Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Legislature recently passed the halfway point of the 60-day legislative session, and the first two major deadlines, the house-of-origin policy and fiscal committee cutoff dates. This means policy and fiscal bills that were not voted out of their respective committees in the chamber (House or Senate) where they were introduced, are likely “dead” for the session. Bills necessary to implement the budget (NTIB) are exempt.
Addressing the child care crisis
Passing the cutoff dates is important, because as I mentioned in my last email update, I have been pushing hard for a public hearing on my House Bill 2300, which would delay some of the requirements for child care providers related to certification and training qualifications.
It was not scheduled for a hearing before the policy committee cutoff, so unless some extraordinary circumstances take place, it is dead. I have been told, that as a courtesy, the bill may get a hearing when the Senate bills come over to us in the House. However, it is not going anywhere and this does not help our child care industry address its crisis.
Giving up is not in my DNA. I am here to make a difference and I am passionate about our children. I will continue to work on this issue through the interim.
Update on my other bills
I had two bills survive the committee cutoff dates, both came out of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
House Bill 2302 would extend the Pesticide Application Safety Committee until 2035. When we created the committee, an expiration date of 2025 was set. The committee is working well, so we want to leave it in place. This bill passed the House unanimously on Thursday and is now headed to the Senate for consideration.
House Bill 2147 would help provide more reliable and readily available funding to prevent, quickly detect, and rapidly respond to emerging threats from agricultural pests and diseases. This could be voted on by the House of Representatives at any time.
Mental health for our agricultural industry. I am also working on a budget proviso that would put together a workgroup so we could take a close look at the most effective way to aide our farmers and workers in the agricultural community with mental health issues. Agricultural has the highest suicide rate of any sector in the country, at 3.5 times higher than the next sector. It is very important that we address this issue with real solutions.
Virtual Town Hall meeting
To give you an update on the legislative session and answer your questions, I am co-hosting a 13th District virtual town hall meeting with my seatmates, Sen. Judy Warnick, and Rep. Alex Ybarra, on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 6 p.m.
Preregistration is required for this Zoom-hosted event. During the hour-long meeting, we will answer questions and discuss some of the public policy topics being considered, debated, and decided in Olympia. Click here to register. You will be able to submit written questions during the registration process. You can also sign up by going to my webpage.
No movement on the six initiatives
Almost five weeks through the legislative session and there is still no indication the majority party is going to schedule public hearings on the six initiatives before the Legislature.
Our caucus has made every effort to give Washington’s citizens a chance to voice their concerns. Earlier this week, our ranking members and assistant ranking members sent letters to House committee chairs and vice chairs requesting public hearings on the six certified initiatives now before the Legislature. There has been no response. Click here for more information.
Here is a rundown of the initiatives:
- Initiative 2113 would restore the authority of police to pursue fleeing suspects.
- Initiative 2117 would repeal the Climate Commitment Act and its cap-and-trade program.
- Initiative 2081 would establish parental rights in K-12 education.
- Initiative 2109 would repeal the income tax on capital gains.
- Initiative 2111 would prohibit further efforts to impose an income tax.
- Initiative 2124 would allow Washington workers to opt-out of a mandatory and deeply flawed long-term care insurance program, as well as the payroll tax that goes with it.
Regardless of your stance on these initiatives, they deserve a public hearing. With a reported approximate 2.6 million signatures, it is clear citizens across the state feel these are important issues.
Our caucus continues to push priorities that address public safety, the drug crisis, housing and homelessness, affordability, child care and other issues. I shared statistics and facts in my first email update this session. For a review on the crises facing our state, watch the short video below.
One of the best things about being a legislator is all the people you get to meet. This week, I was able to meet AgForestry student Jackie Hancock. I commend those who go through the program. The AgForestry Leadership program is considered a premier leadership development program in Washington state. It offers experiential learning for folks who work in forestry, agriculture, and other natural resource-based businesses. Those who participate in the program spend a week in Washington, D.C., and a couple weeks in a selected foreign country.
Quincy student pages in the House
I was pleased to sponsor Quincy student Julianna Lambert the second week of the legislative session. It is great to have students page during the session so they can get a firsthand look at how our state government works. The House Page Program is a wonderful opportunity for students between the ages of 14 and 16.
Pages earn $65 per day while serving in the program and can also earn up to 20 hours of community service. Applicants who need financial assistance for the expense of traveling and staying in Olympia may also apply for the Gina Grant Bull Memorial Legislative Page Scholarship, which helps to offset expenses.
Stay in touch
I hope you are following what is happening in Olympia. Many important issues are before us. Here are some websites to help keep you informed.
- RepresentativeTomDent.com | From this link, you can get more information about me, the bills I’ve sponsored and view my news releases as well as current and past email updates.
- Capitol Report | My weekly three-minute radio program, or podcast, on important issues I’m working on in Olympia.
- Sign-up for The Week Ahead | A weekly compilation from House Republicans featuring important committee hearings, with links and other details for your reference.
- Sign-up for The Capitol Buzz | A weekday summary of online news stories from across the state.
- Bookmark the Washington State Ledger | A legislative news aggregator.