Two bills from Rep. Waters survive committee cutoff

Freshman legislator state Rep. Kevin Waters, R-Stevenson, from the 17th District has two alcohol-related bills that survived Friday’s legislative session cutoff for bills to make it out of committee.

House Bill 1731, which creates an annual $75 permit issued by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board and would allow some short-term rental operators to provide a complimentary bottle of wine to guests over the age of 21, had a public hearing before the House Regulated Substances and Gaming committee on Feb. 9.

The bill is similar to what bed-and-breakfast facilities are already allowed to provide to guests via a separate $75 permit from the state liquor board. Permit fees collected would go to the state’s tourism marketing account. According to a legislative staff report, there would be around 300 operators eligible for the permit each year.

“As someone who owns a short-term rental, I can tell you I’ve broken this law myself,” Waters told the committee. “I believe this is a stop gap to help folks who are truly trying to do a nice thing. They’re trying to provide a service.”

Waters said Washington’s reputation for excellent wines brings a lot of tourists to the state and this bill would allow short-term rental operators to promote that reputation while keeping them from breaking the law.

“It’s probably a bigger issue than we realize,” Waters said.

The bill was unanimously passed by the committee and moved on to the House Rules committee.

House Bill 1772 would make it illegal to manufacture, importation or sale of alcohol products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance found in marijuana. If passed, the bill would make it illegal under both the state’s liquor statutes and uniform controlled substances act.

Waters, who testified before the House Regulated Substances and Gaming committee on Feb. 13, said both alcohol and THC act as depressants and can be dangerous when combined.

“When alcohol and cannabis are mixed together, the effects of each individual substance becomes exaggerated. This can result in the person losing control of their actions or even overdosing,” Waters told the committee.

Waters said passing this bill was particularly personal because his community suffered a tragic loss last summer when a 17-year-old girl died after combining THC and alcohol.

“I feel this bill brings a little bit of justice for her,” Waters said. “And as a brewery owners, this is something I don’t want to deal with on a market level. I don’t think it’s right to get it in front of our kids.”

The committee voted 10-1 to pass the bill which then moved on to the House Rules committee.

— Shari Phiel

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