Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I want to thank those of you who were able to join Rep. Brad Klippert, Sen. Sharon Brown and I at our recent telephone town hall. We had over 3,000 participants from district at one time or another during the one-hour event with just over 600 on the line listening in at our peak! What a great way to hear your thoughts and concerns about state government. Here is a quick rundown of the survey questions we asked. I know I asked the gas tax question a few times over the past year, but it keeps coming up in Olympia and I want to make sure my colleagues have accurate and up-to-date information where folks in our district stand on this:
House Democrats and the governor want to raise the state gas tax by as much as 10.5 cents a gallon. Would you be willing to pay 10.5 cents more a gallon to help pay for transportation projects in the state?
YES = 6.8%
NO = 93.2%
If you could pick one issue that is most important to you – the one that impacts you the most – what issue would that be?
Jobs/the economy = 26.2%
K-12 education = 5%
Health care = 26.2%
State spending = 28.8%
Transportation = 3.8%
Other = 10%
The state Supreme Court recently chastised the Legislature, saying lawmakers need to put more money into education and teacher salaries right away, despite the fact we spent over a billion dollars more in K-12 education in last year's budget. Do you agree with the state Supreme Court's ruling?
YES = 15.2%
NO = 66.7%
NOT SURE = 18.2%
House Bill 2109 – This is one of my main priorities this session. This bill directs the Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Washington School of medicine to support the development of residency training programs in southeastern Washington in partnership with qualified hospitals licensed in the state. We are seeing a greater shortage of primary care physicians in rural and underserved areas of the state, especially in Eastern Washington, and this bill would help solve that problem. HB 2109 was voted out of the House Higher Education Committee on Wednesday of this week.
House Bill 2660 – This bill would give a business and occupation (B&O) tax credit for employers that hire individuals with developmental disabilities. I firmly believe that we as a society should stand up and protect the most vulnerable among us. There are folks out there that try to “game the system” and take advantage of any government program or assistance they can. However, the developmental disability community is not one of them. They are truly the most vulnerable and I'd like to see employers have some incentive to train and work with these people. It is a win-win for our communities.
House Joint Resolution 4201 – This is my constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature for all tax increases. This is something the public has supported at the ballot multiple times in the past. I will continue to push for this common-sense taxpayer protection throughout this short session.
Staying involved – staying connected
I want to make sure you have every opportunity to be involved in what goes on in Olympia. This is YOUR government. Accessibility to the legislative information and action is paramount to being an involved citizenry. Here are a few ways you can stay connected this year:
- Capitol Buzz – A daily electronic clip service of House Republicans. Click here to subscribe.
- The Current – An online publication from House Republicans to include you in the legislative process. Click here to subscribe.
- Capitol Report – You can get all of the Washington House Republican Capitol Report programs on your iPhone and iPad through the iTunes store by clicking here.
- Check out my website – www.representativelarryhaler.com. From this link, you can get more information about me, the bills I've sponsored and view my news releases.
- Photos – Access my photo gallery here.
- Video updates – Every other week, I record a new legislative video update with the latest news from the Legislature. You can view my reports here on YouTube.
- TVW – The state's own version of C-Span, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live. You can also watch on your computer, smartphone or tablet: www.tvw.org
- Legislature's website – You can get bill reports, committee agendas and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature at: www.leg.wa.gov
This week we celebrated Kids' Day and Martin Luther King Day at the state Capitol, as well as the annual March for Life event, which drew about 4,500 passionately concerned citizens who believe we have an obligation to stand up for the unborn. I understand that this position is not popular with some, but I will never apologize for my belief that life is a sacred gift from our Creator. In that light, I continue to fight against House Bill 2148, the abortion mandate bill which would require all health insurance plans to cover abortions if they also cover maternity care. I hope you'll stand with me in this effort.
As always, feel free to contact my Olympia office with your thoughts, questions and concerns. It is an honor to serve you in the Legislature.