New laws take effect in Washington
It's hard to believe it's been more than three months since the 2009 legislative session ended April 26. I am reminded because hundreds of new laws recently became effective from the action taken by the Legislature earlier this year.
Washington's constitution says “No act, law, or bill subject to referendum shall take effect until ninety days after the adjournment of the session at which it was enacted.” Some laws, however, are written to become effective later. Some may actually take effect immediately after the governor signs them, if the legislation contains an emergency clause. Legislation necessary to implement the budget normally contains an emergency clause so it can become effective at the beginning of the fiscal year, which is July 1.
Nearly 500 new laws have become effective in the past month. Here's a sampling of several:
Newspaper tax reductions: Many newspapers in Washington are struggling to stay in business as classified and subscription revenues decline. House Bill 2122 reduces the Business and Occupation (B&0) tax rate for newspapers from 0.484 percent to 0.2904 percent. While I voted in favor of this measure, I would have also preferred the B&O tax reduction be extended to other small businesses that are also struggling to stay afloat in our state.
College textbook advanced notification: With tuition rates rising as much as 14 percent this year through legislation I opposed, it will be tougher for students and parents to afford college. Some small relief comes through House Bill 1025, which requires college-affiliated bookstores to provide a four-week advance notice of course material requirements. This gives students the ability to seek better prices of books online and time to order those materials so they can arrive before classes begin.
Protecting records of home-schooled students: More than 16,000 children are home-schooled in Washington. A quirk in the public records law protects public school students' information, however, any requestor could obtain personal information about home-schooled students. As a result, home-schooling families have been receiving unsolicited contacts from merchants and academics. House Bill 1288, which I co-sponsored, provides the same privacy protections to home-schooled kids as their public school counterparts.
Protecting students from sexual misconduct in schools. House Bill 1835 protects students from sexual misconduct by teachers and school employees up to age 21. The new law is in response to a ruling earlier this year by the Washington Court of Appeals, which said that state law does not bar teachers from having consensual sex with 18-year-old students.
Other new laws: give vehicle owners additional recourse under the state's “Lemon Law” (HB 1215); provide protections against care-giver child abuse (Erik's Law – HB 2279); allow the state to accept voluntary contributions for purchase of Washington state flags for military personnel (HB 1121); and make it easier for paramedics and other emergency health care workers to transition into a nursing career (HB 1808).
Even with these new laws, hundreds of bills also died, many that could have been very bad for our state and which I fought against, including expensive cap-and-trade legislation and proposals to increase your taxes.
For a list of the “Best and Worst Bills of the 2009 Session,” go to my Web site at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen.
EDITOR'S NOTE: State Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, represents the 39th Legislative District, and also serves as chairman of the Washington House Republican Caucus. He can be contacted at (360) 786-7967 or from his Web site at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen.