Proposed Washington apple license plate. (Washington Apple Commission)

Proposed Washington apple license plate. (Washington Apple Commission)

Lawmakers aim to act on guns and pot, taxes and apples

There’s a wide range of subjects they hope to address when the 2020 session begins next month.

OLYMPIA — A ban on assault weapons.

A property tax cut.

A chance to bet more in those pick-a-square football pools.

And legal protections for lemonade stands.

Those are among policy changes state lawmakers plan to pursue when they convene their 2020 session on Jan. 13.

Some ideas are spelled out in the 102 bills pre-filed for introduction as of Friday. Other ideas are getting aired in news conferences and press releases.

Not every proposed piece of legislation will get a vote let alone a hearing. They all are fodder for pre-session conversations.

Here are a few randomly selected proposals that could incite spirited dialogue.

Guns and ammo

Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Gov. Jay Inslee and several Democratic lawmakers announced Thursday they will seek to limit the capacity of gun magazines to 10 rounds and ban the sale of assault weapons, defined as semi-automatic weapons that have at least one military-style feature. This will be Ferguson’s fourth session fighting for an assault weapons ban.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson (left) looks on as Paul Kramer, the father of a teenage son who survived a mass shooting in Mukilteo, speaks at a news conference announcing legislation to combat mass shootings in the state, Thursday in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson (left) looks on as Paul Kramer, the father of a teenage son who survived a mass shooting in Mukilteo, speaks at a news conference announcing legislation to combat mass shootings in the state, Thursday in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Bills to require background checks for ammunition sales and to prohibit violent offenders or others barred from owning guns from buying or possessing ammo will also be introduced.

Fees and taxes

A $5 surcharge could be tacked onto home and auto insurance policies each year to help combat wildfires under a plan drawn up by Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. A similar concept failed in 2019 in part because she relied on a more complicated means of collecting fees on insurance premiums.

Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, drew up House Bill 2222 to slash property taxes by roughly a third. “The economy is going well and people deserve a tax cut,” he said. Also, he cautioned, an effort is underway to get an initiative on next year’s ballot for a larger tax cut.

Road feuds

As a lawsuit on the legality of Initiative 976 — the $30 car tab measure — winds through the courts, Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, and Rep. Jesse Young, R-Gig Harbor, each pre-filed legislation to enact the language of the ballot measure into law verbatim.

Meanwhile, Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, is pushing a new source of transportation revenue that could offset some of what the state stands to lose if the courts uphold I-976. His proposal would redirect the state’s portion of vehicle sales tax away from the general fund and into the state transportation budget. The shift would be phased in over 10 years.

As titles go, the one for House Bill 2186 will catch people’s attention: “Concerning debris escaping from vehicles on public highways.” It would clarify and tighten rules for covered loads. It would amend existing law to make clear coverings are securely fastened to the vehicle itself. And it adds “rocks” and “other loose matter” to types of loads which must be covered. Current law only references dirt, sand and gravel.

Bigger bets, bigger wins

Those 100-square sports pool boards have been legal since 1973 in Washington. You can have one per athletic event per establishment and charge participants no more than $1 a square.

Rep. Carolyn Eslick, R-Sultan, is looking to up the ante with House Bill 2216, which would increase the maximum bet to $5 and allow up to two boards per event per establishment. Eslick owned a restaurant and said they had $1 board during football season. “It encourages people to come watch the game and increases your business,” she said.

Fruity offerings

Young lemonade stand operators won’t need to get a permit or pay a fee in order to sell their beverages if Republican Rep. Luanne Van Werven of Lynden is successful. She’s drafted legislation barring cities and counties from adopting any rules that prohibit or regulate “the occasional sale of lemonade or other nonalcoholic beverages from a stand on private property by any person under the age of eighteen years.”

There is bipartisan backing for creation of a specialty license plate celebrating Washington apples which enjoy acclaim internationally. Sen. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, is the prime sponsor with Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, the first co-sponsor.

As envisioned, the plate would feature the logo for the Washington apple industry. Proceeds would go to the Washington Apple Education Foundation to provide financial support, job training and mentorship to students with ties to the apple industry who are pursuing higher education.

Cannabis solutions

Producers, purveyors and partakers of cannabis are going to get lots of attention from lawmakers as they seem to receive every year.

Sen. Derek Stanford, D-Bothell, said he’ll propose establishment of a social equity fund to assist minority and women-owned license holders in getting settled into business. He is also interested in changing state rules to allow out-of-state investors to purchase equity in a marijuana growing, producing or retailing operation.

One approach for the equity fund that will get a look has been suggested by the Washington CannaBusiness Association. It would set up a revolving loan program. The money would come from a 1% transaction fee on capital investments greater than $500,000 into marijuana businesses.

Stanford, meanwhile, has already pre-filed Senate Bill 6057 to allow volume-discounting in the industry. It would allow retailers to negotiate a lower price for the purchase of larger quantities of product.

The 2020 session is scheduled to last 60 days.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.


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