Southwest Washington lawmakers off to a busy start

Southwest Washington lawmakers had a busy first week in Olympia with several bills already well on their way toward passing. The 2024 legislative session convened on Monday.

House Bill 1455, which was introduced by 49th District Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, in the 2023 session was unanimously approved by the House on the first day of the session.

If passed, the bill would prohibit individuals under the age of 18 from marrying. Current law allows children of any age to marry. A judge’s consent is required for a child younger than age 17 to marry while parental consent is required for 17-year-olds to marry.

“Passing this bill on the first day of session gets us one step closer to protecting children from potentially abusive, dangerous, and coercive situations with no legal recourse or way to escape,” Stonier said in a press release Tuesday.

Marrying before the age of 18 often comes with lifelong consequences, such as higher rates of sexual and domestic violence, increased medical and mental health problems, and a greater risk of poverty. It’s estimated that up to 80 percent of child marriages in the United States end in divorce, compared to 40-50 percent for adult first marriages.

The bill was referred to the Senate Law and Justice Committee on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the House unanimously passed a bill from Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, that would give educators with a reprimand an opportunity for redemption.

House Bill 1113 would require the Professional Educator Standards Board to adopt rules for reviewing and vacating reprimands issued to certified professional educators that did not involve a student. The board currently does not have a process in place.

Harris, who represents the 17th District, introduced the bill during the 2023 session.

“I’m happy to see this bill get a second chance after stalling in the Senate last year,” Harris, R-Vancouver, said in a press release Thursday. “Some teachers with reprimands are outstanding educators and they will likely never repeat the offending unprofessional conduct. I believe in redemption and educators with minor infractions should be given an opportunity to clear their record.”

The bill will again go to the Senate for further consideration.

Rep. Greg Cheney, R-Battle Ground, from the 18th District, is hopeful his voter registration bill will clear the House this week as well.

According to Cheney, House Bill 1962 is designed to create a seamless process for updating voter registration rolls when individuals move within Washington state.,

Currently, registration transfers occur very slowly when moving outside the county of registration.

“It’s important that auditors and election officials quickly and securely update the statewide voter database when an individual moves. This bill dramatically reduces the risk of a ballot being sent to an old address, or from duplicate ballots being sent, by requiring rapid updates to the statewide voter rolls,” Cheney said in a press release Thursday. “It also aligns with the reality that people often relocate ― making it easier for everyone to participate in elections.”

The bill is scheduled for a vote in the House Committee on State Government and Tribal Relations on Friday.

— Shari Phiel


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