Washington State’s Legislative Session ended on April 28, 2019.  This was the first time in a decade that the legislature did not have to go into special session.  A record number of bills (over 250) were passed during this session and as a result we have some good news to celebrate as many of NOW’s priority bills passed have passed both houses and been signed by Governor Inslee into law. 

They are:

Health Care Legislation Celebrations

  • Dental Coverage for Pacific Islanders Residing in Washington (SB 5274) creates a dental care program for Washington residents who are citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau.
  • Healthcare Provider Misconduct Notice  (HB 1198) requires a health care provider who is subject to the uniform disciplinary act and has been sanctioned by a disciplining authority for sexual misconduct to provide a disclosure to all patients before a patient’s first visit with the licensee following the sanction
  • Maternal Mortality Reviews (SB 5425) –  Modifies the definition of “maternal death” for purposes of the Maternal Mortality Review Panel (Panel) and the composition of the Panel. Allows the Panel to retain and obtain identifiable data for purposes of quality improvement. Allows the Panel to share data or findings with other public health agencies and tribes pursuant to a data sharing agreement.  The requirements for data sharing agreement prohibit identifying information for the deceased individuals and their families from being released and any attempts of the recipient from attempting to identify these individuals.
  • Nonresident Pharmacies (HB 1412) –  Requires nonresident pharmacies to submit to the Department of Health copies of recent inspection reports conducted by inspection programs approved by the Pharmacy Quality Assurance Committee in order to receive or renew licensure
  • Reproductive Health Care Access for All (SB 5602) – Prohibits the Health Care Authority, Medicaid managed care plans, health plans, and student health plans from automatically denying coverage for reproductive health care services that are ordinarily or exclusively available to individuals of one gender based on the fact that the individual’s gender assigned at birth, gender identity, or gender recorded in government documents is different from the gender for which the services are ordinarily or exclusively available. Requires that health plans and student health plans provide coverage for condoms, screening and services for health needs arising from a sexual assault, well-person preventive visits, prenatal vitamins, and breast pumps. Requires health carriers offering qualified health plans to bill enrollees through a single invoice. 
  • Standardized Health Care Plans (SB 5526) – Requires the WA Health Benefit Exchange to develop standardized plans. And establishes regulations for insurance plans in the exchange such as reducing deductibles, making more services available before the deductible, provide predictable cost sharing, reducing barriers to maintaining and improving health, and encouraging choice based on value while limiting increases in health plan premium rates.  
  • Washington Indian Health Improvement Act (SB 5415) – Establishes the Governor’s Indian Health Advisory Council to adopt the biennial Indian Health Improvement Advisory Plan. Establishes the Indian Health Improvement Reinvestment Account to collect receipts from new state savings achieved through recent federal reimbursement policy changes and to fund programs, projects, and activities that are identified in the Indian Health Improvement Advisory Plan.  The goal of the Washington Indian Health Improvement Act is to raise the health status of American Indians and Alaska Natives and improve delivery of services by increasing access to care, strengthening continuity of care, and improving population health through investment in capacity and infrastructure.

