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Legislators discuss state holidays and data.
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Legislators discuss state holidays and data.

House Bill 1485, if passed, would give Washington a new holiday celebrating Women’s Suffrage Day. It also included the federal 19th Amendment. This was one item on the agenda of legislators on Jan. 10.

Washington was the 35th State that had to ratify Amendment 19 of the U.S. Constitution. It granted women the right vote. House Bill 1485 would allow the state of Washington to be a role-model for others by recognizing the history and hardships of Americans.

This bill, along with others, recognizes state holidays. Legislators passed House Bill 1016 in the last legislative session to make Juneteenth a state holiday.

Juneteenth, which falls on June 19, marks the end of the Civil War and the liberation of slaves in the United States. Legislators were left scrambling to fix the holes in HB 1016 in the last years.

Separate from HB1016, an RCW code includes a list indicating Washington’s school holidays. Juneteenth was not included. Jason Zolle, counsel for the House State Government & Tribal Relations Committee, stated that HB 1617 corrects this so Juneteenth can be included.

Rep. Melanie Morgan, D. Tukwila, stated that African Americans’ history deserves to be celebrated. The state should not forget the struggle that Black Americans have fought since the liberation of American slaves.

When addressing House Bill 1485, legislators were keen to remember the struggles of minorities for equality. Many people were hesitant to pass a bill celebrating women’s suffrage, as the rights of minorities weren’t considered in the 19th Amendment’s ratification.

Lobbyist Michael Moran testified for HB1485. However, he called for recognition that the voting franchise, which women, minorities, and others fought to keep, should be recognized.

Moran said that although some may consider these to be painful events in American history they have brought us here today. He suggested that we should embrace them as steps towards a stronger, more vibrant country.

Janie White (Vice President of Washington Education Association) echoed the thoughts of others by asking that all women be considered when choosing a holiday day if the legislation is passed.

Data privacy is another topic that legislators are interested in. House Bill 1552 bans the state from selling personal data to third-parties. The bill also requires state agencies that inform citizens about data being collected.

Several people testified in favor and against HB 1552. Rep. Matt Boehnke of Kennewick stated that people must train and educate individuals in order to ensure data is collected correctly and stored correctly.

Data should not be misused by agencies or third parties; Boehnke stated that it should be disposed after the intended purpose. Washington should set an example for other states in data protection.

Insurers expressed concern over HB1552. They stated that the industry relies on public records from third-parties for a variety services.

Data is used for many services that society depends on, including law enforcement, construction bidders, and the department licensing. Eric Ellman, from the Consumer Data Industry Association, stated that insurance companies would not be able to accurately rate someone if they didn’t have this data.

Rep. Jim Walsh (R-Aberdeen) said that the state must draw a line. Many people are concerned about data privacy, regardless of whether essential industries rely on it.

Walsh suggested that if this bill is not passed, Walsh asked how can we address consumer concerns about the protection of their personal information.

The House State Government & Tribal Relations Committee received testimony for House Bill 1518 regarding the environmental standards for paper products.

Legislation has required state agencies to buy 100% recyclable copy paper since 2009. However, House Bill 1518 gives agencies another option.

Zolle said that if passed, state agencies might be able to buy paper that requires 40% less carbon dioxide to make than conventional copy papers.

According to Rep. Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver), the state has a contract with two paper companies, Officemax and a woman-owned company in the Tri-Cities. She stated that the state needs to be flexible when allowing companies to meet higher standards.

North Pacific Paper Company, one of the largest North American paper mills, has contracts across the U.S. Chief Executive Officer Craig Anneberg, and Tom Crowley, co-president, testified in support HB 1518. They stated the company’s ability to produce this option.

Crowley stated that NORPAC, the owner of the northwest processing plants, is in discussions with both companies about HB 1518. They have the resources to meet the demand for environmentally friendly paper.

NORPAC has sold natural choice paper for over $100 million in the last five years. Crowley claimed that the state could make savings of between $1 million and $1.5 million by switching to natural paper.

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