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Governor begins process of signing bills into law

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee has signed five bills into law this legislative session with another bill scheduled for signing today (Thursday).

The bills cover everything from budget appropriations to jury service, and include the authorization of the new WSU medical school.

Two of the bills sailed through the legislature with no opposition while the other three faced minor objections.

The first uncontested bill authorizes the awarding of the state’s Medal of Valor to a group of persons instead of only to an individual.

The prime sponsor, Sen. Kirk Pearson, said many of the people who responded to the Oso landslide deserved to be recognized, but it would be more appropriate to recognize them as a group instead of as individuals.

The bill passed the senate 47-0 and the house 97-0 and was signed by the governor on March 2. It took effect immediately.

The other uncontested bill reduces the maximum jury term from one month to two weeks, and reduces the maximum jury service, except to complete a trial, from two weeks to one week. The bill does not affect counties with a jury pool of less than 70,000 people.

The goal is to reduce the impact of jury duty on potential jurors, making it more likely that people will respond. It also will have the effect spreading out the selection to more people in the population as the jury pool shrinks due to people serving the maximum terms.

The bill passed the house 98-0 and the house 48-0. The governor signed it into law on April 1. It will take effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session, April 26.

Inslee also signed a bill that authorizes WSU to establish, operate and maintain a school of medicine. Although the bill did not face outright opposition, concerns about the effect on UW’s medical school, including its campus in Spokane, were brought up in hearings.

In addition to allowing WSU to establish a medical school, the bill also allows WSU to offer forestry as a major line of study.

The bill passed the house 81-17 and the senate 47-1. It was signed into law on April 1 and takes effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session.

Another bill signed into law limits the amount of time the court has to determine if a criminal defendant is incompetent to stand trial. Existing law set performance targets, but did not establish maximums. The new law keeps the original seven-day targets but requires the evaluations to happen within 14 days.

The bill passed the senate 48-1 and the house 84-14. It was signed by the governor on March 12 and will be phased in over the next year.

The final bill already signed was an appropriations bill that provides funding to handle fires and disasters, supports children and family services, and bolsters the state’s mental health services.

The bill was passed 89-8 in the house and 46-0 in the senate. It was signed into law Feb. 19 and took effect immediately.

This morning (Thursday) Inslee was slated to sign Senate Bill 5532, which will remove the limit on the number of Gift of Life awards the state can give out each year. The award is given to the families of organ donors. The award honors the “...greatest act of kindness in donating organs to save the lives of others.”

The bill passed the senate 48-0 and the house 96-1. It will become effective 90 days after it is signed into law.

Tomorrow, April 17, Inslee is scheduled to take action on 27 more bills.

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