After a regular 105-day session followed by three 30-day special sessions, the Legislature called it quits for 2017 (so far). These special sessions come as no surprise, as over the past several years the divided Legislature has typically needed special sessions to resolve its business. However, 2017 set a record for the number of days the Legislature was in session.
During the regular session, lawmakers agreed on a bipartisan 2017-19 transportation budget. They reached agreement on the biennial operating budget hours before a June 30th deadline, averting a state government shutdown. Included in that budget package was an education funding plan designed to meet the Supreme Court’s McCleary mandate primarily through a state levy swap. A reduction of the B&O tax rate on manufacturers that was included in the budget deal was subsequently vetoed by Gov. Jay Inslee, instilling further acrimony into an already bitterly divided and opaque budget process. Continue reading 2017 Legislative Session Recap
Washington state driver’s licenses are currently out of compliance with the standards in the federal Real ID Act. SB 5008 solves this issue by creating a two-tier licensing system — a traditional driver’s license and an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL). The requirements to obtain a traditional driver’s licenses will not change, but beginning in July 2018, the Department of Licensing will be required to mark those licenses as not complaint for federal purposes. Once the federal government begins enforcing Real ID, Washington residents will not be able to use a traditional license to fly or enter a federal facility like a military base. Instead, Washingtonians will need to use an EDL or other form of federally accepted identification.
The Legislature updated the distracted driving laws this session. SB 5289 makes it illegal to hold a personal electronic device in either hand, watch a video, or use a hand or finger to compose, send, read, view, access, browse, transmit, save, or retrieve email, text messages, instant messages, photographs, or other electronic data. The bill does allow the minimal use of a finger to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function on the device. Gov. Inslee signed the bill on May 16 but vetoed the section delaying implementation of the bill. As a result, the bill will take effect this July.