state of providing strong voter services to our military and to the many people whose jobs take them abroad or serve so well in mission and relief work.”
Washington has roughly 50,000 military and overseas voters, and the fifth highest military population in America. We have five military installations.
Speaking of bills passing the state House, a bill sponsored by Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, that would set energy efficiency standards for certain products passed the House.
It passed 56-41, with one member excused.
The bill would set energy efficiency minimums for the following products made starting in 2012 and sold in the state:
• Compact audio products
• DVD players DVRs
• State-regulated external power supplies
Under current state law, the following products already have energy efficiency standards:
• Automatic commercial ice cube machines
• Certain wine chillers
• Commercial hot food holding cabinets
• Commercial refrigerators and freezers
• Tub spout diverters (anyone know what these are?)
• Certain incandescent reflector lights
• Pool heaters, residential pool pumps, and portable electrical spas
• Hot-water dispensers and mini-tank electric water heaters
• Bottle-type and point-of-use water dispensers
Federal law lets states set minimum standards for products that aren’t already addressed in federal law. Click here to see the bill report.
Our Dems, Morris and Rep. Kris Lytton, D-Anacortes, voted for it. Our Republicans, Reps. Jason Overstreet, R-Blaine, and Vincent Buys, R-Everson, voted against it. Continue reading
A bill sponsored by Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Everson, that would exempt certain soil and water testing from being regulated like a well has passed the state House of Representatives.
The bill, HB 1467, states that inserting devices into the ground at a depth of 10 feet or less to test water or soils is not considered a well. That would mean it wouldn’t be regulated like on by the state Department of Ecology.
The House voted 97-0, with one member excused, to approve the bill. All of out local delegation members voted for it. Buys was the prime sponsor of the bill, although Rep. Jason Overstreet, R-Blaine, also sponsored it.
It now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Buys didn’t have anything nice to say about Ecology officials:
Currently, anyone inserting a soil sampler even a couple inches into the soil could be subject to the well permitting process. Common sense tells us many holes or divots are not wells. Unfortunately, some in the Department of Ecology think otherwise. This is a concern for the agricultural community. They are afraid simple actions they take on their farms such as checking water tables, measuring moisture or taking groundwater samples could be classified as digging a well and subject to the permit process. This bill would restore a little common sense to our soil sampling and water measuring laws. I dug wells down in Haiti to provide clean water for impoverished communities. I understand what drilling a well is, and digging twelve inches into the soil is not a well.
Hold on a minute–While Mayor Pike’s office agrees that he will appear and debate the red-light camera issue before the Northwest Business Club, there appears to be some confusion about the date. I hope you wrote this one down on your calendar in pencil. We will provide the date as soon as it becomes available.
The city of Bellingham’s proposal to install red-light cameras in some locations has become a hot issue. The cameras seem to draw opposition from a number of normally non-allied points on the local political spectrum.
Now, the Northwest Business Club is offering a public debate on the issue at a meeting scheduled for noon Wednesday March 9, 2011 at the Elks Lodge, 710 South Samish Way
Mayor Dan Pike will present the case for the cameras, while club member Dan Robbins, a club member and former mayoral candidate, offering the opposing view.
With Pike’s support, the City Council approved installation of the cameras in November 2010.
A buffet lunch commences at 11:45 and the meeting starts at noon. Cost is $10 for annual members and $15 for others. Visitors are welcome.
John Stark already highlighted some bill that are basically dead in Olympia. I thought I’d copy and paste a list of notable bill that are likely to die this session. This is from an e-mail sent out by the Senate Democrats.
Let me know if there are any you’re particularly interested in. I may be able to find time to blog on them separately. It’s going to get even crazier that it already is over here. I’ve got County Council stuff to report this week, and tomorrow the Census Bureau will release our local-level data, which I need to cover. And, to top it all off, I’m one of the hordes of people right now who are getting sick.
Anyway, here are the dead bills:
The following is a list of notable bills – not meant to be comprehensive – considered “dead” in the Senate for the remainder of the 2011 legislative unless they are revived by parliamentary procedure:
Agriculture & Rural Economic Development Committee
SB 5146 – An act relating to disclosure of production and export information on patented or trademarked fruit (Honeyford)
SB 5570 – An act relating to prohibiting the impoundment of farm vehicles under certain conditions (Honeyford) Continue reading
Publicola reports that several bills meant to aid bicyclists and transit systems failed to make legislative deadlines and won’t be enacted into law this session.
One of those bills would have authorized transit systems to raise revenue with a $20 auto license fee.
A new USA Today/Gallup Poll reports that 61 percent of Americans oppose Wisconsin-style measures to strip their state’s public employees of their collective bargaining rights.
The Wisconsin bill has triggered an uproar in the Badger State, with huge throngs of protesters filling the state capitol and teachers shutting down some public schools.
Is it too easy to blame public employee unions for state and local budget woes? Didn’t our elected officials approve the pay and benefits in union contracts in negotiations with those unions? Didn’t we elect and re-elect those officials amid warnings from many quarters that state and local budgets might not be sustainable?
A new bill in Olympia would give Washington contractors a leg up in bidding for public projects.
Click here to see the bill language.
HB 1809, which has a companion bill in the Sente, was referred to committee today. A hearing hasn’t been scheduled yet.
The bill says that the state or local governments “shall award a contract to the responsible bidder with the lowest responsive bid after a resident contractor preference of seven percent has been applied.”
The intent, of course, is to support businesses that’ll pay state workers and reinvest in our state’s economy. But what about businesses based in Portland and Coeur d’Alene, which likely still do business in urban areas of Washington just over the line?
What do you think?
State Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-40th, is among 17 sponsors of SB 5274, which would regulate the operations of “pregnancy centers” maintained by pro-life groups that encourage women not to choose abortions. A similar proposal is HB 1366 in the House.
Pro-choice advocates contend that these centers masquerade as health clinics and promote their anti-abortion agenda to women who should be getting information about all their legal and medical options.
According to NARAL, a national pro-choice group, the bill:
- Requires the centers to disclose that they do not provide service or referrals for abortion or comprehensive birth control and that they do not provide medical care for pregnant women.
- Requires the centers to keep any medical information they collect private.
- Requires the centers to provide pregnancy test results immediately.
The groups operating these centers argue that they are now providing millions of dollars’ worth of pregnancy testing and counseling to women in need, and that the provisions of the bill create potentially threatening civil liability for them. Among other things, the bill authorizes civil suits from women who contend they were damaged by the center’s activities, and give courts the power to triple any actual damages awarded.
Senate Bill 5194, sponsored by State Sen. Kevin Ranker and 13 other state senators, would impose new restrictions on sale and use of phosphorus fertilizer if passed by the Legislature and signed into law.
Among other things, the law would require immediate cleanup if anyone accidentally applies phosphorus-laden fertilizer to impervious surface, such as pavement.
The bill was scheduled for a Senate committee hearing this morning, Jan. 28.
Phosphorus-laden runoff is the biggest pollution problem facing Lake Whatcom, the source of drinking water for Bellingham and its outskirts.