2021 Legislative Session | KNKX

2021 Legislative Session

Pedestrians walk Tuesday, April 27, 2021, near the Capitol in Olympia.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

There are new laws about police reform and accountability in Washington. The bills that have now been signed by Gov. Jay Inslee grew out of protests for racial justice last summer that followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which happened one year ago Tuesday.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee pauses while signing a bill into law on May 12, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee caused some controversy while signing environmental bills into law on Monday. He vetoed portions of some of these bills, drawing criticism and talk of legal action from lawmakers. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins talked about that and more with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick. 

Inslee signs ambitious environmental protection laws

May 17, 2021
Gov. Jay Inslee signs the HEAL Act at the Duwamish Tribe's Longhouse and Cultural Center on Monday.
Office of Gov. Jay Inslee

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee signed a series of bills Monday designed to strengthen the environment in Washington state.

Open carry of weapons now prohibited at WA rallies, Capitol

May 12, 2021
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks Wednesday, May 12, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., before signing a bill into law that prohibits openly carrying guns and other weapons at the state Capitol and protests statewide.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Openly carrying guns and other weapons is now prohibited at the Washington state Capitol and public protests statewide under a measure signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Jay Inslee.

New law makes WA agricultural workers eligible for overtime pay

May 11, 2021
Orchard worker Francisco Hernandez reaches to pull honeycrisp apples off a tree during a thinning of the trees at an orchard in Yakima in June 2020.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press file

Agricultural workers in Washington state would become eligible for overtime pay under a bill signed Tuesday by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee.

A student attaches a note to the Resilience Project board at a Utah school. The purpose of the project is to let students know that it is OK to struggle, and they're not alone.
Rick Bowmer / The Associated Press file

The COVID-19 pandemic took students out of school for most of the last year – away from friends and activities, and away from resources that can connect them to help when they’re struggling with a behavioral health concern.

A new law drafted by teens aims to change that.

Daffodils bloom outside the Legislative Building on April 21, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

With the legislative session now over, Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins talked with KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about what's next for some of the key legislation that was passed.

WA Legislature approves ban on open carry at Capitol

Apr 20, 2021
An attendee at a gun-rights rally open carries a gun next to a bumper sticker that reads "I'm a Gun Owner & I Vote," Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, at the Capitol in Olympia.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

People would be prohibited from openly carrying guns and other weapons at the Capitol and surrounding grounds and at or near permitted public demonstrations across the state under a measure approved Tuesday by the Washington Legislature.

Washington State Patrol vehicles lineup at graduation on Dec. 13, 2018.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

The Washington Legislature on Tuesday approved a measure requiring police to intervene if they see a fellow officer using, or attempting to use, excessive force.

The dome of the Legislative Building is shown next to cherry blossoms, Monday, April 6, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

State lawmakers are in the final week of their legislative session, and there is still a lot to address: budget, capital gains, climate issues, drug possession laws and more.

People enjoy a sunny day outside the Washington state Capitol.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

  

Changes are happening on the COVID front in Washington this week. Three counties are moving back to Phase 2 of the state's reopening plan. That announcement comes as all Washingtonians age 16 and older are about to become eligible for the COVID vaccine.

Native American advocate Carl Moore sits next to Native American imagery painted along a walkway which leads from the Bountiful High School parking lot up to the football field Tuesday, July 28, 2020, in Bountiful, Utah.
Rick Bowmer / The Associated Press

The Washington Legislature has approved a measure to ban the use of Native American names, symbols and images as school mascots, logos and team names at most public schools in Washington.

A plastic recycling company worker sorts out plastic bottles collected for processing at Tokyo Petbottle Recycle Co. in Tokyo in June 2019.
Koji Sasahara / The Associated Press file

It looks increasingly likely that Washington will ban plastic foam, reduce plastic waste and strengthen recycling markets. A bill to that effect is nearly through the Legislature.

State Rep. Tarra Simmons, D-Bremerton, became a lawyer after being incarcerated. She sponsored legislation to restore voting rights to people who have been released from prison after committing felonies, even if they're still on parole.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday signed a bill automatically restoring voting rights to people who have been released from prison after committing felonies, even if they are still on parole — a measure sponsored by a lawmaker who was herself formerly incarcerated.

Billy Frank Jr. poses at Frank's Landing on the Nisqually River near Olympia on June 29, 2012.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

A measure to honor the late Billy Frank Jr. with a statue at the U.S. Capitol cleared the Legislature Monday.

In this April 15, 2020, photo a protester holds a sign she looks out from the sunroof of a car during a protest at the Northwest Detention Center a facility privately operated on behalf of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, in Tacoma.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

The Washington state Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that bans private, for-profit prison companies that contract with local, state and federal agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, from operating in the state. 

