Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Another legislative session is under way, and we have a lot of work to do. As you likely know by now, Democrats won a special election back in November, giving them control of the state Senate. They now hold slim majorities in both chambers (50-48 in the House, 25-24 in the Senate).
Based on the split control that has existed in the Legislature over the past five years, it is evident voters have wanted the two parties to work together. And that is largely what we have done. In this period of time, the House and Senate delivered some outstanding results for the people of Washington state.
Unfortunately, while the Legislature worked together in a bipartisan fashion, Gov. Inslee continued to advocate for policies that would irresponsibly increase spending and hike taxes. His 2018 supplemental operating budget proposal continues that trend. While the state is projected to have a $694 million ending fund balance by 2021 (consider this cash in the bank), the governor's budget proposal calls for spending that money, hiking taxes by $1.5 billion and taking $476 million from our state's rainy day fund. That is not a responsible budget.
I was also disappointed by the governor's State of the State address last week. He talked a lot about climate change, but did not mention a word about the state Supreme Court's Hirst decision, which has put the livelihoods of thousands of rural Washingtonians in serious jeopardy.
As long as a Hirst fix remains in limbo, an estimated $37 billion in property value will be lost, along with $6.9 billion in economic contributions — predominantly from those in rural areas. I believe the governor missed an opportunity to bring the Legislature together when he neglected to talk about Hirst, opting instead to only talk about the importance of passing a capital budget.
Let me be clear: House Republicans will not abandon rural residents by settling for a short-term Hirst fix. We want to pass a capital budget, but it is vital that we bring peace-of-mind and certainty to those who have been affected by this disastrous court ruling.
House Republican Reps. Vincent Buys and Jim Walsh wrote an op-ed in The Seattle Times last week on Hirst, which I encourage you to read. Here is an excerpt:
“We continue to work toward a permanent, bipartisan solution that would allow counties to rely on the state's designated water resource manager to determine the legal availability of water for the purposes of the Growth Management Act. This solution would remove the double layer of bureaucracy imposed by the state Supreme Court and allow a family to build a home based on a well report, as has historically been the case, instead of expensive and unnecessary hydrology studies.”
Once a solid Hirst fix is approved in both chambers and signed into law by the governor, we will be able to pass a capital budget. But not a second before.
Two major bills I have introduced this session
Below is a brief summary of two bills I have introduced this session. I welcome your feedback on them and look forward to discussing them with you further as session progresses.
House Bill 2260 would ban Atlantic salmon farming in marine waters regulated by Washington state. In August, a net pen containing 305,000 Atlantic salmon collapsed near Cypress Island, allowing more than half of the salmon to escape into Puget Sound. It was the fourth such incident since 1996. I believe enough is enough. It simply does not make sense to continue allowing Atlantic salmon farms to operate in our state. These salmon pose serious risks to our native Pacific salmon with regard to competition for resources, and also threaten the survival of Pacific juveniles. It is time to close these farms and put strong policies in place that allow our native salmon populations to thrive.
House Bill 2270 would bring an end to the Legislature's overreliance on special sessions by changing the state's fiscal year to coincide with the end of regular session. Special sessions are a waste of your time and money, and I find it embarrassing we've needed 10 of them in the past five years to complete our work. This bill will ensure we no longer use special sessions as a crutch year after year.
On air with KMAS's Jeff Slakey
Last session, I had the opportunity to appear weekly on Jeff Slakey's “Daybreak!” program on KMAS radio. I am happy to say I have that same opportunity again this year, and will be live on air with Jeff every Wednesday morning at 8:15 a.m. during session. To listen to these interviews, as well as my other audio, I invite you to visit my SoundCloud page. Here is last week's appearance on KMAS:
During the first week of session, I had the honor of sponsoring Evergreen Christian School student Benjamin Rogers as a page here in the state House. While serving as a page, Benjamin attended page school every day, delivered messages and documents to legislators and staff, and fulfilled other tasks critical to the efficient operation of the Legislature. Thank you for your service to the Legislature, Benjamin!
If you know of a student between the ages of 14 and 16 who is interested in becoming a legislative page, please send me an email and I will get in touch with more information.
In the interest of full transparency, I will be providing PDFs of my weekly meetings this session. Click here for a list of meetings I held or attended last week.
Every weekday morning, House Republican communications staff compiles the Capitol Buzz, a daily summary of online news clips from across the state, discussing policies and politics affecting Washington state. I believe it is a valuable resource and encourage you to sign up for it here.
Please feel free to contact me anytime with any questions, comments or concerns you may have. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and my phone number is (360) 786-7902. I look forward to hearing from you!
It is an honor to serve you in the state House.