Breaking News
More () »

Tracking the progress of major Washington bills

Proposals dealing with the death penalty, vaccines and domestic violence are at three different stages in the lawmaking process.

Bills on three significant issues are making their way through the Washington legislature. 

Proposals dealing with the death penalty, vaccines and domestic violence are at varying stages.

Death penalty

The furthest along is SB 5339, which would repeal the death penalty in the state of Washington.

Its introduction follows a moratorium on executions by Gov. Jay Inslee and a ruling by the state's supreme court calling capital punishment in Washington unconstitutional.

RELATED: Washington Senate passes death penalty repeal bill

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), believes this year, legislative repeal has the momentum it needs to pass.

"I believe that this is the year that the state legislature is going to close the chapter on the death penalty in our state," said Carlyle.

On Friday, the bill passed the full state senate by a vote of 28 to 19. 

Carlyle says he's confident it will fare well in the house and become law.

"Last year, the state senate passed this bill off the floor as well. It did not make it to the floor of the house," he said. "This year the leadership of the house has made it clear that they plan to bring it to the floor of the house. So I think it'll move forward this year, and I think this will be the final chapter on this policy."

RELATED: Spokane Co. Prosecutor: 'There are very few crimes that are death penalty eligible'

Measles vaccine

Meanwhile, a bill regarding the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine is making progress in the state house. It comes as the measles outbreak continues to infect dozens of children in Southwest Washington and has sparked significant debate.

RELATED: Southwest Washington measles outbreak: 61 confirmed cases

Right now, the state allows parents to keep their children unvaccinated for medical, religious, personal or philosophical reasons.

HB 1638 eliminates the personal and philosophical exemptions for measles, meaning those children would need to get the MMR vaccine in order to attend school.

"States that have tighter exemption laws have less disease and higher immunization rates, period," said Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman at a hearing for the bill. "That means less suffering, fewer hospitalizations, and deaths averted, and kids and teachers focused on education."

At public hearings earlier this month, hundreds of anti-vaccination advocates protested at the capitol, including prominent vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

The protests have not stopped the bill's progress so far. It made it out of committee on a 10 to 5 vote.

It will now go before the Rules Committee before seeing a full vote on the house floor.

Domestic violence

Another proposal, commonly known as Tina's Law, hasn't made much progress so far this legislative session.

Tina's Law is a proposal to create a statewide, public registry of serious domestic violence offenders.

That name comes from Tina Stewart, a woman who was murdered by her boyfriend in Eastern Washington in 2017.

RELATED: Families of Newman Lake murder victim and suspect get into scuffle outside courthouse

RELATED: Newman Lake man sentenced to 16 years for the murder of his girlfriend

Her uncle, Don Estes, is promoting DV registry laws in all 50 states.

"We can do this as a society," he told KREM in October. "People have to step up and say when enough's enough. Well this is enough. We've had enough."

His advocacy has led to two bills proposed in the Washington legislature, one each in the house and senate.

HB 1080 has been introduced in committee and held a hearing, but has not been voted on by that committee yet.

SB 5244 has been introduced, but hasn't made any progress since.

Before You Leave, Check This Out