Equal Protection Under the Law Celebrations

  • Filipino American History (SB 5865) – Declares October as Filipino American history month.
  • Keep Washington Working Act (Immigration) (SB 5497) – Creates the Keep Washington Working statewide work group. Requires the Attorney General to publish model policies for limiting immigration enforcement to the fullest extent possible consistent with state and federal laws for certain entities. State agencies must review their confidentiality policies and identify any changes necessary to ensure that personal information collected on individuals is limited to that necessary to perform agency duties and is not used or disclosed for other purposes. Policies must clearly state that public employees may not condition services or request information or proof regarding a person’s immigration or citizenship status, or place of birth, except as required by law. The policies must also ensure that public services are available to, and public employees shall serve, all Washington residents without regard to immigration or citizenship status.
  • LGBTQ Commission (SB 5356) – Creates the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Commission within the Office of the Governor. Declares June of each year as LGBTQ Pride Month. Designates the fourth week in June as a time for people of this state to celebrate the contributions to the state by LGBTQ people in the arts, sciences, commerce, and education.
  • Native American Voting Rights Act (SB 5079) – Permits online voter registration using a tribal identification card. Permits those living on an Indian reservation or Indian lands to use a tribally designated building as their mailing or residential address when registering to vote. Allows tribes to request voter registration services and ballot drop boxes on Indian reservations. Creates a civil cause of action to enforce certain violations.
  • Prepaid Postage for All Election Ballots (SB 5063) Requires prepaid postage on return envelopes for all elections, with county costs for the postage to be reimbursed by the state.
  • Transportation Funding and Tribes (HB 1584) – Sets a requirement for regional transportation planning organizations to be eligible for state funds that they make reasonable opportunity for voting membership for federally recognized tribes that hold a reservation or trust lands within their planning area of the organization.
  • WA State Diversity, Equity and Exclusion Act  (I 1000)- Redefines Affirmative Action to provide equal opportunity in Education, Employment and Contracting (Entrepreneurship) for the following groups: Women, Veterans, Persons with Disabilities, and People of Color. It eliminates quotas and preferential treatment from Affirmative Action.  It expands Affirmative Action to include all Honorably discharged Veterans. Provides protection for Washington’s colleges & universities from federal penalties should they utilize race as a factor in their student admissions programs.  Expands the term, “sexual orientation” to all state anti-discrimination laws,  and Creates Washington State’s 1st Governors Commission on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.
  • Wage and Hour – Meal and Rest Breaks and Overtime for Health Care Employees (HB 1155) – Provides that certain hospital employees must be allowed to take uninterrupted meal and rest periods, except under limited circumstances. Provides that if a rest break is interrupted before 10 minutes is complete, under certain conditions, the employee must be given an additional 10 minute uninterrupted break. Amends the prohibition on mandatory overtime in health care facilities to: (1) include additional employees; and (2) prohibit the employer from using prescheduled on-call time to address certain staffing circumstances. Requires that an employee accepting overtime who works more than 12 consecutive hours must be provided the option of at least eight consecutive hours of uninterrupted time off. Provides that critical access hospitals, hospitals with 25 acute care beds in operation, and hospitals certified as sole community hospitals are not subject to the new provisions until July 1, 2021, and certain health care employees who are not nurses are not subject to the new overtime provisions until July 1, 2020.

Violence Against Women Legislation Celebrations:

