Legislative briefs

Pot and jobs

Washington marijuana users won’t face losing their job over a positive drug test if a proposal in the state Legislature wins approval.

Senate Bill 5517 would update the law that allows employers to turn-away job applicants and fire employees for testing positive for marijuana. Prime sponsor Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, said employment laws must be reformed to accommodate recreational legalization of the drug.

Proponents argue the change is needed because drug screenings measure exposure to the drug rather than impairment.

Opponents argue weakening drug-screening regulations would lead to more workplace accidents, with liability falling on employers.

Housing density

Forcing higher densities in Washington’s cities would help reduce housing costs, cut fuel emissions and put an end to exclusionary zoning, supporters of House Bill 1782 say.

Critics say it would require significant overhauls in city infrastructure and reduce local control of housing options.

The bill addresses the “missing middle,” housing options that exist between single-family homes and apartment complexes, such as duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes. The bill requires cities to allow middle housing in every zone where single family homes are allowed.

Supporters say it’s an efficient way to meet Washington’s housing demand. Gov. Jay Inslee showed his support, saying it “will remove antiquated barriers to the creation of more housing in our cities.”

Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus said she was concerned with the bill’s requirements on the number of dwelling units per acre. She said it wouild be difficult for cities to overhaul all utility, transportation, housing and capital facility elements to accommodate more density.