Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2017 legislative session is under way, and things are off to a fast start with bills being introduced, committee meetings taking place, and budget discussions being held. I'm excited to be back in Olympia representing you and bringing your priorities to the forefront.
In mid-December, I was appointed assistant ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, which considers the two-year operating budget and other fiscal matters. In addition to serving as assistant ranking member of the committee, I will also be serving as deputy budget writer for our caucus. Every decision we make as budget writers has an impact on our families and communities, which means we have to get it right. I take this responsibility seriously and look forward to working on a sustainable budget that serves all Washingtonians.
As you are probably aware, one of the priorities for the Legislature this year will be solving the final piece of the McCleary puzzle. While we have made historic investments in K-12 education the last four years, we are not quite there yet in terms of coming up with an adequate and equitable solution to McCleary. One important part of getting there will be coming up with a way to end the reliance of districts on local levies to fund basic education. We can no longer kick the can down the road and wait for the next session to solve this problem. It's imperative we implement a long-term solution this session, and I'm confident we will.
It was an honor to join Rep. Griffey and Sen. Sheldon in speaking with students from Shelton High School earlier this week.
Bills I've introduced this session
Below is a brief summary of some of the bills I've introduced this session. I welcome your feedback on these bills and look forward to discussing them with you.
House Bill 1021 would create a standalone budget for K-12 education, fully funding basic education with existing revenues without relying on new taxes.
House Bill 1022 would establish the Safety and Access for Immigrant Victims Act, making it possible for undocumented crime victims to contact local law enforcement and seek help without fear of deportation.
House Bill 1023 would prohibit the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) from requiring that a transfer student who is a child of an active duty military family meet continuous enrollment prerequisites before being eligible for varsity-level extracurricular activities.
House Bill 1044 would require the Washington State Department of Commerce, when using money from the housing trust fund and other legislative appropriations to finance loans or grant projects to provide housing for persons and families with special housing needs and certain incomes, to use at least 25 percent of the money used in any given funding cycle for homeownership projects.
House Bill 1046 would ensure requirements for graduating from high school are decoupled from statewide high school assessments.
House Bill 1157 would establish the Lane Sharing for Safety Act, allowing motorcycle riders to overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being passed. It would also allow riders to drive their motorcycles between lanes of traffic as long as they're not traveling in excess of 35 mph.
Legislation introduced to abolish the death penalty
Earlier this week, Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson held a press conference to announce proposed legislation that would abolish the death penalty in Washington state. In 2014, the governor imposed a moratorium on capital punishment and recently granted a reprieve to an inmate on death row who was scheduled to be executed. Whether you strongly favor or vehemently oppose the death penalty, or fall somewhere in the middle, I want to hear from you. I've created a survey with one simple question: “Do you agree with the current push by Gov. Inslee, Attorney General Ferguson and others to abolish capital punishment in Washington state?” There is also a comment box below the survey question for you to share your thoughts with me.
Answer the survey question here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PQMM5BV
Honoring Miss and Mr. Mason Area Pageant participants
During floor ceremonies Monday, the state House recognized the Miss and Mr. Mason Area Pageant with a resolution sponsored by myself and Rep. Griffey thanking participants for their community service in Mason County. The Pageant has served Mason County for the last four years, with participants raising money for charity, collecting coats for a domestic violence shelter and food items for a local food bank, making Capes of Courage for foster children, and much more. I could not be more impressed by these young role models who are making such a positive difference in our local communities. Their dedication to serving others is nothing short of inspiring. Thank you to every member of the Miss and Mr. Mason Area Pageant for everything you do!
Weekly radio interviews on KMAS
Every Wednesday morning during session, I have the opportunity to join KMAS' Jeff Slakey live on the air to discuss legislative issues. Last week, Jeff and I spoke about expectations for this session. This week, we discussed several legislative issues, including education funding and an explanation of what the “levy cliff” is. We also discussed the committees I'm serving on – Appropriations, Capital Budget, and Health Care & Wellness, which I was appointed to earlier this week. Both segments are below.
It is an honor to serve you in the state House of Representatives. Please feel free to contact me any time with your questions, comments or concerns. My contact information is below.