Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I trust you had a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year. With Hanukkah falling on Thanksgiving, followed by a short Christmas season and a mid-week New Year's Day, it's been a busy time filled with family, friends, faith, and fellowship. As we think about our struggles and accomplishments in 2013 and discuss our plans and hopes for 2014, I recall a senior legislator's words to me on June 29th after my first session and two 'special sessions': “Well, at least you'll never be called a 'Freshman' again!”
Thank you for keeping in touch with me and keeping me informed about issues in our district, via email, calls, visits to my office or over coffee back home in district, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Please continue to let me know what's important to you so I can be a better voice.
Thanks again for responding to the transportation survey. Over 72% of respondents to the 39th LD survey said they were not in favor of a 10-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase and about half said it would cause distress. I will take your strong message to Olympia and vote 'No' on increased gas taxes. I will continue to urge my colleagues to live within our means and to enact reforms to use our gas tax dollars more efficiently and effectively, since we already have one of the highest gas taxes in the U.S. and many of our transportation projects cost up to twice as much as similar projects in other states
Join Rep. Kristiansen and me for a telephone town hall meeting!
On Thursday, Feb. 6, my seatmate, Rep. Dan Kristiansen and I will be holding a telephone town hall meeting for all 39th District citizens. Please dial toll-free 1-800-759-5313 to participate. These forums act like a radio call-in show and serve as an excellent way for us to communicate with folks back home while we're in session. You can take part in answering our survey, ask questions over the phone, or just listen in from the comfort of your own home. These events have proven very successful in the past. I hope you can join us.
Are you on Twitter and have a question or want to share an idea to improve our state? If so, please join House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen and House Republican Floor Leader J.T. Wilcox in a Twitter Town Hall on Jan. 9. Both legislators will be answering your questions from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m.
This year, I'm sponsoring House Bill 2133 to help protect student privacy. The bill was prompted by a parent in my district whose son had been pressured by his teacher to share the family email address while students were registering online for Common Core testing. When the mother received the email confirming the Common Core registration, she was concerned and after conferring with her son, she went to the teacher and then the principal, but felt dismissed by their response. This prompted her to do some research on Common Core, which caused her concern to increase. At that point, she called her state legislators.
In 2011, the federal student privacy law (FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) was broadened to allow sharing of personally-identifiable student information with governmental and non-governmental entities – including private companies – if the Dept of Education determined that the private companies would use the information for educational purposes. Due to increased parental concern, four states (Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama, and Iowa) now have laws blocking the sharing of personally-identifiable student information with the federal government or private companies, and only share this information in aggregate.
My bill directs the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC), to scrutinize the revised 2011 FERPA documents and agreements by OSPI (our WA State Dept of Ed), the Office of Financial Management, and school districts related to collection, sharing, storage, security, dissemination, and access to personally-identifiable student data to determine the extent to which student privacy rights may be violated, and submit the findings to the Senate and House Education committees by September 1, 2014. If personally-identifiable student data is shared without written parental or student consent, this law would require that our state withdraw from any multi-state assessment consortium (i.e. Smarter Balanced/SBAC, or “Common Core”). An annual review and report of any changes would also be required.
For ten years, states have been using student-specific longitudinal data, but the broadening of FERPA combined with the extensive data collection required by Common Core has prompted the most extensive data-tracking of American citizens ever seen. This student privacy bill would help protect student privacy and raise awareness among parents and guardians whose signatures would be required for the sharing of their student's information.
Other bills I'm sponsoring this year
Term Limits for Legislators: 8 consecutive years in the House or Senate, then step out for minimum two years before running again.
FGM: making female genital mutilation a crime and requiring reporting of cases
Child daycare compliance: using local inspectors (ex. Fire chief) instead of agents from Dept of Early Learning
Please feel free to visit Olympia at any time during the legislative session or during the interim. Just call my office in Olympia and we'll work with you so you can visit me, committee hearings, the governor's mansion and the state Supreme Court chambers. You can even sit in the gallery above the House floor to watch floor debate as we pass bills. I want to make myself and my office available to you so that state government is within reach. Citizens being involved in their government is what makes our system the best in the world!
As always, let me know if you have any questions, thoughts or concerns on legislation or important issues. I look forward to hearing from you. And thanks for reading my e-newsletter and for placing your trust in me to be your voice in Olympia. May you be blessed with Prosperity and Good Health in the New Year!”
436 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7816 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000