Home  |   About us  |   Partner with AWC  |   Login      


Welcome to AWC’s online library of Legislative Bulletin and CityVoice news articles and other updates.

Published on Friday, April 18, 2014

Marijuana issues dominate the discussion but fail to pass

Marijuana-related proposals dominated the law and justice issues of the session. However, the Legislature failed to pass any of the proposals except one that dealt with adding the term “concentrates” in the definition of marijuana products. There was some action on other public safety issues including impaired driving, mental health funding, sealing juvenile records, and unmanned aerial vehicles (aka drones).

Legislative priorities for cities focused on reconciling the unregulated medical marijuana market with the regulated recreational market, and securing a portion of the new recreational marijuana excise tax revenue. While there was significant legislative energy behind the need to reconcile the two markets, in the end, nothing passed. This is largely due to dueling perspectives on sharing local revenue, concerns about impacts to medical marijuana patients, objections from the medical marijuana industry and the need for a 2/3 vote to change the original language from the initiative. While many individual legislators expressed support for providing marijuana revenue to cities, there were significant objections to giving up any of the revenue by budget writers and leadership in both houses. We often heard that it was too early to consider revenue sharing because there wasn’t any revenue yet. We also heard concerns that the State needed to retain all of the revenue to help pay for education funding mandated by the McCleary decision. The later argument is a bit misleading since the initiative dedicated the revenue to a variety of programs that did not include education, so the Legislature will need to amend the initiative if they wish to use the new revenue to pay for education.

Marijuana related issues are not going away, particularly the need to address medical marijuana. The US Department of Justice already expressed concerns over unregulated markets calling them untenable. Western Washington US Attorney Jenny Durkan recently labeled medical marijuana dispensaries illegal; however, it is unclear if the federal government will take any enforcement action. It is likely that the issue will again come before the Legislature in 2015. In the meantime, there will be an effort to bring the stakeholders to the table to try to negotiate an agreement on the best way to align the two systems.

Cities must also continue to make our case to legislators about the need to share the new marijuana excise tax revenue. This is especially important as the recreational market makes its first sale to a consumer in late June or early July as the Liquor Control Board begins to issue the first retail licenses.

Other law and justice issues

Other legislation of note includes the proposals to regulate the use of drones by government agencies. The proposals were in response to concerns about unregulated use by government agencies that could violate the rights of individual citizens. In the end, the Legislature passed HB 2789 that placed a variety of restrictions on the use of drones. However, the Governor vetoed the entire bill. The reasons were based on concerns expressed by open government advocates about requirements in the bill to destroy certain records and by some public safety agencies saying the provisions of the bill were overly restrictive, and would make it too difficult to use drones. In his veto message, the Governor placed a 15 month moratorium on the acquisition and use of drones by state agencies and asked other public agencies to also honor the moratorium. The moratorium is intended to give the Legislature time to revisit the issue again in 2015.

HB 1651 exempts certain juvenile arrest and court records from disclosure. The bill seals juvenile records, except in cases with the most serious crimes including sex offenses and certain felony charges. Proponents of the bill noted that Washington is only one of a handful of states that do not seal juvenile records. Opponents of the bill cited open government and public information concerns. While cities do not handle juvenile court cases, cities may still have some records related to arrest and criminal investigations that could be impacted by this new law.

In 2013, many DUI-related bills surfaced as a result of an impaired driving workgroup. In the 2014 session, bills again focused on reducing the number of prior DUI offenses that constitute a felony. None of these measures passed and a felony DUI remains at four convictions in a 10 year period. The two bills that did pass include SB 6413, which expanded the definition of prior offense to include any conviction of driving with alcohol or THC in their system whether it’s a car, boat, aircraft, ATV or snowmobile. The second bill is SB 6415, which changed sentencing so that anyone convicted of a felony DUI, plus other related offenses, must serve those sentences back-to-back.

Mental health was a major issue for many legislators this session. The Legislature passed measures that strengthened the newly named “Behavioral Health Organizations” (BHO), a change from Regional Support Networks (RSN). The supplemental operating budget provides $20 million in community mental health funding increases for three, 16-bed evaluation and treatment centers around the state. Although this was a great step forward, there was no Capital Budget to provide funding for the buildings to house the beds.

