The Legislature ties up loose ends.

LIFE LESSON

What: HB 1765 would require school districts to get tough on "malicious harassment," the Legislature's expression for the taunting and threatening of sexual-minority students. The bill also protects straight kids from harassment based on race, gender, disability, or any other characteristic that might make someone the victim of prejudice. Each school district would implement its own policy on punishing such behavior. School administrators would have to explain the policy to students and post it conspicuously on school walls.

Who: Sen. Ed Murray, DCapitol Hill, who is openly gay but wants people to understand he works on lots of issues besides those affecting sexual minorities.

Chances: Blindingly bright. Murray says the bill has a whopping 65 sponsors, more than any other bill so far this session.

We say: What, could this be the same Legislature that also produced the Conservative Caucus? Why aren't the model citizens on that panel standing up to this assault on morality? Maybe because they got voted out of office. In their absence, and in the wake of the brutal murder of Matthew Shephard, legislators on both sides of the aisle are recognizing that homophobic violence is real.

DON'T PANIC

What: HB 1406 eliminates the Department of Licensing's authority to keep records of pistol purchases or transfers.

Who: Rep. Cathy McMorris, R-Colville

Chances: Strangely, it has chances.

We say: Paperwork reduction, not concealing pistol records, is Democrats' motive for supporting this. Since the Republicans eliminated the central database on gun purchases several years back, the DOL records, once procured, sit in boxes in a basement where they do nobody any good.

THE LEGISLATURE'S YEARLY GENEROSITY CHECKUP

What: HB 1301 would grant health care coverage to all kiddies living between 200 percent and 250 percent above the poverty line.

Who: Rep. Jeanne Edwards, D-Bothell

Chances: The prognosis is unclear at this time.

We say: There's no excuse for not supporting this bill.

WATER-RIGHTS QUAGMIRE

What: HB 1314 and SB 5289 comprise the governor's plan to conserve water, with an eye toward saving salmon. The bill is huge and complex—but, in brief, it makes the law clear where it previously has been murky about water rights. In particular, it makes water conservation mandatory and gives the Department of Ecology teeth to enforce it.

Who: Gov. Locke

Chances: Good

We say: Locke has done his homework and deserves a pat on the back. This will go a long way toward improving the state's water supply for fish, and for everyone else.

IN GOOD SPIRITS

What: HB 1675 would begin the process of ending the Liquor Control Board's involvement in the liquor retail and wholesale industries.

Who: Rep. Kathy Lambert, R-Woodinville

Chances: Unknown

We say: Yea!--in the interest of eliminating conflict of interest.

 
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