A busy week of voting as Senate passes halfway point of 2017 session

Senate portrait header

March 2, 2017

with floor leader
As majority assistant floor leader I work with the floor leader, Sen. Joe Fain of Auburn, to "direct traffic" when we're in the Senate chamber voting on bills. Yesterday we passed 55 bills during roughly 11 hours on the Senate floor -- that's a lot of traffic!

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Today is day 53 of our 105-day regular session, meaning we have officially moved into the second half. It also is the sixth of the dozen days set aside on our calendar for the full Senate to debate and vote on legislation sent forward by the Senate committees. We have worked well into the evening each day this week and I expect more long hours as we work to move major policy bills ahead before the March 8 deadline.

Four of my five prime-sponsored bills have already received the Senate’s approval, and I am working to see that the remaining bill also advances.

I appreciate the many messages that have come in to my office and try to answer each personally. We have many pieces of legislation to consider by the end of next Wednesday, and if you have questions or comments about them please share them with me and my office.

Senate unanimously supports forest-health legislation

The House of Representatives is the next stop for my legislation to assess and treat the health of hundreds of thousands of acres of Washington forests. Senate Bill 5546 won unanimous support from the full Senate yesterday.

The bill’s success so far is a tribute to the many people back home in north central Washington who are determined to reduce our risk of “megafires.” I also appreciate how my fellow senators have engaged with this issue and the many stakeholder groups who have joined with us in support of this bill. Receiving strong bipartisan support is encouraging and will be noticed by members of the House when they consider SB 5546.

List of approved bills reflects Senate priorities

A look at the bills passed this week shows how pieces of the Senate’s agenda are falling into place. Here are a few examples.

  • Economic development: Senate Bill 5239 is the response to the Supreme Court’s recent Hirst decision, which would greatly increase the cost of installing a residential well needed to obtain a building permit. This legislation was revised by two committees and again on the floor of the Senate before prevailing in a 28-21 vote Tuesday evening. The fact that changes were made at each stop reflect the complexity of the issue and the adverse impacts of the Hirst ruling.

  • Upgrading driver’s licenses: Beginning in 2018, the federal Transportation Security Administration will no longer allow people to use a standard Washington driver’s license as identification for domestic travel. This stems from the passage of the federal REAL ID rules following Sept. 11, 2001. Passports and our state’s enhanced driver’s license comply with the REAL ID standards, but obtaining them can be time-consuming and costly. Senate Bill 5008, which would reduce the cost of obtaining an enhanced driver’s license and was approved by the Senate Tuesday evening with a 45-4 vote. The REAL ID topic was featured in my latest on-air visit with Wenatchee’s KOHO radio; click here to listen to the interview.

  • Public safety: Senate Bill 5037 would allow a fourth DUI arrest to be charged as a felony, meaning time in prison instead of a county jail. Washington has the weakest felony-DUI law in the country, requiring four previous misdemeanor convictions before the fifth offense can be charged as a felony. Oregon and Idaho allow felony charges on the third offense. The Senate has approved this change six times, including this year. The full House has never taken a vote on it.

Family Day
Because the Legislature was in session on the recent Presidents Day holiday, the day was also designated "Family Day" -- which gave my sons Tyler and Luke (right) an opportunity to spend some time with me at my desk on the Senate floor.

Senate endorses two-year car tabs,
transportation planning for Okanogan County

As a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, I decided to sponsor two transportation-related bills this year: one related to two-year vehicle registrations and the other to allow transportation planning in Okanogan County.

In Oregon, vehicle registrations are for two years – and four years for new vehicles. Idaho allows vehicles to be registered for one or two years. Our state doesn’t allow anything but single-year registrations. My Senate Bill 5508, passed unanimously by the Senate on Wednesday, would offer vehicle and boat owners the option of purchasing a one-year or a two-year registration. For many busy people, my proposed change would be more convenient – one less yearly task! The bill will be considered next by the House Transportation Committee.

Regional Transportation Planning Organizations (RTPOs) exist primarily to prepare regional transportation plans and to coordinate planning efforts within counties. In 2013, Okanogan County found itself without an RTPO when Chelan and Douglas counties focused on an RTPO together; Okanogan is one of three counties not involved in such an organization, but that would change under my Senate Bill 5649, which would allow Okanogan County to form its own RTPO. The bill, which came to me at the request of the Okanogan County Council of Governments, was approved unanimously by the Senate earlier this week and now heads to the House Transportation Committee for further consideration.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you!

It is my great privilege to serve as your state senator. If you have any questions or comments, please contact my office anytime using the information below. If you are planning a trip to Olympia and would like to visit the Capitol Building, I would be happy to connect with you or your group when you are here.

I encourage you to share this newsletter with friends and family; they may subscribe using the information below my contact information. Thank you for allowing me to represent you in Olympia!



Brad Hawkins

State Senator Brad Hawkins
12th Legislative District
E-mail: brad.hawkins@leg.wa.gov 

Website: senatorbradhawkins.org

107 Newhouse Building - P.O. Box 40412 | Olympia, WA 98504-0412
(360) 786-7622 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000