Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This week was the “House of origin” cutoff in the state Legislature. Any House bill – other than those “necessary to implement the budget” – that didn't make it off the floor of the House by Wednesday night is considered “dead” for the session. Here is an updated list of some of the more popular bills that are either dead or still moving through the process.
Also, I wanted to let you know of my upcoming telephone town hall meeting. This is a town hall meeting that takes place over the phone so you can participate from the comfort and convenience of your own home. I invite you to join with me and other 39th District citizens in discussing state government and the issues that concern you. You can just listen in or press star-3 (*3) on your telephone to ask me a question live. The details are in the graphic on the left. I hope you can join us!
House Bill 1588, the bill that would mandate background checks on private firearms transactions, did not make it out of the House. There was a lot of media surrounding the efforts of this bill. Our new governor even gave out the private cell phone number of one of my House colleagues in order to lobby in support of the bill. After two days of arm twisting and heavy-handed politics, the majority party could not get enough support to bring the bill up for a vote. I want you to know that I would have voted a resounding NO on this particular bill. If you want to read some of the media stories on the recent developments surrounding the bill, click on the stories below.
I've received more contact from constituents on this bill than just about any other bill so far this year. The vast majority of you opposed the bill. But what you have to know is that supporters are already talking about turning this into an initiative this year. Stay engaged on this issue – you may have the final say at some point during the fall election season.
I'm extremely happy to report to you that my proposal (House Bill 1180) to give volunteer firefighters the same death benefits as paid firefighters passed the House this week! I introduced this legislation at the request of several communities in our district, including Darrington, Granite Falls and Concrete. Here's an excerpt from the press release I sent out:
“Around seventy percent of the firefighters in our state are volunteers,” said Scott. “We especially see a lot of volunteer firefighters in our smaller communities. When a volunteer firefighter dies in the line of duty, the families and communities being served by that individual don't care whether he or she was being paid or not. It's a tragedy, period. This bill is a way to help the families that are left behind after a tragedy and to provide some assurance for the many brave men and women currently volunteering around the state.”
If you want to read my entire news release, click here. If you want to watch the floor debate on this bill and see my floor speech, click the photo on the right and scroll the timer to 18:01. It's an exciting experience to see your hard work pay off by having your first piece of legislation pass off the House floor. But I'm more excited for the men, women, families and communities who would benefit if this bill makes it into law.
Transportation GAS TAX? – Fix it before you fund it!
In my last e-newsletter, I told you about the House majority party's proposal to increase the state gas tax by 10 cents, along with an assortment of other tax and fee increases. My House Republican colleagues and I say that before the Legislature takes more tax dollars from your pockets, we need to address the problems and the waste in our state's transportation system. We say, “Fix it before you fund it!”
Last week, we released our plan of economic and transportation reforms that would create jobs, make gas tax dollars go further, ensure accountability and protect taxpayers. Here's a quick look at our plan:
- House Bill 1236 would require state agencies to make a permit decision in 90 days or the permit is granted.
- House Bill 1619 would suspend Growth Management Act requirements in counties with persistent unemployment, where regulations often stand in the way of economic development.
Making gas tax dollars go further
- House Bill 1985 would exempt future state transportation projects from state and local sales and use tax.
- House Bill 1986 would require WSDOT to report to the Legislature on engineering errors and mistakes that exceed $500,000. The report would need to explain how it happened, who was responsible, what disciplinary steps were taken, and what actions the transportation secretary recommends to avoid similar errors in the future.
- House Bill 1984 would limit WSDOT's tort liability based on the amount of the department's actual fault, instead of allowing plaintiffs to recover the entire judgment from the deeper pockets of the state.
- House Bill 1989 would limit bond terms for transportation projects to 15 years.
Raising taxes and throwing more money at the state's transportation system without implementing reforms would only enable more of the same problems of waste and failure. We need to make sure that every dollar taken from the taxpayer is used wisely and efficiently BEFORE asking for more of your hard-earned money. For more information on our “Fix it before you fund it!” proposal, click here.
Many of you joined with others around the state to take our online survey question about the gas tax. As of today, 86.7% of you said you didn't want to see the gas tax raised by 10 cents a gallon. Not surprising to me at all. But I will keep those numbers in mind – and remind my colleagues – if this issue comes up for a vote in Olympia.
Since 1891, young people from across the state have come to Olympia to serve as pages for the Washington State House of Representatives. Paging presents students with a unique educational opportunity to participate in the legislative process. Page duties are varied. They range from ceremonial tasks such as presenting the flags to operational chores like distributing amendments during legislative sessions. Each job is vital to the efficient operation of the Legislature. As the week-long experience draws to a close and pages return to their schools and communities, it is hoped that pages will share their experiences and observations with others in an effort to contribute to a more universal understanding of the legislative process.
To serve as a legislative page for the House of Representatives, a student must:
- Have permission from a parent or guardian
- Have permission from school
- Be sponsored by a current member of the House of Representatives
- Be at least 14 years of age and not have reached his or her 17th birthday
Thank you for taking the time to read my e-newsletter and for being involved in your government! It is a privilege and honor to serve you in Olympia.
436 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7816 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000