Updates on my 2014 bill proposals

Floor speechI’ve proposed a sizeable number of bills this year because there is a lot that needs to be accomplished in state government. From increasing access to health care to protecting our state’s most vulnerable, I’ve got several proposals on which to keep you posted.

CREATING JOBS

Senate Bill 6000 – Property tax exemption for nonprofit job-training and placement organizations.

When a nonprofit organization that is already in the job-providing business can save some of its limited funding resources by not having to pay property tax, it would potentially be free to grow by adding more staff or expanding. And when it has more employees or more office space, it can provide more resources and services to those individuals who are seeking gainful employment. This really is a win-win scenario. Awaiting approval by the Senate Committee on Trade & Economic Development.

Senate Bill 6318 – Business and occupations tax relief.

The B&O tax is imposed on the gross receipts of businesses in Washington. Businesses are not required to file returns if the value of products, gross proceeds of sales or gross business income is less than $28,000 per year. However, most small and startup businesses easily hit that figure in their gross receipts during the first year of operation, and are subjected to the crippling B&O penalty even though they finish the year with a net loss. This bill would raise that threshold to $50,000. Awaiting approval by the Senate Committee on Trade & Economic Development.

HEALTH CARE

Senate Bill 6122 – Concerning long-term planning for developmental disabilities services.

This bill enacts planning measures and strategies that provide for future long-term service and support needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health Care today.

Senate Bill 6022 – Protecting state hospital workers.

This bill would increase the penalty for assaulting an employee, contractor, intern, or volunteer of a state hospital who was performing his or her official duties to a third-degree crime. Approved by the Senate Committee on Human Services & Corrections.

FOSTER KIDS

Senate Bill 6126 – Concerning representation of children in dependency matters.

Under SB 6126, children languishing in the foster care system would have their own advocate to accelerate their cases and more quickly return them to their families or place them with a new, adoptive family. Awaiting approval by the Senate Committee on Human Services & Corrections.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Senate Bill 6023 – Searches by school resource officers.

This bill would restore to a school resource (police) officer the right that teachers and even the school janitor currently have to search a student’s locker under reasonable suspicion. Approved by the Senate Committee on Law and Justice.

Senate Bill 6024 – Modifying organized retail theft provisions.

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. Approved by the Senate Committee on Law & Justice, now awaiting a vote of the full Senate.

Senate Bill 6025 – Creating a sentence enhancement for body armor.

This bill would enhance the penalty for someone convicted of a crime if he or she (or an accomplice) wore body armor during the commission of the crime. Approved by the Senate Committee on Law & Justice, now awaiting a vote of the full Senate

MILITARY AND VETERANS

Senate Bill 5969 – Providing for awarding academic credit for military training.

This bill would help military members and veterans get college credit for the training they received during their service. Approved by the Senate Committee on Higher Education, now awaiting a vote of the full Senate.

Senate Bill 5970 – Evaluating military training and experience toward meeting licensing requirements.

This is another bill to grant civilian credit to military members and veterans for skills and abilities they developed while in the service. Approved by the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor, now awaiting a vote of the full Senate.

Senate Bill 6049 – Providing a business and occupation tax credit for businesses that hire veterans.

This bill would help incentivize businesses in Washington to hire veterans by providing those business owners with a business and occupations tax credit, one of the most burdensome business taxes in the state. Had a public hearing yesterday in the Senate Committee on Ways & Means.

Senate Bill 6084 – Property tax exemptions for service-connected disabled veterans and senior citizens.

SB 6084 would allow a senior citizen or service-connected disabled veteran to qualify for a property tax exemption if they are near the poverty line and meet other benchmarks as well. Had a public hearing yesterday in the Senate Committee on Ways & Means.

WOMEN’S HEALTH

Senate Bill 6050 – Concerning communication of mammographic breast density information to patients.

SB 6050 would require that patients be notified when a physician determines that they have dense breast tissue, a factor that increases their risk of cancer. Had a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health Care today.

TRANSPORTATION

Senate Bill 6051 – Concerning Washington state department of transportation projects.

SB 6051 would require WSDOT to submit a report to the Legislature detailing design errors on highway construction projects that cost taxpayers more than a half-million dollars. WSDOT would have to explain what went wrong, how they plan to correct the error, what department was responsible and how they are going to make sure the error never happens again.

DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE

Senate Bill 6085 Concerning prior offenses within fifteen years for driving under the influence or physical control of a vehicle violations.

This bill increases the chances that a person caught driving under the influence would be more likely to receive a stiffer penalty. Approved by the Senate Committee on Law & Justice.