Legislative Update – Feb. 4, 2015


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We have entered the fourth week of the 2015 legislative session and I am working hard to represent your views here in Olympia. I am focusing on policies that will make our community stronger such as addressing veteran employment, investing in education and making needed reforms to our state’s transportation and mental health systems. On Feb. 20 we will have our first cut-off which is the last day for bills to be heard in committee from the house of origin. I will continue to keep you updated on my priority legislation and issues that affect our district.

It is an honor to serve as your state senator.


Senator Steve O’Ban

28th District


You’re invited to participate in my upcoming telephone town hall

I will be hosting a telephone town hall at 6:00 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26. I encourage all 28th District residents to participate.

The hour-long community conversation is much like an interactive radio program, during which listeners may ask questions or just listen to the conversation about issues that affect their district and state.

On the evening of the telephone town hall, you can call 253.200.3122 to join in the conversation, or you can follow along online by visiting listen.townhallinteractive.com and entering the PIN: 38144.


The time is now to fully fund I-5/JBLM corridor improvements

There is much discussion about a transportation package. We need to continue insisting on key reforms to the Dept. of Transportation to create greater accountability, transparency and improve the way we finance mega-projects. I don’t want taxpayers to fund huge cost overruns, such as the Bertha tunnel project in downtown Seattle. The Governor wants to create a brand new tax on “polluters” by which he means Boeing, the University of Washington, and ultimately you and I, because we use petroleum produced by refineries, a top target of the Governor. I oppose this brand new tax on top job creators, education institutions and people in the state.

If there is a transportation package to repair roads and bridges, and remove chokepoints threatening jobs and the flow of commerce, it must include fixing the worsening congestion along the JBLM/I-5 corridor. I drafted a letter, joined by six other Pierce County senators, sent to Gov. Inslee and House and Senate Transportation Committee chairs urging full funding for this vital corridor. We cited the economic impact of the military base to the region and the vital role the interstate plays in moving goods and people throughout the state.

We should not allow the Legislature to send billions of additional dollars to King County and not address this key stretch of I-5 that doesn’t just impact those living in our community, but impacts the entire region.


Military service members

On Friday, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 5164 updating our state’s laws to allow National Guard men and women to utilize armories for lodging without declaration of a state of emergency. Members of our National Guard may have to travel long distances to participate in drill activities and the cost of paying for their own lodging can be a hardship. This law makes a necessary change to allow guard members to utilize existing facilities for lodging on a temporary basis.

I authored a bill providing a business and occupation tax credit for businesses that hire veterans (SB 5042) – This bill incentivizes businesses in Washington to hire veterans by providing business owners with a business and occupations tax credit, one of the most burdensome business taxes in the state.



I have been working with legislators across the aisle to provide needed changes to our state’s criminal justice system. I sponsored Senate Bill 5564, known as the YEAR Act (Youth Equality and Reintegration Act), which gives eligible youth who have committed a non-violent, non-sexual offense the opportunity to seal their records so they have a chance of finding a job.

This bill will receive a hearing Feb. 5 in the committee I chair, Human Services and Mental Health & Housing.

Sponsored Legislation

I have sponsored numerous bills that address veterans’ issues, small business, reforms to our transportation system and changes in our criminal code. Please see below for information on my sponsored legislation and links to find out more about particular bills.

The list below is not exhaustive. Please click here to see other legislation that I have sponsored.


District Specific

Western State Hospital Funding (SB 5261)Requires the state to permanently fund public safety enhancements to protect employees and the surrounding community from the special issues that arise near Western State Hospital.

Deficit Reimbursement/ Ferries (SB 5307)Increases the amount of funds that may be distributed to Pierce, Skagit and Whatcom counties for a deficit incurred in the operation and maintenance of the ferry system owned and operated by the county.

Mental Health

Competency & Restoration Services (SB 5177)

The intent of this bill is to improve timeliness of mental health evaluations. It encourages DSHS to develop alternative locations and increased access to services for individuals who do not require inpatient hospitalization.

Criminally Insane/ Facilities (SB 5266)Eliminates the expiration of a law that relates to secure facilities for the criminally insane.

Health Care

Concerning communication of mammographic breast density information to patients (SB 5040) – Requires that patients be notified when a physician determines that they have dense breast tissue, a factor that increases their risk of cancer. Also, includes funding request/access to Breast Mobiles.

Law & Justice

Modifying organized retail theft provisions (SB 5037) -This is the “flash-robbery” bill that would stiffen penalties for organized retail theft. Flash robbery is a crime that occurs when a group of individuals uses electronic and internet communication such as Twitter to organize mass thefts from retail stores.

Death Penalty (SB 5039)This bill affirms the authority of the clemency and pardons board to make recommendations to the governor regarding petitions for reprieve to ensure that victims and other stakeholders are heard.

Unlawful Webcam Use (SB 5106) Creates a civil action for unauthorized remote access of a webcam. There are predators who hack personal computers and take photos of individuals in intimate and private settings and actually use those photos to extort money from victims or viciously disclose the photos.

Marijuana Retail Locations (SB 5450) This bill would protect churches and programs directed at youth from a pot shop being sited next to them.


Small Business Assistance (SB 5043)Provides greater small business assistance by modifying the filing threshold for excise taxes.


Protecting Youth

Homeless Youth Prevention (SB 5404)This bill is about concerns of homeless youth prevention and protection. It creates the Office of Homeless Youth Programs within the Dept. of Commerce aimed at coordination of statewide homeless prevention and reduction efforts.


Concerning Washington State Department of Transportation projects (SB 5054) – This bill implements a series of reforms to hold DOT accountable for the tax dollars they spend, giving Washington citizens a streamlined and more productive transportation system.

Highway Construction Project Errors (SB 5053) Requires the reporting of highway construction project errors to bring greater transparency and accountability to this troubled agency.