Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As you may have heard, earlier this month, Rep. Dan Kristiansen announced he would not be seeking reelection. Dan has served as House Republican Leader for the past five years, and has spent more than 15 years serving his constituents in the 39th District. I have a lot of respect for Dan, and admire how much he's done for our caucus, the Legislature, and the state as a whole. It was an honor to serve with him, and I wish him and his family the best.
Following Dan's announcement, our caucus had an election to determine new leadership positions. Rep. J.T. Wilcox was elected leader, while Rep. Drew Stokesbary was elected to replace him as floor leader. That left a vacancy for the assistant floor leader position, which I ran for and was elected to.
In my new role, I will help manage debate on the House floor, and represent our caucus in negotiations with opposition floor leaders. I will also provide input in leadership meetings about legislative strategy and policy decisions. I'm looking forward to it, and am grateful for the opportunity.
Three of my bills signed into law
Three of my bills received overwhelming support in the House and Senate this year, and were recently signed into law by the governor.
House Bill 1022 will codify into state law existing federal law to ensure law enforcement agencies provide timely assistance to crime victims. Because of this bill, monsters who prey on the vulnerable will no longer be able to escape justice for months and years on end.
House Bill 1058 will ensure criminal offenders pay court-ordered restitution to their victims while they are incarcerated. Under the bill, courts are prohibited from granting postponement of an offender's restitution payments. This means crime victims, many of whom have suffered significant financial losses, will at least have some money coming their way to help with the purchase of basic necessities.
House Bill 2261 affirms counties have a legal right to provide support to local housing authorities. I introduced this bill after learning from former state Rep. Kathy Haigh — now chair of the Mason County Housing Authority — that there was some confusion surrounding the law. Prosecutors in multiple counties had informed county commissioners of their belief that any assistance provided by them to local housing authorities could be construed as an illegal gift of public funds. My bill removes any ambiguity once and for all, which is important because there is so much good work counties and housing authorities can collaborate on to serve local residents.
Mason, Thurston and Kitsap projects included in 2018 supplemental capital budget
The $198 million supplemental capital budget approved by the Legislature earlier this month includes $3.1 million in funding for projects in the 35th District. This is in addition to the $37 million our district received in the 2017-19 capital budget, which passed in January.
Projects in the 2018 supplemental capital budget include:
- $1.3 million to replace the structures and fencing in the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area that were destroyed in a fire last August;
- $742,000 for the design and reconfiguration of the Schafer State Park campground in Elma;
- $412,000 to renovate the North Mason Teen Center in Belfair;
- $376,000 to update existing facilities at the Port of Allyn marina; and
- $288,000 for the William G. Reed Library in Shelton.
Projects in the 2017-19 capital budget include:
- $3 million for tiny homes for homeless veterans in Mason County;
- $3 million for sewer repairs in Shelton;
- $515,000 to provide a wastewater connection from the South Kitsap Industrial Area to the Belfair Wastewater Reclamation Facility;
- $475,000 to construct a new building for the Holly Ridge Center in Bremerton;
- $200,000 for improvements to Camp Schechter in Tumwater; and
- $27,000 for shelter resident room improvements, technological replacements and security upgrades at the Turning Pointe domestic violence shelter in Shelton.
I'm proud of the projects we were able to secure for our communities in both capital budgets. They will make a real difference in a lot of people's lives.
Legislature passes 2018 supplemental operating budget free of tax increases
One of our other top priorities this year was passing the 2018 supplemental operating budget. While supplemental budgets are meant to make small adjustments and additions to the previous two-year spending plan, the budget we passed this year spends an additional $1.2 billion this biennium.
I think that's a mistake, especially since we know we're overdue for an economic correction. To immediately spend the extra revenue we're projected to bring in over the next four years is not fiscally responsible, and leaves us vulnerable when times aren't as rosy.
As I mentioned in my last update, we passed a $30.9 billion budget in the 2011-13 biennium. The budget we pass for the 2019-21 biennium will be close to $50 billion. As the minority party, we don't control the purse strings, and we are often not invited to sit at the negotiation table to give our input. All we can do is offer warnings about the potential consequences of continued fiscal irresponsibility and hope the majority party one day listens.
I think the 2018 supplemental operating budget allocates money for some important things, and I was glad to see it did not include a capital gains tax or a carbon tax, but I could not support it. It simply spends too much.
Although session has adjourned, please know I'm here to serve you year-round. Don't hesitate to reach out to me with comments, questions or concerns. Additionally, please feel free to send an email to my legislative assistant Pam Shaffer to set up a date and time to meet with me in district.
It is an honor to serve you.