Dear friends and neighbors,
The 2023 Legislature has passed its first major deadline – last Friday was the deadline for bills to be passed out of committee to stay “alive” and potentially be passed into law. There are exceptions for bills that are considered “necessary to implement the budget” – this usually means bills that raise, lower, or change taxes, so the deadline doesn’t apply to our Washington State Wealth Tax or Margin Tax proposals – but it really cuts down on what’s up for consideration by the legislature.
This is both good and bad news. Every year, some great bills fail to get out of committee and are done for the remainder of the year but could be considered again in the next session. There have been more than 1,500 bills introduced this year between the House and the Senate combined, and that long list must be narrowed down at some point to where we’re going to focus our time on the Senate floor.
We love constituent visits here at the Capitol – these are small business owners from the group Ventures, here to talk about how we can advocate for our neighborhood entrepreneurs and small businesses (including through my SB 5708).
I’m happy to report that most of the legislation I’m proposing this year is still alive in one form or another. A few of my major bills that are still moving include –
- SB 5280, my bill to make members of the clergy mandatory reporters of child sexual abuse. The main outstanding question with this bill is whether or not there’s support to close an exemption for what’s called “clergy-penitent privilege” – basically, whether something said in confession does or does not have to be reported. I want to pass the strongest bill possible and I appreciate this editorial from the Seattle Times calling on the legislature to close the confession exemption.
- SB 5474, reforming financial penalties for juveniles caught up in our justice system. This bill will reduce recidivism and help young people in bad situations turn their lives around. You can read more about the bill in this Seattle Times editorial.
- SB 5216, to trigger reexamination of licenses for drivers responsible for collisions that cause injury or death. Washington is in a traffic safety crisis, and this bill is part of a larger package of legislation that we’re proposing to help reduce fatalities and injuries on our roadways.
- SB 5364, to make it easier to build starter homes by streamlining the process for splitting a real estate lot in two. Adding flexibility for people who want to build two small homes instead of one big house on a large lot helps expand our housing supply, especially of affordable housing, at a time when it’s desperately needed.
Some of my bills may appear “dead”, but not so fast! We introduced the same bill in both the House and the Senate, talked about it, and decided that the House version is the one that should pass! Excited to share several of my bills are advancing through this method, including:
- SB 5706, to protect the communications of workers trying to organize a union. It’s unfair for the bosses to be able to listen in on the communications between workers and their shop stewards. It makes it harder for the workers to organize and opens the possibility of an employee being punished or discriminated against by their boss – let’s protect those conversations.
- SB 5204, to require that fertility services are covered under health insurance. Building a family isn’t always easy, and most of us know someone who has had the help of more complicated services like in vitro fertilization. All Washingtonians should be afforded the ability to grow their own family, and everyone should have access to these technologies, without cost as a barrier.
- SB 5708, to allow people to operate small food service businesses out of their home kitchens. I’ve worked on this issue for a few years now, and you can read about these “microenterprise home kitchens” in the Seattle Times here. It’s really cool that people could run these small operations to sell tasty food to their friends and neighbors, and I love the idea of lowering the barriers that prevent that!
- SB 5456, to add flexibility on parking requirements for new housing, and I’m working with my new seatmate Rep. Julia Reed on this one. If developers want to include parking in any new development, fine, they can, but if you’re within a quarter mile of major rapid transit, we shouldn’t require it. Parking spots are surprisingly expensive (one parking spot can add $60,000 to the cost of an apartment or home in Seattle!) and as we pursue our goal of expanding affordable housing, this should be part of the solution.
I’m excited to have these House versions of my bills moving forward!
One bill that I’m glad died was from the Republicans – SB 5185, which would ban abortions in many cases. I think folks in our district know that with Roe v. Wade overturned by the Supreme Court, Democrats in our state government are the last line of defense for the right to abortion here in Washington state. We didn’t even give that bill a hearing, and I have no tolerance for anti-abortion efforts in the Legislature.
On the Senate floor talking with my friend Sen. Manka Dhingra of Redmond
Now that bills have passed through their policy committees, there’s one more deadline this week for bills that spend money – they have to be heard and passed by the Ways & Means Committee, which handles our budget. That deadline is this Friday. But now, our focus shifts to floor action, and passing bills over to the House. I’m hopeful that my first piece of legislation will be passed this week and we’ll be able to work in earnest on so many of the issues and policies before us. The deadline for floor action on Senate bills is March 8, so we have just two and a half weeks to debate, amend, and vote on the hundreds of bills that are still before us.
As we go into floor action, I want to hear from you! What are your questions, your priorities, and your stories about the issues and policies that affect your life, your family, and our community? You can reach me any time at Noel.Frame@leg.wa.gov, and your input is essential for me to serve you well. You can also follow my social media for updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as staying on the list for these e-newsletters.
Thank you so much for reading, and stay well!
Sen. Noel Frame