Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We're now half-way through the 2010 session and approaching the deadline for bills to be voted out of their House of origin. Very soon most of our days (and nights) will be spent on the House floor voting on legislation that has made it through the committee process. Then, House committees will hear the Senate bills that have passed and the Senate committees will hear the House bills that have passed and the process starts all over!
Columbia River Young Marines
My 8th District colleagues and I had the privilege of hosting the Columbia River Young Marines this week as they presented the colors before the House convened for floor action.
The Young Marines is a youth education and service program for boys and girls ages eight through completion of high school. Since it was launched in 1958, the organization has grown to 300 units throughout the U.S., including four in Washington, with a membership of more than 14,000. The Columbia River Young Marines was named National Young Marines Unit of the Year in 2005, and Regional Young Marines Unit of the Year in 2009.
Higher Education Accountability
While I'm disappointed that my proposal to increase accountability measures for higher education institutions and their salaried presidents didn't pass out of committee, I am encouraged by the discussions and cooperation that were brought on by this legislation.
My bill, House Bill 2859, brought many issues to the table in terms of accountability and the public's expectations. I was able to get all the state funded higher education institutions together to work on these issues and believe we have a viable plan moving forward. I'll continue to work on this throughout the year and expect to have an agreed-upon bill using existing online technology that will increase both accountability and the public's access to critical information.
Gutting the will of the people – legislators set the stage for tax increases
The majority party in the Senate has proposed legislation to gut Initiative 960 which currently requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature or a vote of the people in order to raise taxes.
Senate Bill 6843 would suspend the protections voters approved in 2007 when they overwhelmingly passed I-960. In essence, the majority party will use a SIMPLE MAJORITY VOTE to do away with the TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY VOTE REQUIREMENT to raise taxes!
You also need to know about House Bill 3176 which would be used to raise taxes once Senate Bill 6843 passes the Legislature. House Bill 3176 is 90 pages long and contains between $250-$300 million in tax and fee increases.
I oppose both these measures. I do not believe the Legislature should be doing an end-run around the voters who passed I-960 just a couple of years ago. And, I do not believe that tax increases are the answer to our state's budget problems.
2nd Annual Energy Independence Day
On Feb. 4th, the Legislature held the “Second Annual Energy Independence Day” at the Capitol. This was once again an opportunity to showcase the many public and private efforts of energy production, research, and conservation going on around the Tri-City region. This year's participants included:
* WSU Nuclear Radiation Center
* Columbia Basin College
* Energy Northwest
* Benton/Franklin County PUDs
* WSU Tri-Cities – Bioproducts, Sciences & Engineering Laboratory (BSEL)
* Tri-Cities Research District
* Ports of Benton and Kennewick
* Home Builders Assn. of Tri-Cities
It was a privilege to help host the event and to show my colleagues in the Legislature, the public and the media the importance of our region when it comes to energy independence.
Thanks again for reading my e-newsletter and staying involved. If you ever need anything, please don't hesitate to contact me.