Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It’s been a long week and I’m looking forward to being home this weekend. We spent long hours on the floor Monday and Tuesday nights due to the Tuesday cutoff for House bills to pass out of the House. You can view the updated dead/alive bill list here.
Update on legislation
A constituent last week requested that I include more “meaty” bills in my updates – so here are where some of the more controversial bills are at in the legislative process:
- Minimum wage increase – Gov. Inslee first proposed increasing the minimum wage in his State of the State address, and House Democrats introduced House Bill 2672. The legislation would increase the minimum wage by almost $3 an hour, making it $12 an hour. Status: The bill did not pass the House before cutoff, but because it is currently in the House Appropriations Committee, it could be deemed “necessary to implement the budget” and be passed up until the last day of session March 13. My stance: I don’t support it – Washington already has the highest minimum wage in the country at $9.32 an hour. We need more jobs, not less.
- Gun initiatives – There were two initiatives submitted to the Legislature – one is pro-2nd Amendment rights, the other would essentially create mandatory background checks. The Legislature can either make changes to these for the ballot, or leave them as-is for the ballot. Status: Public hearings were held in the House and Senate, with great attendance from the public. The initiatives have not moved from there. It is widely assumed they will be left alone for the voters to decide on both. My stance: Let them go straight to the ballot so the people can decide once and for all. If the initiatives were to come up for a vote, I would support the 2nd Amendment and your right to keep and bear arms. I would oppose the universal background checks.
- More authority for Dept. of Ecology – House Bill 2347 would give the Department of Ecology broad authority to establish measures to “reduce the risk” of oil spills from vessels. Status: Passed the House 57-37. My stance: I voted “no” – I don’t like giving any agency such broad authority without accountability from the public.
- Voting Rights Act – House Bill 1413 would essentially allow any minority candidate who does not win in a local election district like a school, fire or PUD district to sue the county elections authority and lead to district boundaries being re-drawn to favor a protected class and influence the outcome of an election. Status: Passed the House 53-43. My stance: I voted “no” – I believe this could be seen as a form of reverse discrimination, and that the best candidates should win elections – regardless of race, class or creed.
- Student privacy – House Bill 2133 would require the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) to conduct a thorough study of how students in Washington state are having their personally identifiable information released without their approval or knowledge. Status: Received a public hearing, but did not move forward. My stance: If given the chance, I would have voted “yes” on this proposal in the House Education Committee. I’m concerned about how all of our personal information is used and shared by the government – especially students.
- Re-enacting the Rural County Tax Incentive Program. House Bill 2204 would diversify the rural economy by granting a deferral and waiver of certain taxes to businesses who locate in one of 31 rural counties and who engage in manufacturing, computer related services, or research and development. Status: Received a public hearing, but did not move forward. My stance: If this had come before the full House for a vote, I would have voted “yes.” I even co-sponsored this legislation, because it would help our rural counties bring in more employers and jobs.
Gov. Inslee recently announced he would be suspending the death penalty. Several people on our recent telephone town hall expressed concerns about this. Though this issue isn’t before the Legislature, which is unfortunate because the public should have had the chance to weigh-in, I don’t support the governor’s decision. I think this was a hastily made decision that does not take into account the families of the victims who were all brutally murdered by the nine men on death row. These men were tried by a jury of their peers and convicted of these crimes – their sentences should mean something.
If you have questions for me about where I stand or how I’ve voted on any legislation – please don’t hesitate to ask! I want to be honest and straightforward with everyone I represent. I know we may not agree on every issue that comes before the Legislature, but I want to hear from you and have an open dialogue.
Serving as House Republican Caucus chair
Many of you know I serve as the chair of the House Republican Caucus here in Olympia. This is one of the top leadership positions in our caucus and I am honored to serve. Watch this week’s video where I describe this position from our physical caucus room:
While the weather conditions traveling the pass have been dangerous for drivers, and I hope everyone remains careful in their travels, this means increased snowpack and water reserves for the remainder of the year.
Here’s a comparison of snowpack counts across our state – from Feb. 17 to today (Feb. 21):
What a difference just four days makes! Things are looking much better! This is welcome news for junior water rights holders across our district who were growing concerned they may face water restrictions.
As always, please feel free to contact my office anytime with questions, concerns or suggestions. It’s an honor to serve you.
13th Legislative District
Olympia Office (January-March)
427A Legislative Building – P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7932 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000
District Office (March-December)
326 South Cedar Street, Suite A
Moses Lake, WA 98837