Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I am back in Olympia for the 2014 legislative session. This year, the constitution provides us with 60 days to make minor adjustments to the two-year budget we set last year. You can read more about all three of the state’s budgets and how they receive funding and spend funding here. The good news is that the state has brought in more revenue within current collections than originally expected. So for the first time since 2008, we have a little bit more and aren’t facing a massive budget shortfall. This leads many of us in Olympia to be hopeful we can accomplish our work on time!
Yesterday, Gov. Inslee provided his State of the State address – you can watch it here. I’m very concerned that this speech does not align with his proposed supplemental budget and that he provided very little detail as to how he would accomplish his lofty goals. Our economy is just beginning to recover, as evidenced by the slightly higher revenue forecast to the state’s coffers. Now is not the time to make things more expensive for middle class families or small businesses. Read about the solutions I’m supporting to help small businesses in this recent article in the Daily Record.
Telephone town hall Feb. 13
It’s important for me to stay connected with the people I represent while I’m in Olympia. Rep. Matt Manweller and I are hosting a telephone town hall on Thursday, Feb. 13 starting at 6:30 p.m. Anytime during the hour-long conversation, you can call toll-free (800) 762-1620 to listen in, or press * (star/asterisk) on your phone to ask us a question live. I hope to talk with many of you and hear what your concerns and priorities are for our work in Olympia.
This year I’m sponsoring or co-sponsoring just a handful of bills to help address some challenges we see in our state:
House Bill 2133 would help maintain the privacy of student records, like test scores, after federal student privacy laws were broadened to allow personally-identifiable student data to be shared with more companies and organizations. This bill would ensure parents and guardians provide consent before this data is shared. Teachers from Moses Lake shared their concerns with this issue to myself and Rep. Manweller, so we are co-sponsoring this bill.
House Bill 2204 is sponsored by Rep. Manweller, and I’m supporting it. This legislation would re-establish a rural county tax exemption which had expired and was replaced with another program that reduced the number of communities that qualified. This bill would extend the earlier, broader tax incentive program to encourage businesses to locate in rural counties and create jobs. The program was successful from 1994-2009 and I hope we can bring it back.
I’m working on a couple other bills that have not yet been introduced, but I’ll share more information about those later.
Student interns serving our district
I’m pleased to share that we have two college students who will be serving our district this year.
Evangelina Alvarez is from Quincy and attends Washington State University (WSU) and will be interning with the House of Representatives this year. She is majoring in Pre-Law and Business Management and Operations. Evangelina’s been assigned to work with several members, including myself. We’ll be sure to keep her busy with helping my office respond to your calls and e-mails and doing important research on legislation and issues facing the state.
Leilani Leach is also a WSU student and an intern reporter with the Murrow News Service. She’ll be covering legislative stories for the Columbia Basin Herald and the Wenatchee World, which includes occasionally interviewing me for my take on issues being discussed.
WSDOT is conducting a survey for drivers over Snoqualmie Pass. The agency specifically wants to know about visibility on the pass during rain, snow and ice conditions. You can take their survey here to have your voice be heard and help WSDOT improve visibility and safety for drivers.
I am pleased to hear that Moses Lake is being considered for jobs as a result of Boeing’s decision to build the 777X here in Washington: Boeing beginning search for Washington site for composite wing plant (The News Tribune). Central Washington is continuing to be known as the place to site a business and create jobs!
To stay up-to-date on statewide news, I encourage you to sign up for The Capitol Buzz, which is a daily morning compilation of news clips from across the state concerning statewide issues. To follow news from the Legislature, you can sign up for The Current, a weekly summary from House Republicans of the latest news and issues being discussed here in Olympia.
As always, if I can ever be of assistance, or if you have concerns, questions or suggestions, please contact my office. I’m here to serve you, and it’s an honor.