State senate panel flexes muscle, blocks 5 gun bills Republicans in Senate committee rejected a group of gun-control bills that Democrats have been pushing. By MIKE BAKER OLYMPIA — A Senate committee led by firearm-friendly lawmakers blocked five gun-control bills Friday, suggesting this year’s momentum related to weapons laws may not be enough to win passage. Members of the Law and Justice Committee voted to reject a variety of proposals, including one that would have created a task force to study weapon violence and another that would have created a specific crime for people who leave out loaded guns for children to access. Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, expressed frustration after the hearing, saying the majority on the committee was stuck in “mindless, rigid refusal” that rejects even common-sense ideas. “They are in such rigid refusal, they just can’t see it,” Kline said. Kline said he suspected that if the Connecticut school massacre hadn’t happened recently, his proposal related to child access to guns would have passed unanimously. Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, chairs the committee and decided not to hold public hearings on many of the gun proposals. Democrats moved to take votes on the measures ahead of Friday’s deadline for policy bills, and Padden argued that the bills should be rejected because they didn’t have a proper public debate. “We haven’t had a hearing to hear both sides on this,” Padden said on Democratic Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles’ proposal on child access to guns. Kohl-Welles noted that her bill had 24 sponsors in the Senate, including two Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom. The state House is working on a plan to expand background checks, with the help of a Republican lawmaker who works as a police officer, providing perhaps the best hope for gun-control supporters who have worked on such a bill for years. Padden said he wasn’t sure whether that bill would get a hearing in his committee. Sen. Pam Roach, a Republican lawmaker on the Law and Justice Committee, had spoken positively about the first bill considered — a plan that would allow law-enforcement agencies to store weapons if people voluntarily surrender them for a period of time. But when it came time to vote, Roach paused before casting the deciding vote to reject the bill. Roach then left the committee room for the remainder of the votes, leaving the bills to die on 3-3 ties. Roach did not immediately return a call seeking comment after the hearing. Assault-weapons ban dead in state Legislature Posted by Brian M. Rosenthal It’s cutoff day in Olympia, which theoretically (more on that in a minute) means that non-fiscal bills that don’t make it out of committee in either the state House or Senate today cannot be passed this session. There is no cutoff for bills deemed necessary to implement the budget, which means that sponsors of bills having to do with money don’t really have anything to sweat about yet. And even seemingly non-fiscal bills have a way of being brought back from the dead as part of a deal at the end of the session — either by being declared somehow necessary to implement the budget or through a procedural maneuver. Still, it’s a somewhat important day for determining whether proposals have a real shot at passage. Here’s one thing we can say: The proposed ban on so-called assault weapons, introduced to much fanfare by Senate Minority Leader Ed Murray, D-Seattle, appears done for. The House Judiciary Committee, which Democrats run and has produced most of the gun-control proposals this session — including a universal background-check bill — does not have another meeting scheduled today. The Republican-controlled Senate Law and Justice Committee does have a meeting this afternoon, but even Democrats acknowledge the assault-weapons ban doesn’t have a chance there. “There wasn’t broad enough consensus for it to have a chance of passage,” said state Sen. Nick Harper, D-Everett, who is coordinating gun legislation for the Senate Democratic Caucus. Harper noted that the assault-weapons bill was not among the caucus’ priority proposals. None of those got a hearing in the Senate, but some are alive by virtue of getting through a House committee. The so-called assault-weapons ban has been a focus among some Democrats across the country, who see it as a needed response to the school shooting in Connecticut. Murray, who is running for Seattle mayor, has said the effort may take several sessions.