Washington Legislators Act On Wide Variety Of Bills

Feb 18, 2020

Rep. Jenny Graham spoke in favor of a bill to double penalties for driving through school zones while operating phones and other electronic devices.
Credit TVW

On Tuesday, for a second day in a row, Washington legislators continued to approve or deny a pile of bills.

The House voted today to double the penalties for drivers stopped for using phones and other electronic devices while driving through school zones.

The vote was unanimous.

Several speakers said the higher fees should serve as an increased incentive for drivers to pay attention in areas where children are.

Rep. Jenny Graham [R-Spokane] wants to make sure the signage where the penalties apply is visible and understandable to drivers.

“One of the things I’ve seen that’s been the most beneficial are the speed limit signs that flash, because another problem that’s created confusion is when one side will say that it’s 20 miles an hour and another side will say that it’s 20 miles an hour in certain times of the day," Graham said.

The fines collected from the increased penalties would be directed to projects in cities that improve safety in school and school bus loading and unloading areas.

The bill now moves to the Senate.

The Washington Senate approved a bill that aims to make it easier for prospective students to apply for the state’s colleges and universities.

The bill requires all higher ed institutions to offer an identical online application. The sponsor, Rep. Marko Liias [D-Lynnwood], says students would only have to fill out one application, rather than one for every institution to which they apply.

“We know from the statistics that the common application, when institutions join it, results in a 12% increase in applications and enrollments. This will create an important pathway to opportunity for more of our students," Liias said.

The bill would go into effect for applications for the 2022-23 school year. It also allows colleges to keep their existing application processes, to give students a second choice.

The Senate vote was unanimous. The bill now goes to the House.

The House voted to require that beef sold in Washington be labeled with the country where it was processed. The bill’s lead sponsor is Rep. Joel Kretz [R-Wauconda].

“We’ve got a situation now where beef can come in from all over the world and if it is processed or packaged here, it doesn’t have to be raised here, born here, slaughtered here, if it’s packaged in the United States, it is stamped USDA. I think it’s mislabeling," Kretz said. "This will recognize the quality of Washington beef as some of the finest in the world. It’s just a truth-in-labeling bill. I think consumers are greatly in support of this.”

Kretz says the bill was developed by two unlikely allies, the cattle industry and the Spokane environmental group The Lands Council. He says predicts the bill would help both the cattle industry and consumers. The House approved it 92-to-six. The Senate will take it up next.