Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope this legislative update finds you well and enjoying the holiday season. As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, I want to take a minute to update you on some of the things I have been working on since my last update.
Funding Education First
As I travel across the district it is clear to me that parents, teachers and administrators are looking to the Legislature to fully fund education. We have a mandate from both our constitution and our Supreme Court to prioritize K-12 education in Washington. Earlier this month I introduced a bill that would do just that. House Bill 1001 would require a stand-alone education budget be passed and sent to the governor’s desk by March 31st in biennial budget years and February 15th in supplemental budget years. Additionally, House Bill 1001 requires the governor to submit a separate education budget proposal to the Legislature with K-12 appropriations based on existing revenues and without assuming new taxes.
Passing a stand-alone education budget is good for Washington and our students. Fully funding the public education of our children is a duty we must take seriously. However, for too long our kids’ needs have taken a back seat to partisan politics in Olympia. This bill prioritizes our students, and provides school districts with budget predictability which is essential to planning for the needs of their community. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this bill the hearing it deserves.
Other bills of interest
I have long believed we need to have a serious conversation about reforming the way state government operates. In addition to my Fund Education First bill, I am also working on bills that would reform important aspects of our state government. First, I am working on a bill to end the practice of the state collecting sales tax on its own transportation projects. The money collected on these projects, which are bonded out for many years, is deposited back into the general fund. Not only does this inflate the cost of projects, it also reduces our ability to fund more projects across the state, including projects like the Belfair Bypass.
A second reform bill I am working on is critical for small businesses in our state. I have been working with members of leadership, staff and stakeholders on a proposal to modernize our business and occupation tax. Changes would provide flexibility and predictability for business owners, giving them a better chance to succeed and the opportunity to grow. I look forward to releasing more details in the coming weeks.
Finally, I am working on a bill which would end a requirement on health care providers that I believe is unnecessary and restricts patient’s access to care. Currently, state law requires certain providers to obtain what is called a Certificate of Need in order to open or expand treatment centers in Washington. The state determines whether facilities can expand in a community, adding an unnecessary layer of red tape to people’s health care choices. My bill removes the requirement for kidney dialysis centers because I believe we should be providing our most vulnerable citizens with more options for treatment.
For updates on these and other bills introduced during session, visit my Bill Sponsorship page.
New Committee Assignments
Last week I received my committee assignments for the next two years. I was named as the Ranking Member on the newly formed General Government and Information Technology Committee. This committee considers issues relating to the organization and structure of state government and audits of state government programs and agencies.
Additionally, I was appointed to serve on the Appropriations Committee. This committee considers the general operating budget and fiscal issues including pension related policies. I am grateful to House Republican Caucus leaders for entrusting me with this responsibility in just my second term. I look forward to working towards a sustainable operating budget that prioritizes state spending and does not raise taxes.
District Office Closing
With the 2015 session quickly approaching, my district office in Belfair is closing down and my staff is moving back to Olympia. If you have a question, concern or idea to share with me, please contact my Olympia office. I am always pleased to be of assistance!
Finally, from my family to yours, I wish you all a very merry Christmas, and a prosperous new year. I am honored to serve you in the Washington State House of Representatives, and I look forward to hearing from you on the issues that matter most in our communities.