Governor’s ultimatum slows bill signing

News about bill being signed into law has been slow-going this session, especially since the governor offered an ultimatum to state lawmakers, who have yet to reach an agreement on the budget.

Last week Gov. Chris Gregoire told legislators she wouldn’t sign any bills into law if Democrats and Republicans don’t figure out the state’s operating budget soon. She’s lightened up a bit since then, signing more than a dozen bills this week.

Still, more than 200 bills remain in question, according to the Washington Policy Center. Included in the list of bills waiting to be signed are at least six proposals by Southwest Washington lawmakers:

• A bill by Rep. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, to create a $5,000 fine for harming a police dog and a $10,000 fine for killing a police dog. It also would remove police dogs from vicious animal statutes.

Legislation by Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, to crack down on government contract abuses, as well as streamline the contracting process to makes it easier for small businesses to participate.

• A proposal by Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, to ensure clients who were mistakenly overpaid benefits by the state Department of Social and Health Services would not have to repay the money when the error is the agency’s fault.

• A bill by Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, to ease penalties the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association imposes on students when a rule violation is made by an adult, such as a coach or administrator.

Legislation by Rep. Tim Probst, D-Vancouver, to allow schools’ financial paperwork to be sent to county treasurers electronically. County treasurers are tasked with overseeing school expenses.

• A measure by Rivers to adopt the federal Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act, which makes it easier for legal parties outside Washington to obtain discovery information in a court case.

No need to worry about Pridemore’s bill allowing state transportation officials to establish tolls to pay for a new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River. The governor signed that into law on March 15.

Stevie Mathieu: 360-735-4523 or or or

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