Dear Friends and Neighbors,
In my last email update, I mentioned how unlikely it was that we'd be able to finish our work on time due to the vast differences in the operating budget proposals on the table. Unfortunately, budget negotiations between the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus and the House Democrats have not been fruitful, which means we'll soon be heading into our 14th special session since 2010.
I want you to know I share your frustration with our habitual need for these overtime sessions, which is why I introduced House Joint Resolution 4205 earlier this session. HJR 4205 would have suspended my pay, and the pay of every other legislator, for failing to present an operating budget proposal to the governor by the time the clock ran out on the regular session. Some may view this as gimmicky, but I take this issue very seriously. We should be able to complete our work in the 105 days we've been given. Why we continue to fail to do so is beyond me.
House Bill 1046 rolled into Senate Bill 5639
House Bill 1046, my bill to delink state tests from high school graduation requirements, has been rolled into Senate Bill 5639. If this bill becomes law, not only will a weight be lifted off the shoulders of our students, but the state will save tens of millions of dollars over the next decade. As I've said before, we should rely less on these federally designed tests, and more on the curriculum and our great teachers to prepare our students for the next stages of life.
Navy Appreciation Day at the Capitol
As a Navy veteran, it's always an honor to celebrate Navy Appreciation Day at the Capitol. Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to deliver remarks on the House floor in support of House Resolution 4637, recognizing the contributions of Navy personnel and their family members. I spoke about the importance of our Navy and highlighted some of its many accomplishments, while also mentioning the need for our nation to have a strong Naval presence around the globe. I also talked about my two sons who are currently serving in the Marine Corps, which falls under the administration of the Department of the Navy. I couldn't be prouder of them, and was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take a photo with my son, Christian, on the House floor earlier this month.
Left: With my son, Christian, on the House floor.
Right: Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, and I with U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Gary Mayes and five distinguished 'sailors of the year' from their respective commands.
House Page Program in full swing
Since late March, I've sponsored four students from the 35th District as House pages. Sebastian Engel and Clairee Waylett are students at Oakland Bay Junior High School in Shelton, Ian Connolly attends Washington Middle School in Olympia, and Taylor Dickinson attends North Mason High School in Belfair. They're all great students, and I appreciate their service to the House!
Top L-R: Sebastian Engel and Clairee Waylett
Bottom L-R: Ian Connolly and Taylor Dickinson
I also had the opportunity to expand my reach 5,000 miles beyond the county's border to sponsor two European students as House pages last week. Monika Motyka from Poland and Hanna Bluem from Germany are currently spending 10 months in the United States as foreign exchange students. They're being hosted by Kevin and Catherine Shutty of Shelton, and attending North Mason High School. Kevin was my public information officer before being elected Mason County Commissioner last fall. He and Catherine are both dear friends, and I can't imagine two better people for Monika and Hanna to be staying with.
In the week they spent serving in the House Page Program, I could tell Monika and Hanna were wowed by the campus and excited to learn more about how our system of government works. I wanted them to share a little bit with you about their experience, so we recorded this video update up in the House gallery. Take a look:
I also had them write down some thoughts on the week.
“When I first heard about the House Page Program a few months ago, I couldn't wait to participate and learn more about American government and politics. I would never have the opportunity to experience a program like this in Poland. During the week, I learned about how a bill becomes law and what an average day for a state representative looks like. It's interesting to see what challenges they have to face every day. I got to meet a lot of new people who inspired me in different ways, and will always be grateful for the opportunity I had to serve as a page. It was a fantastic adventure.” – Monika
“The House Page Program is an amazing and unique experience for teenagers. I learned more in one day here than I usually learn in a week at school. The process of how a bill becomes law is complex, but serving as a page, you can see how each part of the process unfolds. That makes it easier to understand. When I delivered messages and documents to legislators and staff, I got to meet so many people and see every corner of this beautiful campus. It was just an amazing experience.” – Hanna
It's an honor to serve you in the state House. Please feel free to contact me any time with your questions, comments or concerns. My contact information is below.