Local lawmakers see several bills pass through statehouse as legislative session ends


Washington State’s 2023 Legislative Session has come to an end as several bills from local lawmakers will be signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee in the coming weeks.

The session adjourned during the late hours of April 23. Lawmakers representing North Clark County saw a number of successes, with several bills already receiving Inslee’s signature.

Abbarno’s ‘Zack’s Law’ passes unanimously

State Rep. Peter Abbarno’s legislation designed to raise awareness about cold-water shock deaths got unanimous support as it made its way through the Legislature this year.

House Bill 1004, also known as “Zack’s Law,” is nicknamed after 18-year-old Zachary Lee Rager, who was an experienced swimmer. Rager drowned in the Chehalis River after he jumped from a Willapa Hills Trail railroad trestle bridge. He experienced cold water shock, a physical response to the sudden immersion in cold water that includes increased heart rate, faster breathing and potentially uncontrolled gasping and movement.

Zack’s Law aims to prevent cold water shock drownings by requiring state government agencies and local governments to erect signs warning of drowning hazards when they replace or erect signs near dangerous water hazards.

The signs will be erected at the same time upgrades are made to bridges and other water-adjacent infrastructure, so there will not be a significant cost to taxpayers, according to a Washington State House Republicans news release.

The bill also creates a mechanism for the public to donate funds to the state for the specific purpose of erecting signs in locations known to attract people to what could be hazardous waterways.

Both Legislative chambers unanimously passed the bill. Inslee signed HB 1004 on April 13.

18th District legislators’ bills approved

The lawmakers representing central Clark County, including Battle Ground, saw a handful of bills receive approval this year.

State Rep. Greg Cheney saw his first bill make it to Inslee’s desk. House Bill 1797 would allow appraisers to evaluate real estate for financial institutions without doing a full appraisal.

Cheney, R-Battle Ground, previously said the bill would expand services appraisers can offer clients and would make it easier for the industry to get evaluations. An evaluation can currently be done by a number of different individuals, but not appraisers.

HB 1797 passed both chambers unanimously and was placed on Inslee’s desk on April 19.

Cheney’s seatmate in the House’s 18th District also saw her first bill pass the Legislature.

State Rep. Stephanie McClintock’s House Bill 1301 would require the Department of Licensing to review and analyze one-tenth of the professional licenses it regulates each year. It would also require the department to submit an annual report to the Legislature, which includes recommendations on if those reviewed licenses should be terminated, continued or modified.

The review process is intended to identify ways to make licensing more efficient, McClintock, R-Vancouver, stated in a Washington State House Republicans release.

House Bill 1301 passed both chambers unanimously and was delivered to the governor on April 18.

Cheney and McClintock’s counterpart in the state Senate saw bills related to cannabis business and Medicaid fraud make their way out of the Legislature.

State Sen. Ann Rivers’ Senate Bill 5069 would allow Washington’s governor to enter into agreements with other states regarding commerce in cannabis across state lines. The legislation anticipates the potential federal legalization of cannabis.

The bill passed the House, 71-26, on April 12 and passed the Senate, 38-8, on April 14. It was placed on Inslee’s desk on April 20.

Senate Bill 5163 deals with fraud complaints against Medicaid-reimbursed care providers. Rivers said a fraud complaint law dating back to 2012 allowed both the state attorney general and private citizens to file complaints against providers over suspected fraud.

Rivers said the bill “sends a clear message” to providers who would take health care dollars away from patient care.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously on Feb. 27 and passed the House, 95-3, on April 5. Inslee signed it into law April 14.

East Clark County representatives see legislative success

State Rep. Kevin Waters, R-Stevenson, had a number of bills make it through his first year in the Legislature.

House Bill 1772 would make it illegal in Washington to manufacture, import, offer or sell a consumable product that contains cannabis or any form of THC in combination with beer, wine, spirits, or any other type of liquor in the same product, a Washington State House Republicans release stated.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously on April 12 and was delivered to the governor on April 19.

Waters’ House Bill 1731 also passed the Legislature. If signed into law, the bill would allow short-term rental operators to offer complimentary wine to guests.

The bill creates an annual $75 permit issued by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board for individuals who rent properties through Airbnb. Waters said many rental operators already offer wine to guests, unintentionally breaking the law.

Currently, bed-and-breakfast facilities in Washington can give guests wine through a similar $75 permit. There would be around 300 operators eligible for the permit each year and the fees collected would go to the state’s liquor revolving fund.

House Bill 1731 passed the Senate, 46-1, on April 6, and the House in a concurrence vote, 86-10, on April 17. It was put on Inslee’s desk April 20.

Waters’ House Bill 1730 will allow workers as young as 18 years old to take on jobs as a dishwasher, cook, chef, sanitation specialist or other kitchen staff, lowering the age from 21.

The bill prohibits workers between the ages of 18 and 21 from working in the bar, lounge or dining area of a business. Those workers can’t serve food, drinks, or otherwise interact with patrons, and must have a supervisor over 21 at all times, among other restrictions.

The bill passed the Senate, 44-4, on April 7. Inslee signed the bill on April 20, but vetoed an emergency clause which would have made it effective immediately.

Waters’ seatmate, state Rep. Paul Harris, also saw legislation pass out of the statehouse.

House Bill 1112 would allow judges to impose criminal penalties for negligent driving cases where a vulnerable victim dies. The bill also creates the offense of negligent driving with a vulnerable victim in the first degree as a gross misdemeanor.

Harris said the bill allows for judges to evaluate offenses on a case-by-case basis.

Under current law, a negligent driving charge carries a $250 fine. With the new legislation, the offense would be punishable by up to nearly a year in jail, a minimum $1,000 fine and a 90-day suspension of driving privileges.

HB 1112 passed both legislative chambers unanimously and was put on Inslee’s desk on April 19.

Harris’ House Bill 1073 passed unanimously through the Legislature as well. It was signed by Inslee on April 20.

The bill does several things like extend the expiration of a medical assistant-certified interim permit to the issuance of a medical assistant-certified certification, a Washington State House Republicans release stated.

The bill will allow someone who has applied for a medical assistant-phlebotomist credential and has completed a training program to work under the level of supervision required for the training up to 180 days after filing their application.

Another part of HB 1073 would allow a medical assistant-certified person to establish intravenous lines under the supervision of a health care practitioner if certain minimum standards are met, the release stated. It would also authorize a medical assistant-registered to prepare patients for and assist with examinations, procedures, treatments, and minor office surgeries that use minimal sedation.