Politics Blog

Drones, oil safety, transportation bills pass first house during busy week in Olympia

It’s been a busy week or so in Olympia as lawmakers are busy pushing bills through to the other house before March 11, the deadline to consider proposals in their house of origin.

Here are a few of the many things passed in the House:


House Bill 1449

, “Oil Transportation Safety Act” 60-38; Requested by Gov. Jay Inslee, based on recommendations from the Department of Ecology’s oil transportation study.

It would require rail shippers to show they have enough money to cover the worst-case scenario of an oil spill from one of their shipments, require advanced notice of oil transfers, increase a 4-cent-per-barrel tax to 10 cents and levy it not only on marine shippers, but also on rail and pipeline crude shipments. The bill also would evaluate tug escort requirements for tankers traveling on the Columbia River and near Grays Harbor.

Bellingham City Council member Michael Lilliquist was quoted in a press release about the bill passage that was sent out by the House Democrats:

“Given the huge rise in train traffic, it is only a matter of time before a major oil spill occurs in our state,” Lilliquist said. “We need to be prepared, and we should not have to guess about what is being shipped through the heart of our communities. Our fire crews and emergency responders need to know, to be ready if there is a derailment.”


HB 1093

, Concerning drones, 94-3-1; Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon.

The bill would make it illegal for hobbyists (the only type of use not already regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration) to use their drones to “collect personal information” on private property without someone’s consent, a.k.a. no taking pictures/video/audio of someone without permission. The bill doesn’t affect drones that are permitted by the FAA.


HB 1085

, Requires lobbyists to file reports electronically, 85-13; Sponsored by Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver.

Especially interesting for reporters and other citizens who focus on following the money: Lobbyists would need to file their reports electronically, and the Public Disclosure Commission would need to go through what PDC staff members say is a much-needed update to accommodate the files.

Important note: The bill would be void if the Legislature doesn’t provide funding for the upgrade. Based on a study done back in 2007, when the PDC requested an upgrade, that could mean finding $583,747 for the 2015-2017 biennium.

Meanwhile, a few of the many bills the Senate has passed:

•  A $15 billion transportation package, including a gas tax increase of 11.7 cents over three years. The package’s revenue bill,


, passed 27-22 Monday, March 2.

The proposal includes funding for a variety of projects and infrastructure improvements. It also would redirect funding from transit investments to roads and highways if the state implements a clean fuels standard or sets carbon reduction requirements.


SB 5269

, “Joel’s Law,” 46-3; Sponsored by Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place.

Allows family members, guardians or conservators to petition for a court review of a mental health professional’s decision not to hold that person for evaluation and treatment or take action within two days of being asked to investigate that person’s mental health. The bill is named for Joel Reuter, a mentally-ill man who was shot and killed by Seattle police in July 2013.


Senate Bill 5093

, Creates a nuclear education program, 44-5; Sponsored by Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick.

The program would provide grants to get “nuclear ambassadors” to give classroom presentations about nuclear science to students in eighth through 12th grades, and provide grants to science teachers to go to workshops about nuclear experiments and demonstrations they can use in their classrooms.