Six “good little bills” for smarter government

“This is a good little bill,” legislators like to say on the floor when they’re urging their colleagues to vote yes. It’s a common Olympia-ism that evolved from a catchphrase to a pat cliché to a standing joke (they’re all good little bills to someone).

But “good little bill” is an apt description for some ideas in Olympia. They may not always involve world-changing legislation, and often just mean tweaks or changes that save money and improve government functions.

I want to highlight six good ideas from House Republicans to make state government better. Being in the minority means Republicans aren’t running the show in the House, but compared to D.C., Olympia is still a place where legislators largely work together in a bipartisan way. Every legislator has the opportunity to pass legislation that matters to them.

Here are six good ideas making their way through the process this year:

  • HB 2040Initiating a campaign to increase veteran employment
    Prime sponsored by freshman Rep. Gina McCabe of Goldendale, this bill has already passed the House and Senate. Younger veterans are experiencing higher unemployment than the general population. Rather than financial incentives for veteran hiring, this bill will encourage businesses, with coordination between the Department of Veteran Affairs and local chambers of commerce, to hire at least one veteran.
  • HB 1485Concerning family medicine residencies in health professional shortage areas
    Underserved areas, especially rural areas, have an acute need for more doctors in family practice. The Tri-Cities’ Rep. Larry Haler is pushing a bill that makes improvements to how medical students are assigned to residencies around the state, with an emphasis on creating new slots in underserved areas.
  • HB 1851Creating an expedited permitting and contracting process for bridges owned by local governments that are deemed structurally deficient
    We’ve covered on SGW Hans Zeiger’s idea to allow the state to move more quickly on permits for replacing state-owned bridges that are deemed structurally deficient. Rep. Dave Hayes of Whidbey Island saw a similar need at the local level and introduced this bill to allow cities and counties to take the money- and time-saving approach to replacing unsafe bridges.
  • HB 1059Concerning sexually violent predators
    Susan Fagan of Pullman sponsored this bill, requested by the Attorney General’s Office, after learning of a sexually violent predator who was released from McNeil Island and moved back to the 9th Legislative District in Eastern Washington, near where his victims live. HB 1059 would require sexually violent predators who are petitioning to be released from McNeil Island to actually participate in sex offender-focused treatment and be evaluated by government experts, not just their own chosen experts.
  • HB 2093Concerning wildland fire suppression
    Many believe last year’s devastating Carlton Complex fire, the largest wildfire in state history, could have been contained more quickly. Joel Kretz, himself a landowner in the Carlton fire area, is backing this bill that would authorize private citizens to enter public or private land in a fire emergency to extinguish a wildland fire. The bill also requires the Department of Natural Resources to appoint a local liaison to represent area residents’ concerns when the agency is fighting a wildfire.
  • HB 2012 – Concerning the implementation of practical design by the Department of Transportation
    “Practical design” is a highway design approach that emphasizes practical, cost-saving solutions. Community feedback is included early in the project scoping process so obvious needs are not overlooked and then added in, at greater expense, later. Kalama’s Ed Orcutt has a bill that simply requires WSDOT to use principles of practical design to help bring down highway project costs.
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Rob McKenna
Rob served two terms as Washington’s Attorney General, from 2005 to 2013. He successfully argued three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and negotiated three of the largest consumer financial protection settlements in national history, all involving mortgage lending and servicing. He is a recognized leader in the development of consumer protections on the internet, in data protection and privacy regulation.