Political Buzz

Talking WA politics.

NOTICE: Political Buzz has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Political Buzz.
Visit the new section.

Tag: Jeanne Kohl-Welles

March
23rd

Legislature moves forward on medical marijuana bill

Through complex amendments and Republican opposition, the state Legislature is pushing forward on a bill that would change Washington’s medical marijuana laws, a move supporters said could bring clarity to a confusing system.

Senate Bill 5073, which would set up a voluntary patient registry and license medical marijuana dispensaries passed the House Health Care and Wellness Committee in a 6-5, mostly-partisan vote Wednesday, with some applauding it as a way to better oversee marijuana-use in Washington and others worrying that it could lead to abuse of the system.

“Right now we have such ambiguity in our law regarding our protection for authorized medical marijuana patients, and I hate to see that,” said Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, a Seattle Democrat and the bill’s primary sponsor.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Washington since voters approved Initiative 692 in 1998, but that law left some grey area around how people who qualify to use medical marijuana can get it.

Under the rule, patients are allowed to grow limited amounts of medical marijuana for themselves or designate a provider to grow it for them. But marijuana providers are only allowed to give the drug out to one patient at a time, and some have interpreted this to mean that dispensaries, or businesses that sell medical marijuana, are illegal.

Senate Bill 5073 would authorize dispensaries to operate in Washington, but they would have to get a license through the state Health Department.

Read more »

Feb.
24th

Sweeping bill would end virtually all tax breaks

A long-awaited bill that carves up the state tax code and gores just about every ox imaginable has been unveiled.

Hundreds of tax breaks would be phased out under Senate Bill 5857, introduced by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles with a tip of the hat to a fellow Seattle Democrat, Rep. Reuven Carlyle, for crafting the legislation.

Kohl-Welles said in a news release that eliminating most exemptions to the sales tax and ending special business-and-occupation tax rates would save about $8 billion over eight years. There is not yet an official estimate of the bill’s cost.

The bill is unlikely to

Read more »

Feb.
22nd

Senate approves beer and wine sampling at farmers’ markets

Beer and wine samples could be coming soon to a farmers’ market near you under a bill that the state Senate passed today.

In a 41-4 vote, the Senate passed Senate Bill 5029, a measure by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles that would set up a pilot project, monitored by the Liquor Control Board, to allow farmers market vendors to offer samples of Washington wines and microbrews.

“I think this bill is very helpful for consumers,” said Kohl-Welles, a Seattle Democrat. “It introduces us to different products that we may not otherwise even know about.”

Because the wines for sale at farmers

Read more »

Feb.
10th

Expansions of movie tax break advance

House and Senate committees today unanimously approved renewing the tax credit for movie and TV production in Washington.

What’s more, both panels agreed to enlarge the $3.5-million-per-year credit, though not by as much as had originally been proposed by the committees’ chairwomen, Seattle Democrats Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney.

The House bill would phase in an expansion of the credit to $5.5 million a year, starting with $4 million this year. The Senate bill would go farther, increasing the credit right away to $5 million and phasing in an expansion to $8 million.

“We want TV shows. We

Read more »

Feb.
7th

Bill by Sen. White targets flavored tobacco products

Some flavored tobacco products might not be around in Washington for much longer.

Senate Bill 5380, which had a hearing Monday in Olympia, would ban some kinds of tobacco products in the state, a move that the measure’s supporters say will keep kids off nicotine but opponents say will hurt the economy and limit free choice.

“Limiting tobacco products that are particularly appealing to young people—the flavored and the candy-like—is a major step toward our goal of keeping all kids from starting to use tobacco,” said Secretary of Health Mary Selecky.

She argued that young people are curious about tobacco products that taste good and people who start using a nicotine product before they are 18 are more likely to use tobacco for the rest of their lives, driving up healthcare costs in the state.

The bill would ban tobacco products that have an aroma or flavor other than tobacco or menthol, that are marketed as such or that come in dissolvable, capsule form. It would also require all tobacco products to be displayed somewhere they are not directly accessible to buyers and it would allow county-level jurisdictions to pass tobacco regulations that are stricter than state ones.

According to the bill’s fiscal note, it would lead to a loss of tax revenue of about $21 million for the state in the 2011-13 biennium, though supporters of the bill said that the health benefits of keeping young people off tobacco would offset those losses.

Tobacco retailers in the state argued that they were saddled with enough restrictions already and that the Legislature should focus on enforcing existing laws, which prohibit anyone under 18 from buying tobacco, if their goal was to keep flavored tobacco products away from children.

Read more »

Jan.
13th

Women’s Groups lobby for Sen. Kohl-Welles’ human trafficking bills

A coalition of women’s groups came to Olympia Thursday to tell legislators that Washington needs to take a second look at its anti-human trafficking laws and find ways to make them easier to enforce.

Participants in the event, who included representatives from Soroptimist International, the Polaris Project and the University of Washington Women’s Center, came to push bills Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles is drafting that would give police stronger tools to enforce human trafficking laws and provide victims of trafficking with more help.

“We’re working on bills that will be introduced to help police officers get convictions,” said Judy Norton of Zonta International, a group participating in the event. “We have some pretty strong laws now, but we need to be able to get convictions.”

Read more »