  • Domestic Violence Programs  (HB 1517) Modifies definitions pertaining to domestic violence (DV) to distinguish between DV committed by intimate partners and family or household members in order to facilitate data analysis. Requires the Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress to develop a training curriculum for DV treatment providers. Requires the Washington State University Department of Criminal Justice to develop a DV risk assessment tool to be used by the Department of Corrections. Establishes requirements for DV offenders participating in the Special Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative, and modifies community custody conditions for DV offenders. Establishes requirements for deferred prosecutions involving DV behavioral problems. Specifies timeframes for which DV no-contact orders entered as a condition of sentence remain in effect. Requires the enforcement of civil DV protection orders issued by Canadian courts.
  • Domestic Violence Resources (HB 1533) – Requires that the employment security department create a domestic violence poster with a space for an employer to provide the name or names of community resources regarding domestic violence.  The poster is required to be posted with the other required employment posters.
  • Increasing Access to Emergency Assistance for Victims by Providing Immunity from Prosecution for Prostitution Offenses in Some Circumstances  (HB 1382) Allows for persons seeking emergency assistance or seeks emergency assistance for a victim of a violent offense, assault in the third degree, assault in the fourth degree or rape in the third degree to not be charged with prostitution if the evidence of the charge was obtained as a result of the need for emergency assistance.
  • Legislative Code of Conduct (SB 5861) – Requires the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate to develop and provide a training course for registered lobbyists regarding the Legislature’s Code of Conduct and any policies related to appropriate conduct adopted by the Senate and House of Representatives. Requires lobbyist registration statements to include an attestation that the lobbyist has completed the training course. Requires the Public Disclosure Commission to revoke the registration of registered lobbyists who do not update their registration materials to include the attestation by December 31, 2019.
  • Missing and Murdered Native American Women (HB 1713) – Establishes two liaison positions within the Washington State Patrol for the purpose of building relationships between government and native communities. Requires the Washington State Patrol to develop a best practices protocol for law enforcement response to missing persons reports for Indigenous women and other Indigenous people. Requires the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs to provide the Washington State Patrol with government-to-government training
  • Possession of Firearms (SB 5205) – Prohibits a person from possessing a firearm if his or her charges are dismissed based on incompetency to stand trial and the court makes a finding indicating that the person has a history of one or more violent acts.
  • Protection Orders (HB 1786) – requires that a court when issuing a protection order, no-contact order, or restraining order to also issue an order prohibiting the individual from accessing, obtaining, or possessing any firearms or other dangerous weapons if evidence shows the individual used, displayed, or threatened to use a firearm or other dangerous weapon.  It also requires the surrender of any concealed pistol license by the individual.  It also changes the language in the law from “intimate partner” to “protected person”.
  • Safety and Security for Adult Entertainers (HB 1756) – Requires adult entertainers to take training relating to the rights and responsibilities of entertainers, reporting of injuries, and other matters to receive or renew an adult entertainer license issued by a local government on or after July 1, 2020. Requires adult entertainment establishments to provide panic buttons in certain locations and to ban customers for three years if an accusation of violence or harassment against the customer is supported by a statement made under penalty of perjury or other evidence. Requires the Department of Labor and Industries to establish an adult entertainer advisory committee.
  • Sexual Assault Kit Notice (HB 1016) – Requires a hospital that does not perform sexual assault evidence kit collection or does not have an appropriate provider available, to notify any individual who presents at the emergency department requesting a sexual assault evidence kit collection that it does not provide the service, and to coordinate care with the local community sexual assault agency to assist the patient in finding a facility with an appropriate provider available.
  • Sexual Assault Protection Orders (HB 2951) – Removes the requirement that a petitioner must allege reasonable fear of future dangerous acts when seeking a sexual assault protection order.
  • Supporting Sexual Assault Survivors (HB 1166) – Establishes storage requirements for unreported sexual assault kits (SAKs) and establishes a temporary moratorium on the destruction of untested SAKs. Establishes deadlines for the submission and testing of SAKs. Extends the special prosecution window for cases tied to DNA identification from one to two years. Modifies specialized training for sexual assault investigators to include victim notification practices. Enumerates rights for sexual assault survivors. Transfers the responsibilities of administering the Joint Legislative Task Force on Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Best Practices to the Office of the Attorney General, and extends it to December 31, 2021.
  • TemporaryProtection Orders (HB 1350) – A limited jurisdiction court must transfer an anti-harassment protection order case to superior court in any of the following four circumstances: (1) the respondent is under eighteen years old; (2) the case involves title or possession of real property; (3) a superior court has exercised or is exercising jurisdiction over a proceeding involving the parties; or (4) the case would interfere with respondent’s care, control, or custody of the respondent’s minor child. In these circumstances, the courts’ jurisdiction is limited to issuing and enforcing a temporary anti-harassment protection order.

Economic Equity Celebrations

  • Affordable Housing and Homelessness Projects (HB 1219) – Authorizes cities and counties who are required to plan or who are planning under the Growth Management Act to use of real estate excise tax revenue to support affordable housing and homelessness projects.
  • Debt Collection (HB 1066) – Makes it a prohibited practice for a collection agency to serve a debtor with a summons and complaint unless the summons and complaint have been filed with the court and bear the case number assigned by the court.
  • Methodology for Establishing Prevailing Rate of Wages (HB 1743) – Provides that prevailing wage rates for residential construction must be established by wage and hour surveys, unless survey information is insufficient. Provides for interim rates pending the establishment of rates based on surveys
  • Wage and Salary Information (HB 1696) – Prohibits an employer from seeking the wage or salary history of an applicant or requiring that the wage or salary history meet certain criteria, with some exceptions. Requires an employer to provide the minimum wage or salary for the position to an applicant upon request after the employer has offered the position to the applicant. Requires that upon request of an employee offered an internal transfer, the employer must provide the wage scale or salary range for the new position.

Although we have passed a number of progressive bills this session there is still work to do in next year’s legislative session. We need to assure that immigrants are fully covered for family planning services by amending the Reproductive Parity Act Creates to allow immigrants who would be eligible for the Take Charge federal waiver program to access funding but cannot access it because of federal restrictions. We failed to pass legislation to fix our state’s upside down tax system – the most regressive in the country. Legislation to prohibit female genital mutilation also failed to pass this session. We will continue to work on legislation to protect victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and discrimination and improve the economic security of all our citizens.  If you are interested in a particular issue for the next legislative session please let us know the issue and your recommendations by emailing wa.state.now.coordinator@gmail.com and wa.state.now.leg.alerts@gmail.com.