Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are now 68 days into the 105-day legislative session. We will soon be seeing the House Democrats' two-year operating budget proposal, which we're hearing may exceed existing revenues. If that is indeed the case, that means they're setting a foundation for tax increases, which are completely unnecessary.
The state is bringing in an additional $3 billion for the 2015-17 budget cycle, which is an 8 percent increase from the current budget cycle. We do not have a revenue problem, but a spending problem, and with this additional $3 billion, we have a great opportunity to make state government more efficient, streamlined and responsive.
An update on legislation
House Bill 1527, which would provide a more efficient way for pesticide licensees to become recertified, was unanimously voted out of committee and is now awaiting further consideration in the Senate Rules Committee.
House Bill 1989, which would help small cities manage the costs of managing their water storage assets, was also passed out of committee unanimously and awaits further consideration in the Senate Rules Committee.
House Bill 2046, which would establish a definition of “streams” in the Shoreline Management Act, had a hearing on Wednesday and is awaiting further action.
Additionally, as I mentioned in my last update, House Bill 1526, my bill to require all aircraft excise tax revenue to be deposited in the aeronautics account, has been deemed “necessary to implement the budget” (NTIB). NTIB bills are exempt from all cutoff dates and remain alive through the budget negotiation process.
Another bill I'm actively working on is Senate Bill 5733, which would establish an electronic livestock transaction reporting system. This legislation is specific to dairy cows, and would help limit economic strain should an outbreak of a cattle disease occur. It is important we have an effective and accurate system in place to track infected cattle.
Finally, I want to let you know I am working hard to see that Joel's Law is signed into law this year. This piece of legislation would change many, many lives for the better by providing a more efficient way for the family members of mentally ill individuals to get them the help they need. Meeting Doug and Nancy Reuter (read their story here) had a tremendous impact on me, and I am committed to doing everything I can to ensure their son's tragic death in 2013 was not in vain.
Drought emergency declared for Central Washington
You may have seen my email update on Monday covering Gov. Inslee's drought declaration for Central Washington, but if you missed it, here are the key details:
- Gov. Inslee has declared a drought emergency on the Olympic Peninsula, on the east side of the central Cascade Mountains, including Yakima and Wenatchee, and the Walla Walla region.
- The Washington State Department of Ecology has requested $9 million in drought relief from the Legislature. The money would pay for agricultural and fisheries projects, emergency water-right permits, changes to existing water rights, and grant water-right transfers.
- Ecology has been working with municipalities to review the 62 watersheds in Washington state, several of which are in the 13th District. Thirty-four of the state's watersheds are projected to have less than 75 percent normal supply.
I look forward to working with the governor, as well as local, state and federal agencies in order to assist those most affected by this emergency.
Kids Kaucus up and running
One of my biggest priorities as a legislator is ensuring our kids have every opportunity to succeed in life. That's the reason I created the Kids Kaucus, which brings together legislators and folks from the private and public sector to discuss ways in which we can improve youth services in our state. Our first meeting was on Tuesday, and we will continue to meet on a bi-weekly basis until session adjourns.
I will have more on the Kids Kaucus in my next update. Stay tuned!
Telephone town hall on Monday!
On Monday, March 23, I will be hosting a telephone town hall with my fellow 13th District lawmakers, Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, and Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg.
The call will be from 6-7 p.m., and the format will be similar to a call-in radio show during which you will have the opportunity to ask us questions and participate in surveys. To participate, please call (509) 895-5003 during the event.
I look forward to hearing from you!
In my most recent video update from the House floor, I discuss my bills, the drought emergency declared by Gov. Inslee, and a few events coming up in the 13th District I look forward to attending. Take a look!
If you are unable to participate in the telephone town hall, please feel free to call or email me any time with comments, questions or concerns. It's important for me to hear your ideas on how we can work to solve the issues not only facing our district, but our state as well. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and my phone number is (360) 786-7932.
It is an honor to serve you in the state House of Representatives.