Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Yesterday 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 last night is considered “dead” for the session. It takes us some time to update our “dead/alive” bill list so I'll include that in my next e-newsletter. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of good bills that didn't make it through the process, but there are also several bad bills that look to be dead for the session.
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 votes 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 during my entire time in the Legislature. 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.
A few of my proposals passed the House and are moving through the process over in the Senate:
House Bill 1459 – would allow students under the age of 21 who are enrolled in viticulture and enology programs to “taste and spit” the wine they are studying. We have a very successful wine industry and wine education system in place in our state and region. Allowing students to develop their palates and intricately study the wine they are making is the right thing to do.
House Bill 1944 – this bill would outlaw the use of license plate “flippers” on automobiles in our state. These “flippers” change the license plate while the car is driving to help the driver avoid speeding tickets or other crimes. I introduced this bill at the request of the West Richland Police Department. If you want to hear a radio spot for this bill and the technology that seems straight out of a James Bond film, click here.
House Bill 1950 – this bill would allow hydroelectric projects in irrigation canals and also allows the power generated by these projects to count as “renewable energy” under the state's Energy Independence Act. To read my press release on this bill, click here.
Substitute House Bill 1021 – this bill would educate the parents on the harmful effects of parental abduction. Oftentimes, parents going through a divorce will try to separate the child from one of the parents. This leads to fear, confusion and instability for the child. My bill would require information on parental abduction be included in any paperwork on parenting in dissolution cases.
House Bill 1797 – this bill would allow a county treasurer to send out notices electronically (if they want) instead of just by regular mail. This saves taxpayer dollars.
Transportation – 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 another dime of additional taxes from your pockets, we need to fix the problems that are causing the enormous cost of waste in our state's transportation system. We say, “Fix it before you fund it!”
Last Thursday, House Republicans released an action plan of economic and transportation reforms that would: create jobs, make gas tax dollars go further, ensure accountability and protect taxpayers. Here's a 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.
- 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.
Thanks again for reading my e-newsletter. It is an honor to serve you in Olympia.