Fewer bills remain as Legislature enters its second half of session

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March 18, 2021

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The state Senate passed a key cutoff last week. March 9 was the deadline for the Senate bills to pass the full Senate, with the exception of legislation considered necessary to implement the budget. Fewer bills were introduced this year than we would see in a typical legislative session. As a result, even fewer bills than normal are still alive after the important floor cutoff date.

Following the cutoff date, Senate committees are holding public hearings on bills passed by the House, and House committees are likewise hearing Senate-approved measures. I’m pleased to say that three of my prime-sponsored bills are now in the House after advancing through the Senate, and a fourth is still eligible to advance due to its connection to the budget. Below is a summary of my four bills this session.

Senate Bill 5000 (Hydrogen vehicles)

The Senate in early March voted 49-0 to approve my Senate Bill 5000, which would establish an eight-year statewide pilot project for the reduction of sales tax on purchases of fuel-cell electric vehicles. This bill aims to extend a similar exemption on vehicle sales tax that purchasers of traditional electric vehicles receive. With Douglas County PUD’s March 8th groundbreaking of a renewable hydrogen production facility outside East Wenatchee and the first hydrogen-fueling stations in Washington expected to be operational by 2022, my bill would allow a total of 650 vehicles to receive a 50-percent sales tax exemption in fiscal years 2023 through 2029. It is important for our state to be “technology neutral” in our effort to promote zero-emissions vehicles when it comes to incentive policy. Even though hydrogen vehicles are newer to the market and slightly more expensive due to having not been in mass production nationwide, they have shown tremendous promise given how quickly they refuel and the limited infrastructure required to get the fuel to the station. SB 5000 received a hearing on Monday before the House Finance Committee. Click here to view my testimony and click here to watch testimony by proponents during the hearing. 

Toyota Mirai

The Toyota Mirai is a zero-emissions fuel-cell electric car and only discharges water.

Senate Bill 5147 (Education learning recovery)

My Senate Bill 5147 focuses on learning recovery due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a pilot project to help districts voluntarily reform their school calendars. The bill would help assist districts with “learning stabilization, recovery, and acceleration” in response to struggling academics resulting from less-than-ideal remote learning and significantly reduced in-person instruction. Now is the time, as we prepare to move past this pandemic, to assist our school districts and their students with their growing academic and social challenges resulting from loss of in-building instruction and the less-than-ideal remote learning. We also need to think big about reforming the system and to get serious about exploring better opportunities for student learning in the years ahead. SB 5147 is positioned to advance off the Senate floor if it is brought forward for a vote and is still eligible to advance due to its connection to the budget. 

Sens. Hawkins and Wellman in education committee meeting.

I partnered with Sen. Lisa Wellman, chair of the Senate K-12 education committee, in developing and fine-tuning the language in Senate Bill 5147.

Senate Bill 5406 (Tow-truck operators)

My Senate Bill 5406 would help tow-truck operators gain payment for keeping public roadways clear if called out by the State Patrol or local law enforcement agencies to clear a vehicle due to negligence. Tow-truck operators are small-business owners who are being called on by law enforcement officials to do important work to help keep our roadways clear, but they sometimes get stuck absorbing the costs if drivers or insurance companies don’t pay them. The bill authorizes a registered tow-truck operator, dispatched by law enforcement or another state or local agency, to bring a civil action to recover unpaid vehicle recovery, impound and storage charges from a person who was operating a motor vehicle on a public highway in an illegal or negligent manner. The request for a legislative fix came from Randy Houston, who owns Randy’s Auto Parts and Towing and provides towing services throughout the 12th District. The Senate passed this bill 47-1. Click here to watch my testimony and click here to view the testimony of others during the hearing on March 11 before the House Transportation Committee.

Tow truck on Highway 2

Randy’s Towing helps pull a stranded vehicle out of the Wenatchee River off Highway 2. Senate Bill 5406 would help tow-truck operators gain payment for keeping public roadways clear if called out by law enforcement agencies.

Senate Bill 5158 (Utility wildfire)

Senate Bill 5158 would direct the state Department of Natural Resources to work with the Utility Wildland Fire Prevention Advisory Committee to implement recommendations offered in this report issued in December 2020. According to the proposal, this would be accomplished by Aug. 1 and the group’s work would be maintained and updated on the Department of Natural Resources’ website. During SB 5158’s public hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Feb. 8 (click here to view the hearing), Chelan County PUD General Manager Steve Wright provided key testimony. These recommendations are very important to many of my utilities, especially considering the 12th District’s recent history of devastating wildfires. Click here for a recent Wenatchee World article on a related issue of PUDs and wildfire. It is important to keep the momentum going for this work, finalize the group’s recommendations, and ensure ongoing communications with the Legislature. SB 5158 was passed by the Senate 46-0. Click here to watch the hearing March 12 in the House Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. 

Chelan Complex fire

A hillside burns in the Chelan Complex and First Creek fires near Chelan in 2015.

Listen to my recent local radio interviews 

Each week during the legislative session, I call our local radio stations to participate in live interviews about the latest happenings in the legislative session. If you'd like to hear my most recent interviews, click on these links for KPQKOHO, and KOZI. You can also listen to my interview this week with KPQ's The Agenda.

If you have any questions about my bills or other issues, please contact me anytime.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your 12th District state senator.



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