Gov. Jay Inslee has signed several landmark bills sponsored by Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, within the past week. One is designed to protect public-employee whistleblowers from retaliation, another will begin the process of reforming the state’s mental-health system and a third will help protect the privacy of those who search state-licensing records. Senate Bill 5182 – signed Tuesdsay – prohibits the state Department of Licensing from disclosing personal information about someone who requests license-related information, beyond whether the requesting party is an attorney or private investigator. State law now allows people to learn more detail about those who have requested information about them; Carrell says that can be dangerous for private investigators and attorneys who have legitimate reasons for accessing the information since the people being investigated are often felons who do not want to be found. Because many private investigators and attorneys work out of their homes, a person upset about being investigated or sued could obtain the private investigator’s or attorney’s home address, presenting serious safety concerns.
In a legislative session notable for what did not get done, lawmakers left Olympia last week having passed a bipartisan package of mental-health bills notable for their scope. The most fundamental reform comes thanks to state Sen. Mike Carrell, the Lakewood Republican who became sick during the session. Carrell’s measure, Senate Bill 5732, requires, for the first time, common standards and outcome measurements across the fractured county-based outpatient mental-health system. This accountability is welcome and overdue.
The deadline for the Washington State Legislature to end its business and go home was Sunday, however since no budget agreement could be reached in time, taxpayers will now be forced to foot the bill for yet another special session (which seems to be developing into an annual occurrence in Olympia). Our Majority Coalition Caucus has remained committed to its three founding principles: creating jobs, improving education and passing a sustainable, no-new-taxes budget. I’m confident that my colleagues in the Senate are adhering to that position, as evidenced by the Senate’s bipartisan budget proposal that was approved 30-18 with nine members of the minority party voting in favor of it.
As sessions go, 2013 has been one of the most successful I’ve experienced in nearly 20 years. I introduced 39 pieces of legislation this year (many of which were reintroductions of bills I proposed in past years); 10 of them are now going to become law plus three more House bills that are companions to bills I sponsored. That is an historic amount for this legislator! So far, the governor has signed only two of my bills, however bills passed by both the House and Senate will become law with or without the governor’s ceremonial signature. He only has the power to veto some or all of a passed bill. My first bill signed into law is SB 5274, which requires the Department of Licensing to allow private motorcycle skills education programs (i.e. Harley-Davidson) to offer motorcycle safety education where students pay the full cost for the training. Inslee signed that bill on April 22 and sent me a very thoughtful letter of appreciation. The second is SB 5466, a technical clean-up measure requested by the Washington State Patrol that will coalesce WSP recordkeeping procedures with processes and protocols required under state law. It was signed by the governor on April 23rd.