Walsh Bill compares the restricted access of lawmakers to legislative facilities to racial segregation in schools; Abbarno offers employer tax incentives for veterans

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By Eric Rosane / ericr@chronline.com

Lawmakers in the 19th and 20th legislative constituencies are still busy tabling legislation for consideration in the next legislative session in 2022, which is due to meet on January 10.

The following are bills pre-tabled by local lawmakers that have been submitted over the past two weeks.

Representative Peter Abbarno introduces tax credit legislation for employers who hire veterans

Representative Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, tabled legislation last week that would expand tax incentives for employers who hire veterans, veterans spouses and active-duty military personnel, after having employed them full-time for at least two years.

House Bill 1677 would increase an existing tax credit of $ 1,500 for businesses and occupancy to $ 3,000 for people hired full-time as of July 1 of next year, and would also extend a tax credit associated with the spouses of veterans or spouses of a military member on active duty. member.

About 10% of Lewis County’s population are serving in the military or a veteran, according to a press release from the Abbarno office.

“Soldiers, veterans and their families have given so much to our community and sacrificed themselves for our freedoms. This bill is a way to create work opportunities, provide financial stability and give them back, ”Abbarno said in a statement. “At the same time, it will help businesses that are struggling to meet demand for supplies and services. It really is the perfect match – providing jobs for veterans and military spouses, and reducing the labor shortage is a win-win situation for our communities.

The legislation has so far received the support of five other Republican representatives.

Representative Walsh Introduces Bill Reforming Legislative Operating Procedures and Access to Facilities Regardless of Immunization Status

Representatives Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, and Robert Sutherland, R-Granite Falls, tabled two bills on Thursday last week that “would reform the means by which the legislature establishes the procedures of operation” and a bill that would allow all legislators to have access to the Capitol Campus buildings regardless of vaccination status.

It comes after Walsh denounced a rule that effectively barred around two dozen lawmakers from entering their capital city offices last October after Governor Jay Inslee’s tenure on the COVID-19 vaccine came into effect. Lawmakers had not submitted documents showing they were vaccinated against the viral disease, which has killed more than 9,700 Washingtonians in the past two years.

In Walsh and Sutherland’s Operational Procedures Reform Bill, House Bill 1695, lawmakers compared the limitation of limited access to the Capitol by some lawmakers to that of “segregation” which violated “spirit and letter. Of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education, which found racial segregation to be unconstitutional.

Lawmakers argue that “segregating” lawmakers from physical access to government buildings creates “constitutional inequality” that undermines the representation of millions of state residents, violating the Brown ruling, which “clearly states that the separation is not equal ”. Their bills would also create more transparency and accountability in how the Legislative Assembly sets its rules for the conduct of business.

“Our state is suffering from a constitutional crisis,” Walsh said in a statement.

“The state government has done things that violate the letter and spirit of federal and state constitutions. While the greatest of these mistakes has been made by another branch of government, we in the Legislature need to improve and strengthen the way we do business. ”

Another section of the bill states that “no operating rule of the House of Representatives or the Senate can separate, discriminate, or offer privileged status to lawmakers on the basis of medical condition, including vaccination or antibody status “.

Representative McEntire Tackles Fireworks Laws

Representatives Joel McEntire, R-Cathlamet, and Joe Fitzgibbon, D-West Seattle, tabled pre-tabled legislation Dec. 13 regarding fireworks bans enacted by cities or counties.

Cities and counties are currently permitted under Washington state law to impose restrictions on the sale and showing of fireworks, although most of them come into effect no later than early a year after their adoption.

House Bill 1638, introduced by the two legislators, would allow these municipalities to ban consumer fireworks, under certain circumstances, 90 days after passage.

“A city or county may, after consultation with a local fire marshal or other fire official, immediately prohibit the use of some or all types of consumer fireworks when environmental conditions make the risk of fireworks high. fireworks causing an uncontrolled fire and other temporary prohibitions on fire, conflagration or the use of fuels are in force, ”reads a new passage of the law.

In recent years, Washington State has seen worsening wildfire seasons that have burned millions of acres of land.

Municipalities across the state have considered partial or total fireworks bans to help reduce the likelihood of life-threatening bushfires and forest fires.

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