BillTracker AWC priority Bill # Descriptive title Final status
    HB 1264 Allowing partial fire district mergers, removing various election requirements. Law; Effective 6/12/2014
    SHB 1292 Vacating prostitution convictions Law; Effective 6/12/2014
    SHB 1742 Allowing sales of growlers of wine Law; Effective 6/12/2014
    SHB 1791 Modifying trafficking provisions, clarifying actions to be taken on forfeited property and allocation of proceeds Law; Effective 6/12/2014
    ESHB 1840 Concerning firearm possession for persons subject to no-contact orders, protection orders and restraining orders Law; Effective 6/12/2014
    SHB 2057 Allows law enforcement to make arrests on certain misdemeanor crimes even if they are not the witnessing officer Law; Effective 6/12/2014
Other significant issue ESHB 2155 Allows local law enforcement to work with retailers when unacceptable loss is reported. This is defined as any loss of spirits that results in a minor consuming or being in possession of sprits. Law; Effective 6/12/2014
    SSB 6069 Modifying community custody provisions for sex offenders pertaining to contacting victims of immediate family members of victims Law; Effective 6/12/2014
    SSB 6279 Allowing timely access to magistrates to review search warrant applications Law; Effective 6/12/2014
    SB 6413 Expanding definition of prior offenses relating to driving under the influence Law; Effective 6/12/2014
    SB 6415 Requires sentences for driving under the influence be served consecutively instead of concurrently Law; Effective 6/12/2014
    EHB 2789 Regulating state and local agency procurement and use of extraordinary sensing devices Governor vetoed
    ESHB 1654 Establishing a regional fire protection service authority within the boundaries of a single city Failed
    SHB 1771 Concerning standards for use of unmanned aircraft systems Failed
    HB 2117 Preventing local governments from establishing breed-based dog regulations Failed
Major priority SHB 2144 Establishing a dedicated local jurisdiction marijuana fund and the distribution of specified percentage of marijuana excise tax revenues to local jurisdictions Failed
    E2SHB 2149 Reconciling medical marijuana market with recreational marijuana market Failed
    SHB 2154 Creating a liquor license for fairs Failed
    SHB 2178 Regulating the use of unmanned aircrafts Failed
    HB 2322 Requires cities treat marijuana-related business like all other business with respect to licensing, zoning and land use regulations Failed
    SHB 2468 Clarifying retention of biological material collected during criminal investigation  Failed
Other significant issue SHB 2497 Establishing new authority for courts to assess cost recovery fees for costs associating with new indigent defense standards Failed
    HB 2506 Making felony DUI a class B felony Failed
    SHB 2507 Increasing the penalty for vehicular homicide to a ten-year sentence enhancement Failed
    HB 2601 Provides that a municipal court term may only be terminated at the end of a judicial term of the judge(s) in that court Failed
    HB 2638 Removes local authority in regulating the production, processing, possession or use of legal marijuana Failed
    HB 2701 Considers prior offenses within fifteen years instead of ten for DUI Failed
    SHB 2728 Makes various changes to DUI statutes Failed
    HB 2732 Allocates $20 mil to cities and towns from marijuana excise tax revenue Failed
    ESSB 5020 Modifying indigent defense provisions Failed
    SB 5520 Establishing a regional fire protection service authority within the boundaries of a single city Failed
Major priority E3SSB 5887 Merging the medical marijuana system with the recreational marijuana system Failed
    SB 5968 Addressing the safe care of inmates and suspects in Washington hospital's with law enforcement accompaniment Failed
    SB 6011 Increases penalties for random assaults commonly known as the "knock-out game" Failed
    SSB 6017 Provides additional proceeds from seizure and forfeiture for prevention in sexual exploitation of children and prostitution Failed
    SSB 6085 Increasing the one can count prior offenses from ten to fifteen years for driving under the influence violations Failed
    SB 6090 changes felony DUI definition from 4 to 3 prior offenses Failed
    SSB 6172 Regulating use of unmanned aerial vehicles Failed
    2SSB 6178 Reconciling medical marijuana market with recreational marijuana market Failed
    SB 6218 Modifying peace officer certification provisions Failed
Other significant issue E2SSB 6249 Establishing new authority for courts to assess cost recovery fees for costs associating with new indigent defense standards Failed
    SB 6393 Allocates $20 mil to cities and towns from marijuana excise tax revenue Failed