Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We're at the halfway point of the 2016 session! It's been a busy past week for me as a member of the House Appropriations Committee. Most fiscal bills eventually voted on by the House must first go through the Appropriations Committee, so we worked well into the night Monday and Tuesday to get our work done.
Since Wednesday morning, the full body has been voting on dozens of bills. Next Wednesday is house of origin cutoff, which means all House bills must pass the House or be considered dead for the year. We have some long days ahead of us to work our way through these bills.
An update on my bills
House Bill 1888 would transfer certification responsibilities for chemical dependency treatment programs from the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to the Department of Health (DOH). While this bill has been introduced a number of times in the past, this is the first time it has come out of committee. While it will not receive a floor vote, I am confident we will be able to put together legislation through the interim working with DSHS, DOH and the treatment centers to solve the concerns of the treatment center community.
House Bill 2413 would remove the existing penalty structure for late aircraft registration and replace it with a single $100 penalty if a registration is 60 days or more past due. This bill is in the House Rules Committee, which means it may come up for a floor vote.
House Bill 2924 would authorize the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to equip firefighters and fire vehicles with real-time GPS locaters. The Seattle Times wrote an article about the bill last week.
House Bill 2925 would allow people to access public lands to save their livestock in the event of a fire, so long as they didn't interfere with active fire responders. This bill was recently covered by the Capital Press.
Both HB 2924 and HB 2925 are supported by DNR, and I feel good about the prospects of both bills getting to the floor for a vote.
Meeting with constituents
As I did last session, I've made a point of meeting with as many groups as I can this session.
I recently met with Washington Farm Bureau members from Lincoln, Grant and Kittitas counties. Our discussion was centered around issues such as the damage elk are causing to crops, the port slowdown, and water.
School administrators from Educational Service Districts 101, 105, and 171 were recently in Olympia to meet with members and discuss important issues pertaining to their schools. School bonds, assessment testing, budget shortfalls, and having the ability to plan and build a school that could accommodate expected future enrollment were among the items discussed.
The past two weeks, I have sat down with four doctors from around the state to discuss depression screening for our children. Diet, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and a change in family structure are all factors that may put our young people at risk for depression and other mental health issues. The time spent with these medical professionals was incredibly valuable. I want to thank Dr. Matt Thompson of Spokane, Dr. LeLach Rave of Everett, Dr. Jill Bross of Moses Lake and Dr. Andrea Carter of Moses Lake for coming down to Olympia.
Finally, I recently met with 50 students from the Latino/a Educational Achievement Project (see photo on the right) who came from the Moses Lake and Warden school districts. We discussed some of the pressing needs in their schools, including class sizes, late buses for students who stay after school for tutoring, construction of a new high school, and bonds and levies.
After session, we are planning to meet in Moses Lake with these young people and members of the school board to help them understand the entire education process. I'm looking forward to that meeting.
Please continue to get in touch with me with any comments, questions or concerns. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is (360) 786-7932.
It is an honor to serve you.