Posted by: sweeneyblog | February 14, 2015

Rep. Kris Lytton’s 2015 Legislative Proposals

Last year was a frustrating year for many Democratic legislators, as the Republican-controlled Senate formed an almost impenetrable blockade against legislation from the House. That did not stop Rep. Kris Lytton (D-Anacortes) from bringing a fresh slew of bills to the table in 2015.

Rep. Kris Lytton

Rep. Kris Lytton

Lytton has recently ascended to Majority Floor Leader in the House, where she works with the Speaker of the House on scheduling votes for important legislation. She makes sure that they make it through the proper committees and out the door before key deadlines.

However these added responsibilities have not diminished her legislative output. As to be expected from the former School Board president, most of Lytton’s proposals involve Education. As always, click on the bill number to see the original text of the bill.

Sidenote: Last year, I made the mistake of referring to some of Lytton’s bills as “boring”. They are not, many of them tackle thorny issues and key fixes to our legislative code. That said, the issues are not always thrilling so I’ve added some exciting titles to help punch them up a bit.


HB1950 – “Death to the Science Test for Graduation!” Obviously, that is not the official title for this bill but what it does is eliminate the science portion of the standardized testing requirement to graduate high school. Currently an End of Course biology test, based on the Common Core guidelines (AAGHH!!), is required for all high school students graduating in 2015 – this bill, requested by the State Board of Education, would remove that requirement.

Riley, I swear, if you call my bills "boring" again . . .

Riley, I swear, if you call my bills “boring” again . . .

When I graduated high school in 2004, schools were aggressively increasing the number of standardized tests required for graduation. By the time my younger brother graduated, he was required to pass a whole battery of test (called WASLs then) that took weeks out of the classroom and did little to enhance our understanding of the material.

Now we are seeing the pendulum swing back as the state struggles to find alternative methods for assessing learning. This bill is another skirmish in that ongoing struggle.

HB1743 – “Can’t I Just Take the GED with Paper and Pencil?” Last year, our community and technical colleges switched over to assessing the GED (now called the High School Equivalency or HSE) via computer. This bill would require an option that is low cost, does not require computer proficiency and still is appropriate for the people seeking a HSE diploma. This bill is listed as a “priority” for the Washington Education Association.

HB1345 – “No, ‘Juggling Goslings’ is not an appropriate training course for teachers.” Educators have to go through a chalkboard-ton of professional development courses. However, they do not always provide a great deal of benefit. This bill sets a statewide standards for what qualifies as training courses for teachers and principals and defines goals for that training. A prudent move.

Local Stuff

HB1868 – “County Road Funds Should Apply to Water Stuff in the San Juans”. This bill is remarkably straightforward. Co-sponsored by Rep. Jeff Morris (D-Mount Vernon), this bill would allow Counties that are made up of Islands (i.e. San Juan and Island Counties) to use their County Road funds for things like bridges, buoys, docks and the like, since most of their residents use those instead of roads to get around.

Rep. Kris Lytton

Reps. Morris and Lytton

HB1793 – “Let’s Get this Skagit River Basin Inflow Issue Worked Out.” Rural property owners in Skagit and the Department of Ecology have been crossing swords over the Inflow rules for the Skagit River Basin which restricts drilling wells. This bill would allow local municipalities to develop their own rules on alternative water sources (think Rain Barrels, Water Tanks, etc) for potable water that would give property owners a few more options.

“I’ve been working with the Skagit Public Utility District, the Swinomish Tribe, state agencies and others to come up with alternatives to wells,” Lytton said. “Some people want to fight the basin’s instream flow restrictions and the courts; I’d rather find solutions.”

HB1631 “Tribes, Treaties, Taxes and Trust Land.” This is another absurdly specific but very important bill. Currently, the Governor can enter into agreements with some tribes over the proceeds from our Fuel Taxes. This bill would extend that option to tribes that meet the following criteria:

a) currently have land places in a Government trust,
b) located west of the Cascade Mountains
c) have the county has between 118,000 and 225,000 residents

See what I mean about absurdly specific? I’m guessing some preliminary discussions have taken place and this is just making sure that they can go forward without running afoul of current state law. UPDATE: We’ve narrowed it down to the Samish Tribe. Good detective work team!

Other Oddities

HB1742 – “Making Lots of Strawberry Jam in my Kitchen.” This bill is a repeat from the last couple of years. It concerns the “Cottage Food” industry, which is a fancy way of saying people who make agricultural products in their home. Currently, you cannot make more than $15,000 of income this way without having a whole slew of requirements kick in (stricter health inspections, labeling requirements, etc).

Cider versus Wine? Hmmm . . .

Cider versus Wine? Hmmm . . .

This bill boosts that cap to $25,000 but removes the automatic increases it was enjoying and allows the Department of Agriculture to raise that limit without legislative approval through their rulemaking process. Don’t worry, there are only 76 people in Washington that qualify for this, but I’m guessing one of them lives in the 40th district.

HB1179 – “Cider is not Wine.” Currently, alcoholic Cider producers are required to pay dues to the Washington Wine Association. This bill would remove that requirement, resulting in the wine commission losing around $25,000 a year. Will Cider producers take this newly-freed up cash and use it to send me free liquor? A blogger can only dream.

HR4606 – “Aren’t County Fairs Great?!” This was a House Resolution (aka “Strongly-Worded Letter”) recognizing the value and importance of our local fairs. It passed earlier in this session with a dunk-tank full of co-sponsors.

That’s all for now. As we move through this legislative session, I’ll let you know which bills survived and which ones died a quiet death in committee. Next up, a closer look at Sen. Doug Ericksen’s legislation and yes, it is just as horrifying as you might think.



  1. Rep. Kris Lytton “rocks”. Almost makes me want to move to the 40th.

    • Yeah…we need more Judy’s in the 40th. I know a great house for sale in the 40th.

  2. Represenative Kris Lytton’s greatest contributions have been in helping to keep several very bad bills from getting to the floor of the house.

  3. Riley, can you check the tribal numbers in that bill toward the end? Lummi is a big tribe and would have a hard time with 15%. Did you cut some explanation or add too many zeros? And on HB 1868 you are talking about San Juan County but clearly state Island county. I like to forward you, but perhaps not til later today.

    • Checked the tribal numbers – they are accurate.

      You are right about the Island/San Juan County mix up. Fixing that now.

      • The number in HB1631 refers to the population of the county, rather than the number of tribal members. From the bill analysis:
        “…with lands held in trust in a county…with a population of at least one hundred eighteen thousand, but less than two hundred fifty thousand…”

      • Thank you – I figured we were missing something. That limits it to just Whatcom County, so with the specificity of this bill, it looks like it is aimed at helping the Samish Tribe (since Lummi and Nooksack are already eligible).

    • Lori,

      I believe the bill addresses both Island and San Juan Counties.

      The Fuel Tax Bill is not about the Lummi Nation. I believe it is about the Salish.

  4. Not so Boring this year?
    Thanks for admitting that, Riley.
    Kris has always served the people at the local level and appears to continue that in this years session. What you have outlined in her bills makes perfect sense. Thanks!

  5. Riley, you just need to boost your wonk factor up as high as your nerd factor!

  6. Sweenyblog – Whatcom or Skagit County? You are correct – It is for Samish – that was clear in the testimony. Bill 1631 Go to TvW video.

  7. […] always, you can click on the bill number to read the original legislation. You can also see my breakdown of Rep. Kris Lytton (D-Anacortes) and Rep. Vincent Buys (R-Lynden) […]

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