Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are almost one month into the 2015 legislative session, and I wanted to provide you with an update about what's been happening over the past couple of weeks.
Update on legislation
Last week, the House passed its first two bills of the session. The first was House Bill 1258, also known as Joel's Law. Joel Reuter was a mentally ill man who was shot and killed by a police sniper in 2013 after suffering a manic episode and firing a handgun at police. Joel's parents, Doug and Nancy, said that they had tried for months to have a designated mental health professional recommend to a judge that Joel should be involuntarily held at a hospital for treatment. Their efforts tragically failed.
If passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, HB 1258 would change the law to allow family members of mentally ill individuals to petition the courts for their involuntary treatment. Washington is currently one of seven states that doesn't allow that to happen. I had the privilege of speaking in support of HB 1258 and telling my own story, and was proud that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle voted unanimously in favor of the bill. This is just the first step, but it is an important step in improving our state's mental health system. Joel's parents have asked me to testify in support of the bill when testimony is heard in the Senate, and I look forward to having the opportunity to do that next week.
The other vote we took was on House Bill 1105, to approve the nearly $300 million supplemental operating budget. I voted in support of the budget, which provides funding for the eastern Washington wildfires and Oso landslide, an increase in mental health treatment capacities, children's services and other emergency services. It passed 83-15 in the House.
Three bills I'm sponsoring were heard in House committees this week. House Bill 1526, which has broad bipartisan support, was heard in the House Appropriations Committee. The legislation requires all aircraft excise tax revenue to be deposited in the aeronautics account, which was the original intent of the account. House Bill 1527 was heard in the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee, and is now scheduled for an executive session next week. The bill will help streamline the pesticide recertification process for pesticide applicators. Finally, House Bill 1708, which limits the reach of the Shoreline Management Act by excluding irrigation ditches, canals, or drainage and other return flow conveyances, was heard in the House Local Government Committee.
I sit down with John Sattgast every week here at the Capitol to discuss the latest happenings in the Legislature. These Capitol Report segments are broadcast on radio stations that air in the 13th District, and are always posted on my caucus web site. Take a listen to the latest report!
In my latest video update, I talked about what I've enjoyed most about being a legislator thus far, updates on the bills I'm sponsoring, the main issues that have been coming up in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, and more. Take a look!
Letter to President Obama
The West Coast port slowdown has already cost our state's fruit industry tens of millions of dollars, and now there's news that all of the West Coast ports could shut down completely next week due to the ongoing labor dispute. My fellow 13th District lawmakers and I recently wrote a letter to President Obama asking him to intervene to bring the labor dispute to an end. There are thousands of jobs and billions of dollars on the line for Washington state, and the time for the president to act is now.
Meet my legislative assistant, Marge Plumage
I have the best legislative assistant at the Capitol, and I wanted to introduce her to you all. Marge Plumage started at the Capitol in 1994, working for then-Rep. Gary Chandler, who represented the 13th District in the House until 2001. About her role as a legislative assistant, Marge says:
“My favorite part about this job is helping the people who call in with certain issues relating to state agencies that aren't working for them. I also enjoy working on children's issues, and advocating for their well-being whenever I can.”
I could not do my job as effectively without Marge, and I want to thank her so much for all of her hard work.
Thank you to all of you who have contacted my office and visited me since I've been in here in the Legislature. Please keep the phone calls, letters and emails coming. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at (360) 786-7932. I want to hear from you as much as possible as the legislative session continues.