Bills from lawmakers in Legislative District 17 progress through Legislature


Legislators representing the east side of Clark County are seeing their authored bills progress through the lawmaking process, as one bill moves onto the Senate after passing on the House floor.

State Rep. Paul Harris saw one of his bills get unanimous approval from his fellow members of the Washington State House of Representatives.

House Bill 1113 would require the state’s Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) to adopt rules for reviewing and vacating reprimands received by certificated professional educators not involving a student, a release from the Washington State House Republicans stated.

Educators currently don’t have a process to remove reprimands from their certificate, the release stated.

“I’m happy to see this bill move forward because I believe in redemption,” Harris, R-Vancouver, stated in the release. “Some teachers with reprimands are outstanding educators and they will likely never repeat the offending unprofessional conduct. This policy does not include teachers with reprimands involving students. But educators with minor infractions should be given an opportunity to clear their record.”

The bill requires the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to report to the Legislature the number of people who petition to have a reprimand vacated and the number who are successful in the removal, the release stated.

“It is important to show mercy to those who have taken the required corrective action,” Harris said. “We all make mistakes — and I’m all for accountability — but we need to make sure the penalty doesn’t outweigh the offense.”

The bill passed 93-0 in the House on Feb. 6. Two days later, it was read in the Senate and referred to the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee.

Harris also had a pair of bills set for action early this week. House Bill 1112 was scheduled for a public hearing in the House Committee on Transportation on Feb. 13. If signed into law, the bill would allow judges to impose criminal penalties for negligent driving cases where a vulnerable victim dies. The bill also creates the offense of negligent driving with a vulnerable victim in the first degree as a gross misdemeanor.

“Right now, a person can get into a car, swat at a bug, and be fined $250 whether they hit a mailbox or a human,” Harris said in a January release announcing the bill. “Judges need the discretion to be able to treat these cases differently.”

The offense would be punishable by up to nearly a year in jail, a minimum $1,000 fine and a 90-day suspension of driving privileges, the release stated.

HB 1112 already had a hearing in the House Committee on Community Safety, Justice and Reentry last month, passing that committee with approval on Jan. 26.

Harris’ House Bill 1497 was also scheduled for action during an executive session in the House Committee on Regulated Substances and Gaming on Feb. 13.

If made into law, the bill would make any sale of tobacco or vapor products to any person under 21 years old a gross misdemeanor, a legislative update from Harris stated earlier this month. 

“Too many minors are still getting ahold of these hazardous products,” Harris wrote in the update. “I feel strongly we need to do whatever we can to prevent stores from selling these products to minors.”

Harris’ seatmate saw his first bill get a hearing in committee last week. Freshman legislator Rep. Kevin Waters, R-Stevenson, introduced House Bill 1730 earlier this month. If signed into law, the bill would lower the age requirement for individuals working at a business with a liquor license in back-of-house jobs.

HB 1730 would allow workers as young as 18 years old to take on jobs as a dishwasher, cook, chef, sanitation specialist or other kitchen staff, lowering the age from 21. The bill is intended to help businesses hire more staff, a release from the Washington State Republicans stated.

“There are so many businesses, especially restaurants and bars, that can’t find and hold onto good help,” Waters stated in the release. “It would also open up more opportunities for individuals under 21 looking for work. So, this is a win-win for both job seekers and employers, and a win for Washington.”

The bill prohibits workers between the ages of 18 and 21 from working in the bar, lounge or dining area of a business, the release stated. Those workers can’t serve food, drinks, or otherwise interact with patrons, and must have a supervisor over 21 at all times, among other restrictions.

HB 1730 received a public hearing in the House Committee on Regulated Substances and Gaming on Feb. 9. It is scheduled for an executive session in that committee on Feb. 16, where it may be recommended to pass onto the House floor.