Rep. Norma Smith: Storylines of the 2020 legislative session
For the La Conner Weekly News
The 60-day legislative session began on January 13. While this is considered a short session, several important issues will be considered. Here are a few of the storylines:
As ranking member on the House Innovation, Technology and Economic Development Committee, I’m sponsoring legislation to address online data privacy for consumers. My goal for these bills is to empower consumers, hold corporations accountable and provide meaningful access to justice when needed to protect your rights.
- House Bill 2364 would enact a Charter of Personal Data Rights (CPDR).
- House Bill 2363 would declare that each person owns and has an exclusive property right to his or her biometric identifiers.
- House Bill 1503 would require all data brokers in Washington state to register annually with the state’s Office of Privacy and Data Protection, pay a registration fee, and provide information regarding how they collect, store and sell personal information.
It’s so important that our laws evolve to protect and safeguard our rights. We must create a construct of trust where we can actively participate in a digital economy.
The primary responsibility of the Legislature every even-numbered year is to pass supplemental operating, capital and transportation budgets – which are midcourse adjustments to these two-year budgets. These budgets fund important programs, services and projects across our state. I’ll continue to work in bipartisan fashion on the capital budget, building on our historic investments last year in mental and behavioral health issues.
A recent Crosscut/Elway Poll revealed one-third of people surveyed said social services is the most important issue facing the Legislature, with 31% citing homelessness. There is no question that homelessness is a crisis in our state – impacting urban, suburban and rural areas. It’s heartbreaking. I believe we must address this crisis in a comprehensive way – including substance abuse, untreated mental illness and affordable housing – if we are going to deliver the help that is needed.
$30 car tabs and transportation funding
Washingtonians told us in November they want $30 car tabs. The message was clear. Lawsuits have been filed to stop the initiative – resulting in higher car tabs remaining in place for now. I support legislation that would establish $30 car tabs, like Washingtonians have asked for, and would create a new, permanent transportation preservation and maintenance account. This funding would come from the state sales tax on motor vehicles, which currently goes into the state’s general fund. Our state can have both $30 car tabs and sustainable transportation funding – including critical resources for our marine highways.
New Speaker of the House
A new era in the Washington State House of Representatives is underway. Rep. Laurie Jinkins was elected as the first female Speaker of the House on the first day of session. She replaces longtime Speaker Frank Chopp. Speaker Jinkins said she wants to give committee chairs more power, so we’ll see how this ultimately impacts policy. She has also been a strong proponent of a state capital gains tax – another important issue to watch.
Please consider being part of the legislative process. I welcome your calls, emails and letters. My contact information can be found at: RepresentativeNormaSmith.com. You can also learn more at: leg.wa.gov.