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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We have passed the halfway mark of the 2019 legislative session. Lawmakers have been spending long days and some nights on the House floor debating bills that are going to the Senate for consideration.

We have seen a significant amount of legislation introduced this session – more than 1,400 House bills, and 1,300 Senate bills have been introduced. Keep in mind, we are only 58 days into the 105-day legislative session.

We have seen a lot of good legislation moving, and some very concerning pieces of legislation. Here is an overview of the good and bad, along with a couple of my high priority bills.

Tobacco 21

Many of you know, I am passionate about the health of our young people. My Tobacco 21 legislation, House Bill 1074, passed the House and is now in the Senate. The bill would prohibit the sale of cigarettes, tobacco and vapor products to anyone under the age of 21.

One in five kids either smokes or vapes, and one in three young smokers will die of smoking-related illnesses. We need to get tobacco off our school campuses.

Rep. Harris receives a Certificate of Appreciation from the Cancer Action Network for his work on T-21.

Vaccinating for measles

Everyone is aware of the measles epidemic in Clark County. My priority as a representative for the 17th District is the health and safety of my constituents and my community. My House Bill 1638 would remove the philosophical or personal objection exemption for the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. The bill has passed the House and is in the Senate for consideration.

By not vaccinating kids we are putting those who cannot be vaccinated at risk, including infants and cancer survivors. More than 800 students have been ordered not to attend school because of the outbreak.

The measles vaccine is 97 percent effective; adverse effects are rare. The measles vaccine has no relation to autism. Click here to read an article on the latest study supporting that finding.

I certainly understand where those who are opposed to this legislation are coming from. However, this has become a very serious public safety issue.

Rep. Harris and health care officials talk with the media after the public hearing on HB 1638.

Good legislation coming out of the House

House Bill 1231 would end the statute of limitations for sex crimes involving children. This legislation is extremely important for sexual assault survivors in Washington state. Survivors have waited a long time for this legislation. I am hopeful it will make it through the Senate.

House Bill 2129 addresses a federal district court judge ruling that found our state’s existing cyber harassment/stalking law unconstitutional. It is critical we update our cyber harassment law after this court ruling.

House Bill 1599, a measure sponsored by Rep. Monica Stonier and I, would create flexibility with graduation standards. Education is not one-size-fits-all. Students need to have different options or pathways. I know from personal experience, my own five children took different paths in their education. The bill passed with a strong vote of 91-4 and I am hopeful it will pass the Senate.

House Bill 1089 would delink standardized tests from high school graduation requirements. We do not want to tie graduation to a standardized test that is not even tied to the curriculum. We want students to succeed in the classroom and out. 

House Bill 1702 would let community and technical college students know whether “low-cost” materials are available for their college courses. With the cost of higher education any transparency and accountability we can add to the costs of textbooks and tuition will benefit our college students.

House Bill 1621 would give more flexibility to universities and colleges when considering whether to admit applicants to their education programs. We are hopeful this will attract more people to the teaching profession.

House Bill 1866 would give childcare centers until August 1, 2024, to comply with new changes to professional development requirements. Childcare is expensive. We need these centers to provide affordable childcare, and it is important to support them and make sure they succeed.

Presidential primary

Senate Bill 5273, which moves Washington’s presidential primary vote to the second Tuesday in March from late May, has already made its way to the governor’s desk and awaits his signature.

The bill passed the House 54-42 with all Republicans and one Democrat voting “no.” While I agree with moving the primary up, I believe the bill disenfranchises the independent voters of Washington state. Voters who do not declare a party preference would not be able to participate in the state’s presidential primary. Republicans offered several amendments to allow voters to participate without declaring a party preference or casting a vote as an unaffiliated voter. All were defeated.

Many of our concerns can be found in a Seattle Times column: ‘Highway robbery’: How our presidential primary is also a marketing scheme, run through your ballot.

Individual health insurance market

On Friday, the state House passed a public health care option measure, House Bill 1523, on party lines. I am concerned this is a major step toward government-run health care. It will hurt the individual, small and large-group markets, and could be devastating to rural health care. Costs will increase and plan options will decrease.

Low carbon fuel standard

House Bill 1110 would create a new low carbon fuel standard program similar to California’s model. This program would: add to the price of gas and goods; not significantly improve our environment; and not generate any new funding for transportation infrastructure. This bill has not passed the House yet, but I expect it will before Wednesday’s deadline.

Keep in touch

Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns or comments about the bills in this email update or other issues before us in Olympia. Your input is important to me.

It is an honor to serve you!


Paul Harris

State Representative Paul Harris, 17th Legislative District
426A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7976 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000