Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Later this evening, I'll be hosting a telephone town hall from the House Republican radio studio here at the Capitol. Please join me if you can by calling (360) 226-5415 any time from 6-7 p.m. During the hourlong call, I'll be taking your questions on legislative issues and asking a number of survey questions. If you're unable to participate tonight, please know you can always call me at (360) 786-7902 or send me an email with your comments, questions or concerns. I value and appreciate your feedback, as it helps me better serve you in the Legislature.
House of Origin cutoff and the status of my bills
Last Wednesday marked House of Origin cutoff, which means all bills that did not advance out of the chamber in which they were introduced are now considered dead for the year. The only exception to this are bills deemed necessary to implement the budget, though we don't yet know which ones will receive that designation.
As for my bills, seven survived House of Origin cutoff and are still making their way through the legislative process.
- House Bill 1089 would delink standardized tests from high school graduation requirements, beginning retroactively with the graduating class of 2015. Under the bill, both the Certificate of Academic Achievement and the Certificate of Individual Achievement would be discontinued. HB 1089 was approved 84-13 in the House, and is now in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.
- House Bill 1146 would extend the state's Christmas tree grower licensure program. The program, which was created by legislation signed into law in 2007, requires businesses that grow Christmas trees to obtain a grower license from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA). The annual fee for a license is $40, plus an acreage assessment of $3 per acre. However, the total annual license fee for a business may not exceed $5,000. Fees are deposited into a dedicated Christmas tree subaccount within WSDA, which are then allocated for a number of ongoing research and preservation efforts. Washington ranks fourth in the nation when it comes to Christmas tree production, and Mason and Thurston counties are two of the state's top suppliers. Extending this licensure program will help ensure Christmas trees, and the businesses that sell them across our state, remain vibrant and healthy. HB 1146, which was approved 91-0 in the House, is now in the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee.
- House Bill 1304 would establish the Vocational Alternative Learning Experience Pilot Program. The intent of the program would be to show the value of providing state funding for the expansion of career and technical education instruction in alternative learning experience courses. As many as 10 school districts would be chosen by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to participate in the pilot program, including two that have multidistrict online school programs. Each district would participate for four complete school years, starting in the 2019-20 school year. HB 1304, which was approved 92-4 in the House, is scheduled to receive a public hearing this afternoon in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.
- House Bills 1430, 1557 and 1676 are designed to transform the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board into a more business-friendly agency that's focused on excellent customer service. The small, but important adjustments in these bills would be a good first step in that effort. All three bills received unanimous approval in the House, and are scheduled to receive or have already received a public hearing in the Senate.
- House Bill 2040 would provide financial relief to non-high school districts by changing the calculation of how much they're required to reimburse neighboring high school districts for educating their students. Under the bill, non-high school districts would only be required to pay whichever per-pupil levy rate is lower between the two districts. Providing this financial relief would result in more funds being available for local educational needs. That would be a big win for students and families across the state, especially in our more rural areas. HB 2040 was approved 97-0, and is now in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.
Two minutes with TVW
Earlier this month, I sat down with TVW to record a short video for their “Legislator Profiles” series. In the video, I discuss our district, my political heroes and mentors, and my legislative priorities. Take a look:
Sponsoring local student Wyatt Curl as a House page
I recently had the opportunity to sponsor 14-year-old home-school student Wyatt Curl as a page here in the state House. Wyatt is active in Boy Scouts, and has achieved Life rank—the second-highest rank attainable. He is also on the swim team at North Thurston High School, and loves to write stories in his free time.
During his week at the Capitol, Wyatt attended page school every day to learn about the three branches of state government, the lawmaking process, and the importance of civil discourse. He also carried out a number of duties critical to the efficient operation of the Legislature.
I'm always impressed by the quality of students who apply to serve as pages, and Wyatt is no exception. He's motivated and confident, and I have no doubt he'll continue to be successful at whatever he chooses to pursue in life.
As I mentioned above, please feel free to call or email me any time. My number is (360) 786-7902, and my email address is Drew.MacEwen@leg.wa.gov.
It is an honor to serve you.