OLYMPIA – The Washington Legislature began its 60-day session Monday with opening ceremonies and remarks from Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins on priorities from the House Democratic Caucus.
House committees met in the afternoon for a work session to review the governor’s proposed 2022 supplemental operating and transportation budgets. Also in the afternoon, committees met for hearings on HB 1617, aligning state and school holidays, which includes ensuring Juneteenth is recognized in Washington schools and HB 1601, making permanent the pilot program which provide assistance to homeless and foster-care college students that was expanded last year.
Today (Tuesday), Gov. Jay Inslee will deliver his State of the State address to the lawmakers. Also, a public hearing will be held on HB 1723 which focuses on increasing access to the internet for Washington communities and the House Environment and Energy Committee will hear testimony on HB 1663, which seeks to reduce methane emissions from landfills.
Additionally, the House Public Safety Committee will hold public hearings on three police reform bills offered by Democrats, including HB 1719, which clarifies that less lethal alternatives are not included in the legislature’s previous ban of .50-caliber firearms; HB 1735, which provides clarity for law enforcement use of force to the extent necessary and ensures that peace officers are able to conduct community caretaking functions and assist when needed for mental health calls; and HB 1726 to explicitly allow for the use of force to the extent necessary under certain circumstances, including violent offenses or when reasonable suspicion exists that a person has committed a violent offense.
Most of the session will take place remotely, unless the COVID-19 case count drops. That means lawmakers will vote form home, public testimony on bills will occur via Zoom, and committee meetings will be held virtually.