Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Legislature is still in a special session and frustratingly, negotiations still have not taken place. Jerry Cornfield from The Herald reported this morning, “Democratic and Republican envoys from the caucuses in both chambers met for several hours Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss — not negotiate — roughly 830 differences in the two-year spending plans passed by the Democrat-controlled House and Republican-run Senate.”
The special session deadline is May 28, and if negotiators cannot find agreements on the operating, capital and transportation budgets, as well as a transportation funding package, a second special session will be required. I truly hope that does not happen.
The state's chief economist is expected to provide an updated revenue forecast on Monday, which will provide some more clarity for both sides and may spur negotiations.
Two of my bills signed into law
Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee signed two of my bills into law – House Bill 1527 and House Bill 1989.
House Bill 1527 will provide a more efficient way for pesticide licensees to become recertified. Every five years, licensees must demonstrate they meet the recertification standards to qualify for continued licensure by earning 40 recertification credits. These credits are earned by attending Washington State Department of Agriculture-approved courses. With the passage of House Bill 1527, the WSDA may now waive the recertification requirements if the licensee demonstrates they're meeting comparable recertification standards through another state, jurisdiction or government agency plan approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. This bill will streamline the ability for pesticide applicators to get recertification credits, which is a small but very important change to current law that will help the entire industry.
From left: Myself; my wife, Dayna; my son, Monte; Ben Moehrle; Juli Tuson; John Rylaarsdam.
My other bill signed into law by Gov. Inslee was House Bill 1989, which will allow municipalities to contract for asset management services for their water storage assets, such as water tanks, towers, wells, meters and filters. I sponsored this bill on behalf of the city of Quincy, which is seeking to procure long-term maintenance service contracts for their water storage assets. The bill allows them to do that, with the goal of providing stability to the city's budgeting. This legislation will not only provide more autonomy to cities, but it will also save taxpayer dollars by allowing for long-term management agreements instead of simply contracting out for each individual service need.
From left: Scott Cave; myself; my wife, Dayna; Kyle Lynch; my son, Monte; Sen. Judy Warnick; Hannah Castro.
Another bill that was signed into law last week that I was a passionate advocate for was Sen. Judy Warnick's Senate Bill 5733. The bill will allow an electronic livestock transaction reporting system to be established in Washington state. Having an effective and accurate system in place to track diseased cattle is important for the safety of the public and the growth of our economy, so I was glad to see the bill signed into law.
'Joel's Law' signed into law Thursday
Before coming to Olympia, I did not know how urgent the need was for mental health reform in Washington state. I had not heard Doug and Nancy Reuter's story of how their mentally ill son Joel was shot and killed by a SWAT officer after suffering a manic episode and firing a handgun. I wasn't aware they had tried for months to help their son by having a designated mental health professional recommend to a judge that he be involuntarily held at a hospital for treatment.
That all changed in late January when House Bill 1258 (Joel's Law) came up for discussion during a caucus meeting. The goal of the bill was to change the law to allow family members of mentally ill individuals to petition the courts for their involuntary treatment. Washington was one of seven states that wasn't allowing that to happen.
When the bill came to the House floor for a vote, I decided to speak for a few minutes in support of it and to tell my own story. Doug and Nancy saw my speech online and asked to meet with me to discuss additional ways I could help advocate for the bill's passage. Meeting them changed my life tremendously. They helped open my eyes to our state's flawed mental health system, and because of that meeting, I have become a passionate and dedicated advocate for mental health reforms.
Following the unanimous vote in support of Joel's Law in the House, the Senate passed the companion bill, Senate Bill 5269, with a 92-5 vote, and the governor signed the bill yesterday. Afterward, I shared a private moment with the governor and thanked him for signing it.
My goal in serving as a state representative is to make people's lives better. If there is a piece of legislation I can sponsor or support that will save lives and make families stronger, you can be sure I will be working to see it passed into law. I was so proud to be at the bill signing for Joel's Law yesterday.
I want to thank Doug and Nancy Reuter for changing my life, for changing my priorities, and for working tirelessly to make sure no more parents lose a mentally ill family member prematurely.
Please continue to keep in touch with any questions, comments or concerns you may have. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number in Olympia is (360) 786-7932. If you want to reach my district office, please call (509) 766-6682.
It is an honor to serve you in the Legislature.