Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We're now over halfway through the 60-day 2014 legislative session. Most of this week was spent on the House floor debating and voting on bills or in caucus meetings being briefed on legislation. We have until next Tuesday (Feb. 18) to pass House bills out of the House and on to the Senate. Any House bill that doesn't make it out of the House by Tuesday will be considered “dead” for the remainder of session unless it is considered “necessary to implement the budget” – NTIB.
Tri-Cities Town Hall
I want to invite you to a town hall meeting with your 8th Legislative District team on Saturday, Feb. 22. We're holding three events – please feel free to attend the one most convenient to you.
Richland City Hall
505 Swift Blvd
West Richland (10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.)
West Richland Library
3803 W. Van Giesen
Kennewick (1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.)
City Hall Council Chambers
210 W. 6th Ave.
Dueling Gun Initiatives
There are two initiatives to the Legislature this year dealing with firearms. Since neither one is likely to pass the Legislature, they both are expected to be on the ballot this fall. YOU – the voters – will decide on these two issues:
As expected, the public hearing brought out the arguments and passions for both initiatives. If these issues do come up for a vote in the Legislature, I can assure you that I will stand to protect our 2nd Amendment rights. You can watch the full public hearing here.
Governor Inslee has unveiled a plan to increase taxes by $414 million. While less than the $1.2 billion in tax increases he proposed last year, he targets some of the same people and industries. To learn about how Governor Inslee wants to spend this new money, click here.
I find it discouraging that at least four times as a candidate and three times after being elected, Governor Inslee said he was against tax increases. You can find these broken promises here. Our economy remains fragile. It's never a good time to raise taxes, but especially during a recovery.
I'm also discouraged by what I see being pushed by some in Olympia this session in what I can only call, “The war on small businesses.” Minimum wage increases, mandatory paid sick leave, mandatory paid vacation leave, Obamacare, no workers' comp reform and increasing bureaucratic regulations and red tape. I often wonder if some folks in Olympia don't understand that small businesses are the backbone of our state and nation's economy. I will continue to fight against these types of barriers to job creation in our state while supporting efforts to free up the private sector and our entrepreneurs so that they can continue to lead our state out of the economic recession.
This week, Gov. Jay Inslee announced he was suspending the death penalty while he is governor. This caught legislators off guard as many of us believe decisions this big should be left up to the Legislature where open debate from both sides of the issue can be heard.
I have two main concerns regarding the governor's actions:
1) He is doing this through his executive powers, and didn't approach the Legislature or have legislation introduced so we could go through the public hearing process and let the people's voice be heard.
2) There seems to be a lack of concern for the victims' families. A loved one has been taken from them in a violent crime, yet the governor is now telling them he will issue a reprieve to the guilty party if a death penalty case crosses his desk while he is in office.
Here is a list of the offenders currently sitting on death row in Washington:
1. Jonathan Lee Gentry convicted June 26, 1991 of fatally bludgeoning Cassie Holden, 12, on June 13, 1988 in Kitsap County.
2. Clark Richard Elmore convicted on July 6, 1995 of one count of aggravated first degree murder and one count of rape in the second degree for the rape and murder of Christy Onstad, 14, the daughter of his live-in girlfriend on April 17, 1995 in Whatcom County.
3. Dwayne A. Woods convicted on June 20, 1997 of two counts of aggravated first degree murder for the murders of Telisha Shaver, 22, and Jade Moore, 18, on April 27, 1996 in Spokane County.
4. Cecil Emile Davis convicted February 6, 1998 of one count of aggravated first degree murder for the suffocation/asphyxiation murder of Yoshiko Couch, 65, with a poisonous substance after burglarizing her home, robbing and then raping her January 25, 1997 in Pierce County.
5. Dayva Michael Cross convicted June 22, 2001 for the stabbing deaths of his wife Anouchka Baldwin, 37, and stepdaughters Amanda Baldwin, 15, and Salome Holle, 18 in King County on March 6, 1999.
6. Robert Lee Yates Jr. convicted September 19, 2002 of murdering Melinda Mercer, 24, in 1997 and Connie LaFontaine Ellis, 35, in 1998 in Pierce County.
7. Conner Michael Schierman convicted April 12, 2010 of four counts of aggravated first degree murder in the deaths of Olga Milkin, 28; her sons Justin, 5, and Andrew, 3; and her sister, Lyubov Botvina, 24, July 16, 2006 in King County.
8. Allen Eugene Gregory reconvicted May 15, 2012 of first-degree aggravated murder for the rape and murder of 43-year-old Geneine “Genie” Harshfield on July 26, 1996 in Pierce County. Originally convicted and sentenced to death on May 25, 2001, Gregory's case was overturned by the Washington Supreme Court on November 30, 2006. The original charge was upheld in a retrial and the death sentence was reissued on June 13, 2012.
9. Byron Scherf convicted May 9, 2013 of aggravated first-degree murder for the murder of Correctional Officer Jayme Biendl on Jan. 29, 2011 while she was on duty at the Washington State Reformatory Unit of the Monroe Correctional Complex in Snohomish County.
The governor's actions don't sit well with me. Currently, we have some constitutional lawyers looking into this situation to see if anything can be done. I'll keep you posted as I learn more.
As always, please contact me with your questions or concerns or if you're having difficulty with a state agency. I'm here to serve you, the citizens of the 8th Legislative District.