Olympia briefly

Clean fuel

OLYMPIA – People will be asked to use a lot less gasoline and to convert to alternative clean fuels in the next 15 years if a proposal before the Legislature becomes law.

Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1110 passed 54-44 in the House despite bipartisan opposition. The measure would direct the Department of Ecology to adopt a clean fuels program with the goal of limiting greenhouse gas emissions per unit of fuel to 20 percent of 2017 levels by the year 2035.

Clean fuel advocates believe the policy could reduce emissions and pollution and give incentives for the innovation and adoption of new clean and renewable fuels. Opponents worry the proposed law would increase energy costs for consumers and businesses.

Timber key

OLYMPIA – State legislators are organizing bipartisan support for the timber industry amid the realization that forestry draws carbon from the atmosphere and could help the state meet its carbon reduction goals.

House Bill 2528 and Senate Bill 6355 intend to support the growth of forestry and promote the production and use of timber products in the state.

Trees use carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as part of the photosynthesis and growth process. Some studies suggest that wood is about 50% carbon by mass.

Jason Spadaro, president of SDS Lumber, said this legislation would recognize the forestry and timber industry as part of the solution to climate change. Spadaro said this bill would promote rural economic development and the creation of jobs as well as incentivize the management of forests and therefore reduce wildfire risk.

Mentally ill

OLYMPIA – People unable to care for themselves due to mental illnesses could be subject to receiving treatment, even without their consent, if state legislators pass a law to establish executorships for people who are incapacitated. “Our mental health and addiction system of care is failing, in my view, the most vulnerable,” said the proposed bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County. If passed, Senate Bill 6109 would initiate a four-year pilot program in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, effective Jan. 1, 2021. Each county would be responsible for treating 10 people during the pilot. The bill places people who are incapable of caring for themselves because of a mental health disorder in an executorship and requires that the counties provide services, such as housing and treatment.

Grow pot

OLYMPIA – People may be allowed to grow up to six of their own cannabis plants and up to 15 plants per household if the Legislature passes House Bill 1131 or its companion, Senate Bill 5155.

Under current law, people can obtain prescriptions for medical marijuana to grow up to 15 plants at home. But the proposed bills would extend similar home-grow ability to recreational users. Those opposed said it would reduce tax revenue for the state and potentially increase crime with people trying to steal the home-grown crop or add it to the black market. Others were worried about lack of safety regulations and easier youth access.

Death penalty

OLYMPIA – The death penalty would no longer be a sentencing option in Washington state if lawmakers enact a bill passed by the Senate. Senate Bill 5339 has bipartisan support to eliminate the death penalty — a punishment the Supreme Court ruled as unconstituional in 2018. Gov. Jay Inslee also put a moratorium on it in 2014. Instead of a death sentence, “all persons convicted of aggravated first-degree murder must be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release or parole,” according to the Senate Bill report.

Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, the primary sponsor, said the death penalty, “is a punishment that simply does not work effectively. It’s not economically efficient, it’s not applied equitably across rural and urban, and other jurisdictions, and there’s a great deal of subjectivity and discretion in a policy that does not fit well.”

-Olympia briefly provided by WNPA interns