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Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 9:39 p.m.

Inslee signs laws on alcohol, parking, tow trucks

OLYMPIA -- Gov. Jay Inslee approved more than two dozen new laws Tuesday, including changes to rules related to alcohol, electric-vehicle parking spots, tow truck fees and Electoral College representatives.
Here's a look at what some of the laws will do:
ALCOHOL TASTING: Some teenagers will be allowed to taste alcohol in certain classroom settings. The new law is designed to help students who are part of a culinary or alcohol-technology degree program. Students who are at least 18 years of age will be allowed to taste alcohol, but they must spit it out. An approved faculty or staff member must supervise the tasting.
ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Drivers who improperly park in spaces reserved for electric vehicles now face a $124 penalty. The law is aimed at preventing gas-consuming cars from taking up electric-vehicle spaces. Drivers of electric vehicles may also face a fine if they park in the dedicated spots and don't connect their vehicles to the charging equipment. Supporters say some drivers of electric vehicles are finding that the specialized parking spots are occupied. Under the law, charging stations must be marked with a sign.
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORS: Washington state's Electoral College representatives will now qualify for a larger per diem and compensation for mileage for doing the job. The previous law was enacted in the 1800s, providing only a $5 daily per diem and compensation of 10 cents per mile. Under the new law, compensation would be aligned with the rules for state officials. That is currently a maximum stipend of $61 a day for meals, $88 for lodging and 56.5 cents per mile. Presidential electors gather in Olympia after presidential elections, with the representatives of the winning political party casting the state's 12 official votes for president.
TOW TRUCK FEES: The state is moving to further cap fees charged by tow truck companies. When working with private property owners, tow truck companies will only be allowed to charge a maximum of up to about $270 to tow a vehicle and impound it for half a day and another $60 for storage per day thereafter. Currently, the Washington State Patrol sets limits on how much tow truck drivers contracting with it can charge for their services, but there haven't been any limits on tow truck operators contracting with private property owners. Supporters say it will stop the practice of tow truck operators charging in some cases more than $1,000 for their services.

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