 

State Rep. Tarra Simmons, D-Bremerton, became a lawyer after being incarcerated. She sponsored legislation to restore voting rights to people who have been released from prison after committing felonies, even if they're still on parole.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

Washington state lawmakers have voted to automatically restore voting rights to people who have been released from prison after committing felonies, even if they’re still on parole.

Gov. Jay Inslee speaks with kindergartners in Chelsea Singh's class during a visit to Firgrove Elementary School in Puyallup on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021.
Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times via AP

As the state prepares to move into Phase 3 of the pandemic reopening plan next week, Gov. Jay Inslee has signed an emergency proclamation requiring all school districts to provide in-person learning options by next month. This is happening as lawmakers continue the legislative session, mostly remotely.

The halls inside Bothell High School stand empty Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Bothell.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press file

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a measure that would waive some graduation requirements for individual students during a state of emergency, like the current coronavirus pandemic.

Bill to ban Native American mascots at WA schools advances in Legislature

Feb 24, 2021
Native American advocate Carl Moore sits next to Native American imagery painted along a walkway which leads from the Bountiful High School parking lot up to the football field Tuesday, July 28, 2020, in Bountiful, Utah.
Rick Bowmer / The Associated Press file

The use of Native American names, symbols and images would be banned from being used as school mascots, logos and team names at most public schools in Washington under a bill passed Tuesday by the state House of Representatives.

Northwest Detention Center
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

The Washington House of Representatives voted Tuesday to ban for-profit, private detention facilities in the state, in a move aimed at shutting down the Northwest immigration detention center in Tacoma.

Police on motorcycles escort a protest march in Tacoma on June 1, 2020, against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

The Washington state Senate on Tuesday approved a measure requiring police to intervene if they see a fellow officer using excessive force — one of several measures in the Legislature prompted by the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd and ensuing Black Lives Matter protests last year.

Sodas and other beverages fill a display cooler in a convenience store in Kent in October 2018.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press file

A tax proposal under debate by Washington state lawmakers could raise the price of soda, juice and sweetened coffee drinks.

Capitol dome in Olympia in January 2020.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This is the first week that every region in Washington is in Phase 2 of the state's COVID recovery plan. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins joined KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick live Tuesday morning to talk about the latest in the state's pandemic response as well as what's happening in the Legislature this week.

courtesy of TVW

It can be difficult for anyone who’s been incarcerated to readjust to life after getting out. A bill working its way through the Legislature would allow some young people in juvenile rehabilitation to serve part of their sentences in the community with the aim of facilitating a better transition.

Washington Legislature approves $2.2 billion in COVID relief

Feb 10, 2021
The Legislative Building is shown partially shrouded in fog, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

A bill that allocates $2.2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding in areas ranging from vaccine administration to schools resuming in-person learning was approved by the Washington Legislature Wednesday and now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.

Democratic Rep. Laurie Dolan from Olympia has sponsored a bill to stabilize school district budgets.
screenshot courtesy of TVW

Public school enrollment is down almost 4 percent statewide compared with last year. Many families decided not to enroll their kindergartners because of remote learning, and others have switched to private schools or home schooling.

Because state education funding is calculated based on the number of students, many districts are now facing budget deficits. State lawmakers are considering a bill to send more money to school districts that have seen a drop in enrollment during the pandemic.

Inslee signs bill to help unemployed workers, struggling businesses

Feb 8, 2021
Gov. Jay Inslee signs the first bill to become law during the 2021 legislative session on Monday. The measure increases the minimum weekly benefit for unemployed workers during the coronavirus pandemic and prevents a dramatic increase in businesses’ unemp
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

A bill that increases the minimum weekly benefit for unemployed workers during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and prevents a dramatic increase in unemployment taxes paid by businesses was signed into law Monday by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Bill seeks to ban Native American mascots in WA schools

Feb 5, 2021
The Banks High School mascot is visible on the side of the football stands at the school in Banks, Ore., Thursday, March 23, 2017.
Gillian Flaccus / The Associated Press file

Ivy Pete is a student at North Central High School in Spokane and a member of the Pyramid Lake-Paiute Tribe of northern Nevada.

Pete, 16 and a junior, is working to pass a bill to ban Native American mascots from public schools in Washington. She says such mascots do not actually honor individual tribes. Rather, they dehumanize Native Americans, erase the history of genocide and parody what indigenous people look like, Pete said this week.

Travis / Flickr

School district leaders, the statewide teachers union and other groups are urging lawmakers to address housing affordability for school employees.

Right now, state law allows school districts with fewer than 2,000 students to build teacher cottages and other employee housing. Sen. Jesse Salomon, a Democrat whose district includes Shoreline, Edmonds and northwest Seattle, has sponsored a bill that would expand that to all school districts. It advanced out of the Senate Committee on Early Learning and K-12 Education on Wednesday.

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