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How are Federal Way legislators voting in the 2014 session?

Left to right, 30th Legislative District Sen. Tracey Eide (D), Rep. Roger Freeman (D) and Rep. Linda Kochmar (R).  - Contributed
Left to right, 30th Legislative District Sen. Tracey Eide (D), Rep. Roger Freeman (D) and Rep. Linda Kochmar (R).
— image credit: Contributed

The following is a recap of how Federal Way legislators from the 30th District recently voted on several bills (according to washingtonvotes.org):

House Bill 1043

This bill that limits differential tuition passed the House on Jan. 17 by a vote of 90-2.

This bill removes the authority of the state four-year colleges and community and technical colleges to set different tuition rates for selected resident undergraduate programs. Under their current tuition-setting authority, some state institutions charge higher tuition for high-demand programs such has Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

Proponents of the bill say that charging more tuition for such programs reduces the likelihood of students choosing these programs. The House passed this bill during the 2013 session by a vote of 95-1, but it did not see action in the Senate.

Yes: Kochmar; excused: Freeman.

House Bill 1251

Increasing membership on the Opportunity Scholarship Board. The measure passed the House on Jan. 24 by a vote of 61-36.

The bill would add two business and industry representatives to the Opportunity Scholarship Board, raising membership from seven to nine. The board oversees programs enacted by the 2011 Legislature to mitigate tuition increases, increase the number of undergraduate degrees and invest in students to meet labor market demands by raising scholarship funds through a combination of private and state dollars.

Proponents said in committee testimony that the proposal would allow the Opportunity Scholarship Board to better reflect the businesses and industries in the state with a growing need for employees in STEM and health care degrees, and would help the board meet its quorum requirements. No opposing testimony was offered.

Yes: Freeman and Kochmar.

House Bill 1348

Changing collective bargaining to provide additional compensation for academic employees at community and technical colleges. Passed the House on Jan. 24 by a vote of 63-34.

The bill would require community and technical college boards of trustees to award step increases to academic employees based on collective bargaining agreements and would permit the step increases to exceed compensation provided by the Legislature.

In committee testimony, proponents said employees of community and technical colleges are the only group of public employees with no remedy to pay for the step increases they negotiate with management. The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges expressed concern that this bill shifts responsibility for paying step increases from the Legislature to local colleges.

Yes: Freeman and Kochmar.

House Bill 1669

Concerning self-supporting, fee-based programs at four-year institutions of higher education. Passed the House on Jan. 24 by a vote of 86-11.

This bill would require that when a four-year state college considers changing a degree program that is state funded to a self-supporting, fee-based program it must: publicly notify prospective students, including notification in admission offers with an estimate of tuition and fees; provide at least six months notification to enrolled students and undergraduate or graduate student government associations; and allow students currently enrolled in the program to continue in the state-supported program structure for up to four years.

Yes: Freeman and Kochmar.

House Bill 1536

Changing requirements for membership on community and technical college boards of trustees. Passed the House on Jan. 22 by a vote of 58-39.

This bill would require that boards of trustees of community college districts include at least one member from business and one from organized labor. According to proponents in committee testimony, this would help to ensure community and technical colleges are getting the training that is needed in the workforce with the input from business and labor. No opposing testimony was offered.

Yes: Freeman and Kochmar.

House Bill 1294

Prohibiting certain flame retardants in upholstered furniture or children’s products. Passed the House on Jan. 22 by a vote of 72-25.

This bill would prohibit the manufacture, sale, or distribution of residential upholstered furniture or children’s products containing flame retardant chemicals collectively known as “Tris” in amounts greater than 100 parts per million, beginning July 1, 2015. It also prohibits other high concern chemicals for children’s products, unless a manufacturer can demonstrate that there is no technically feasible safer alternative to the flame retardant.

