WA Legislative Roundup: Police Reform, Insulin Caps, Wage Laws

OLYMPIA, WA — This year’s legislative session may only last 60 days, but that’s still plenty of time to get overwhelmed with the hundreds of bills Washington lawmakers will have to consider. If you’re lost in this year’s windfall, don’t worry: Here’s a look at some of the most important bills the state legislature is working on right now.

A bill requiring job postings to include pay scales

Sponsored by State Sen. Emily Randall (D-Gig Harbor), Senate Bill 5761 would require employers to disclose salary ranges on job postings.

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“Every job seeker deserves to have *all* the information they need to make the best career decision for themselves and their family,” Randall wrote in a Facebook post explaining the legislation. “And when they have that information, our communities benefit, our economy benefits, employers and workers benefit.”

The bill would apply to all employers with 15 or more employees and would require the opening to include hourly or wage compensation, or a range of hourly or wage compensation, as well as a “general description of all benefits and other remuneration”.

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SB 5761 passed the Senate on Wednesday and is heading home for consideration.

Insulin price cap

The Washington State Senate on Thursday passed SB 5546, which would cap the cost of insulin at $35 per month.

“Insulin is a life-saving drug,” said Sen. Karen Keizer (D-Des Moines), nill’s sponsor. “It was first used 100 years ago. There’s no reason the price of insulin should be so high today, but across the country it’s skyrocketed by 54 % in recent years. We have a responsibility to keep life-saving prescriptions affordable.”

In 2020, the legislature passed a bill capping the cost of insulin for patients at $100 per month, but that bill is set to expire early next year. If the House of Representatives passes the new bill, it would replace the $100 cap and run for another full year, until January 1, 2024.

During this period, lawmakers say they hope to create and adopt a “more permanent solution” to keep insulin prices low.

Seismic Upgrade Funding for Schools

When “the big one” strikes, Washington wants to be as ready as possible. Sen. David Frockt’s (D-Seattle) SB 5933 is helping with the effort, which is earmarking half a billion dollars for a school earthquake safety grant program, which local schools could tap into to replace or upgrade buildings. against earthquakes.

“Hundreds of school buildings across the state, from tsunami zones on the coast to seismically active areas inland, face a high risk of severe damage,” Frockt said in a written statement. “Low-probability but catastrophic hazards like earthquakes and tsunamis are among the most difficult for communities to prevent. The cost is high and the probability for a given city is that its schools will be spared a disaster, which makes it difficult to justify funding.”

“But when multiplied by all communities in potentially geologically active areas across our state – one with an unusually high risk of seismic activity, as Mount St. Helens has so enduringly demonstrated – this problem is urgent. .”

The grants would cover up to two-thirds of the cost of replacing or upgrading schools in high-earthquake or tsunami areas. The bill passed the Senate on Wednesday and is heading to the House of Representatives for consideration.

More free school meals

House Bill 1878 would require all public schools in Washington to participate in the USDA Community Eligibility Program if they are eligible, and give them the money to pay for the program’s free school lunches.

“Food is health,” said Rep. Marcus Riccelli (D-Spokane), the bill’s sponsor. “Constant access to nutritious food is part of how we protect children from disease while ensuring they have the fuel they need to learn, grow and play, and free school meals are the most effective way to ensure that all of our children are getting the nourishment they need to thrive.

The USDA Community Eligibility Program is available to select schools with a high number of students whose households receive SNAP or Medicaid assistance, have difficulty with housing stability, or are in foster care , to apply and receive free meals for all students in the school. . Proponents say making meals universally free reduces the stigma of free and reduced lunch.

Currently, 491 Washington schools are participating in the program and 9 more are in the process of joining, but HB 1878 would expand the program to an additional 626 schools.

HB 1878 passed the House on a vote of 93-3. He is now heading to the Senate.

A cancellation of the police accountability bills

Last year, the Legislature passed House Bills 1054 and 1310, two landmark police reform acts. The first “established requirements for the tactics and equipment used by peace officers” by setting limits on when tear gas can be deployed and when officers can use chokeholds or stand. engage in vehicular pursuits against suspects. The second established a statewide standard for police use of force. Both were met with a strong and negative response from police and law enforcement, who claimed the new regulations were too restrictive.

In response to this pushback, lawmakers are considering SB 5919 and HB 2037 — both of which would lower the bar for police to use physical force against suspects, though the extent to which the bar is lowered differs from bill to bill. ‘other. Supporters have argued that both bills are necessary to protect officers during their arrests, but others aren’t so sure. ACLU policing lawyer Enoka Herat told The Stranger SB 5919 it was “a dangerous step backwards” that would hamper police accountability.

Ban on the sale of large-capacity magazines

Finally, legislation banning the sale of gun magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds in Washington was passed by the state Senate on Wednesday night, with senators voting 28-20 to advance the bill. bill to the House for final approval.

This bill, SB 5078, would not prevent gun owners from owning large capacity magazines, but would prohibit retailers from selling or distributing them in the state. The legislation was formally requested by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who celebrated the bill passing the Senate.

“The Legislature placed public safety above the interest of the gun lobby,” Ferguson said. “This historic vote represents a milestone in the fight against mass shootings. The devastation of mass shootings traumatizes entire communities. The research is clear – banning the sale of high-capacity magazines saves lives. It is time for the House of Representatives to act and this public safety bill to the governor.

If the bill passes through, Washington would become the 10th state to impose restrictions on high-capacity magazine sales.

Read more: WA Senate approves bulk magazine sales ban

Friday was the 33rd day of the 60-day legislative session of 2022. Tuesday will be the last day the legislature can pass bills in its original house. The last day to pass bills that have already passed through the house opposite will be March 4, and the session will officially end on March 10, 2022.