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Press Release

    Washington State Freedom Agenda Update

    01/29/2004

    Committee cut-off day February 6th
    The last day to read reports in house of origin, except House and Senate fiscal committees is February 6th. That means that bills that do not pass out of committees by that date, are no longer under consideration this session. There will be a few exemptions made to this rule, but nothing guaranteed.

    Two of our agenda items need special attention this week. All legislators can be reached through the toll-free legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000. Direct phone numbers and mailing addresses can be found on the WA State Legislature link on this website www.leg.wa.gov

    School Choice
    Washington is one of ten states that do not allow charter schools. Last year, the Senate passed a charter school bill but it did not go to the House floor for a vote. On January 22nd, the House Education Committee voted against (4-7), HB 2295, the active charter school bill after changes designed to appease longtime opponents backfired and alienated supporters. The major opposition came from a clause that would have left unionized non-teacher employees of a school in the larger school district bargaining if the school were converted into a charter school. Rep. Gig Talcott (R-28), a strong charter school supporter and the ranking Republican on the Committee, opposed the provision saying it would hamstring converted schools’ ability to make changes such as longer school days, leaner administration and laying off workers in favor of parent volunteers so more money could be channeled to instruction. Her opposition, combined with other Republicans who support real choice instead of union protection, and the votes of Democrats long opposed to charter schools, resulted in the defeat of the bill. There is still time to get a charter school bill out of this committee. Members of the committee that consider themselves pro-charter schools are Representatives Quall (D-40-Chair), Anderson (R-5), Hunter (D-48), McMahan (R-26), Rockefeller (D-23), Talcott (R-28) and Tom (R-48). If these are your representatives, please contact them and ask them to support and vote for a charter schools bill that provides real choices for parents. For more information and frequent updates on the 2004 action, visit www.wacharterschools.org.

    Liability Reform
    The 2004 comprehensive liability reform bills are Senate Bill 6520, sponsored by Sen. Brandland (R-42), and House Bill 3030, sponsored by Rep. Carrell (R-28). These bill are identical companion bills drafted with the assistance of the Liability Reform Coalition. They are very similar to SB 5728 which passed the Senate in the 2003 session and died in the House Judiciary Committee. Current legislative strategy is to amend SB 6520 onto SB 5728 and pass it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee prior to the February 6th cut-off date. Please contact your State Senators and ask them to vote in favor of the omnibus bill and give a special thank you to Senator Brandland and Representative Carrell for their sponsorship of the legislation.

    SB 6520/HB 3030 contain provisions that address the following areas:

  • Joint and Several Liability Reform
  • Good-faith Employee Reference Checks
  • Tort Judgment Interest Rate
  • Broad Medical-Malpractice Liability Reform and Patient
  • Safety Initiatives
  • Construction Liability Reform
  • Seatbelt Defense
  • Government Liability Protections
  • Eliminating Frivolous Lawsuits
  • Government Standards Defense
  • Manufacturer Distribution Liability Protection
  • Obesity Lawsuits
  • For complete legislative text and updated strategy, visit www.walrc.org.

    Special Notice to CSE Members in the 26th Legislative District.
    The 2003 comprehensive liability reform bill died in the House Judiciary Committee because Chairman Pat Lantz (D-26) refused to let the bill have a vote and we can not let that happen again this year. Please contact Representative Lantz and tell her to let the members of the committee vote. One person should not have the ability to stop reforms wanted by the majority of citizens in this state.
    Representative Lantz can be contacted the following ways:

    Email: lantz_pa@leg.wa.gov
    Phone: 360.786.7964
    Fax: 360.786,7317
    Mailing address: PO Box 40600, Olympia, WA, 98504