Proponents expressed concerns about exposure to toxic chemicals in homes and the particular risks to children. Opponents of the bill pointed out that a national standard would be better than a state standard, since it is hard for manufacturers to deal with state-by-state regulations. The bill had passed both the House and the Senate during the 2013 session, but the chambers could not agree on the amendments that had been made.

Yes: Freeman and Kochmar.

Senate Bill 6523

Expanding higher education opportunities for certain students. Passed the Senate on Jan. 31 by a vote of 35-10.

This bill would add students who receive federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status to the eligibility for the State Needs Grant tuition assistance program. DACA status applies to children who were brought to the United States by their parents illegally.

The bill, called the “Real Hope Act,” would make DACA status students eligible for the grant if they completed the full senior year of high school and obtained a diploma or its equivalent at a Washington public or private high school; lived in Washington for at least three years immediately prior to receiving the diploma or its equivalent; and continuously lived in the state after receiving the diploma or its equivalent and until being admitted to a public institution of higher education.

This bill seeks to accomplish the same overall goals as HB 1817, the “Washington State Dream Act,” which was passed by the House on the first day of this year’s legislative session.

Yes: Sen. Tracey Eide

House Bill 1313

Establishing minimum standards for paid sick and safe leave from employment. Passed the House on Jan. 29 by a vote of 52-45.

The bill would require employers in Washington state with more than four full-time equivalent employees to provide paid leave to employees for: specified medical reasons relating to the employee’s or a family member’s health; reasons permitted under existing law requiring unpaid leave for purposes related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking; or closure of the employee’s place of business.

An employer must compensate an employee who uses sick and safe leave at the same hourly rate and with the same benefits as the employee would have earned during the time leave is taken. No compensation would be required for lost tips or commissions and compensation is only required for hours that the employee was scheduled to work.

Yes: Freeman; no: Kochmar.

House Bill 1279

Allowing motor voter pre-registration for sixteen and seventeen year olds. Passed the House on Jan. 27 by a vote of 54-42.

This bill would authorize the Department of Licensing (DOL) to pre-register a person to vote who is at least 16 years of age at the time he or she applies for a driver’s license or identicard. The information contained in the voter pre-registration application would be exempt from public inspection and copying.

Current law requires the DOL to provide voter registration services to persons applying for or renewing a driver’s license or identicard if they are United States citizens and are at least 18 years old on or before the next election. Eight states currently allow pre-registration of individuals younger than 18, including Oregon and California.

Yes: Freeman; no: Kochmar.

House Bill 1267

Changing voter registration deadlines. Passed the House on Jan. 27 by a vote of 59-37.

This bill would change the time period for online voter registration from 29 to 11 days before a primary or general election; the time period for in-person registration from eight to 11 days before an election; and the time period for mail-in registrations from 29 to 28 days before an election. An earlier version of the bill would have allowed online registration up to eight days before an election, and in-person registration at a county auditor’s office until 5 p.m. on the day of an election.

County auditors, however, testified in committee hearings that same-day registration would place too great a burden on their offices. The bill was amended on the floor to its current content when it previously passed the House during the 2013 legislative session.

Yes: Freeman; no: Kochmar.

House Bill 1413

Enacting the Washington voting rights act of 2013. Passed the House on Jan. 27 by a vote of 53-43.

This bill would prohibit elections in Washington’s political subdivisions that are applied in a way that denies a protected class an equal opportunity to elect candidates of its choice or to influence the outcome of an election.

Protected class means a class of voters who are members of a race, color, or language minority group. To avoid any potential violations of voting rights, the bill would authorize political subdivisions of the state to change from at-large to district-based election systems, or to redraw districts in existing district-based systems.

A violation of voting rights would be shown by demonstrating that the elections in the political subdivision have polarized voting and members of a protected class lack an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice or to influence election outcomes.

Polarized voting means voting in which there is a difference in the choice of candidates or other electoral choices that are preferred by voters in a protected class, and the choices that are preferred by voters in the rest of the electorate. Remedies include court-imposed and supervised redistricting.

Yes: Freeman; no: Kochmar.

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