Olympia this week: Rhino horns, medical pot and more

Expect a big crowd when the Legislature looks at merging the medical pot into the recreational marijuana system.
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The State Capitol

Expect a big crowd when the Legislature looks at merging the medical pot into the recreational marijuana system.

It doesn't get much more exotic than this in the Washington Legislature: Lawmakers will hold hearings this week on whether to ban the sales and trades of rhinoceros horns and ivory from elephants.

Rhino horns are used in some traditional medicine systems and for carved ornaments. Demand for the horns and ivory from elephant tusks has led to the decimation of both those species by hunters.

Under twin bills by Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, and Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife would be able to issue licenses for the sales and trade of rhino horns and ivory in limited cases, including for cases where the materials make up less than 5 percent of the volume of an item, and where the item is least 100 years old. Other allowances could be made for educational or scientific purposes, for inherited items, and for musical instruments with ivory if the items were made prior to 1976.

The House hearing will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday on front of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee. The Senate Natural Resources & Parks Committee will hold its hearing at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Legislature's week will be dominated by hearings on policy bills, with most budget-oriented legislation still weeks away. Here are this week's high points:


There will be a 1:30 p.m. hearing in the House Education Committee on whether to expand the College in High School program to allow 10th graders to take classes for both high school and college credits.

In another 1:30 p.m. hearing, the House Environment Committee will consider a bill by Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, to ban the use of certain chemicals as flame retardants in children's products and upholstered furniture.


The Senate Government Operations Committee will hold a 10 a.m. hearing on a bill by Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, to increase the transparency of political donations by non-profit groups.


The House Technology & Economic Development Committee will hold an 8 a.m. hearing on a bill by Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, to ban private drones from using cameras, audio equipment or other sensors to collect information from private parties without permission.


This hearing will be swamped with people: The Senate Health Care Committee will get public input on at 10 a.m. on a bill by Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, to merge the recreational and medical marijuana regulatory systems. The same session will include a hearing on a bill by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, to create a marijuana research license.

At 1:30 p.m., the Senate Environment, Energy & Telecommunications Committee will be briefed on oil transportation safety matters. The Democrats and Republican have competing bills in play on this issue.


The House Public Safety Committee will consider a bill by Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, to create a "Silver Alert" system for missing elderly people with mental health problems, similar to an Amber Alert for missing children.


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About the Authors & Contributors

John Stang

John Stang

John Stang is a freelance writer who often covers state government and the environment. He can be reached on email at johnstang_8@hotmail.com and on Twitter at @johnstang_8