OLYMPIA… Instead of accepting a last-minute request by Sen. Steve O’Ban to vote on a bill that could slow a wave of skilled nursing facility closures, majority Democrats used the final minutes before the Senate’s “floor cutoff” Wednesday afternoon to consider restoring voting rights to felons who have yet to fully pay their debt to society.
O’Ban, R-Pierce County, motioned for the rarely used “ninth order,” a floor procedure to that would have delayed the felon-voting proposal, Senate Bill 6228, from receiving a full Senate vote. During his motion, O’Ban requested that the skilled-nursing measure, Senate Bill 6515, be brought directly to a vote first.
The fact that 20 skilled nursing facilities have closed across Washington in just three years, said O’Ban, should concern lawmakers far more than changing the law that requires felons to complete restitution and community-custody obligations after their release from confinement before their voting rights can be restored. In arguing for his motion, he called SB 6515 “a far more pressing and critical bill that we should be considering before we finish our business today.”
O’Ban told Senate colleagues there are a couple of bills that could offset a $116 million shortfall in reimbursements that is directly tied to the string of nursing-facility shutdowns.
“We should not finish our business today until we meet the needs of our seniors and others who need those facilities so desperately,” O’Ban said.
Senate Democrats ended up setting the felon-voting bill aside and adjourned without any consideration of the nursing-facility bill, meaning that legislation is considered “dead” for the year.