Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I had hoped we would be able to finish our work on time this session, but unfortunately, that hasn't happened. We are now in a 30-day special session because House and Senate negotiators were not able to come to an agreement on the 2016 supplemental operating budget by the March 10 deadline.
While we are all disappointed, Gov. Inslee decided to express his disappointment by vetoing 27 of the 37 bills that came to his desk to be signed into law. Washingtonians work hard with their legislators to get bills passed, so for the governor to veto 27 of them simply because there is no agreement on a supplemental budget is really unfortunate. This kind of blanket veto is also unprecedented in Washington state history. We'll likely have to reintroduce and pass those bills, which will take more time and effort. I'm not sure what the governor hoped to gain by making such a decision, but I'm quite confident the only result will have been to slow the process down.
With regard to the supplemental operating budget, the major hiccup is the nearly $120 million in tax increases proposed in the House budget. With the downturn in the revenue forecast, we must live within our means. The operating budget we passed last year increased spending by more than 10 percent above the previous budget cycle. That is a large increase, so to now add millions more in new taxes without taking into account the four-year balanced budget requirement, does not strike me as wise. The bottom line is we need to stay focused, pay for last year's fires and other urgent expenses, and then go home to serve our constituents in district.
The latest on my bills
I have introduced several bills over the past two sessions aimed at reforming current laws and establishing new laws to better serve you. Last year, two of my bills were signed into law – House Bill 1527 and House Bill 1989. This year, two more of my bills are on the governor's desk waiting to be signed into law:
House Bill 2413 would remove excessive penalties and enable the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to levy a single $100 penalty on individuals whose aircraft registrations were 60 days or more past due. This bill passed 98-0 in the House and 45-1 in the Senate.
House Bill 2925 would require the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to allow citizens to access public lands to save their livestock in the event of a wildfire. This bill passed 97-1 in the House and 47-0 in the Senate. It was covered extensively by the Yakima Herald the other day. You can read their story here.
Please continue to get in touch with me with your ideas about how we can work together to solve some of the challenges facing our district and the state. I cannot do my job as effectively without hearing your concerns and working with you to address them.
Speaking at the Washington State Aviation Alliance annual conference
I had the opportunity to deliver some remarks at the Washington State Aviation Alliance's annual conference in Bellevue yesterday. I talked about the future of aviation in Washington state, and about the opportunities ahead of us to expand our aviation footprint. I also discussed the looming pilot shortage. In the next 10 years, we will likely be facing a shortage of 20,000 airline pilots. We need to tackle that problem now by intensifying our training and working with the FAA to put well-qualified and well-trained people in the cockpit more quickly.
I also discussed the utilization of drones, and how it's important that we solve regulatory challenges so the state can use them more effectively. Take wildfires, for example. Instead of human beings putting themselves at risk on the ground looking for fire starts, we should have drones flying above and scanning for potential danger. We can and should use technology to our advantage.
Television interview with Dana Cowley
Last month, I had the opportunity to sit down with Dana Cowley of Charter Local Edition Northwest for an interview about wildfire issues, as well as some legislation I've sponsored. Click the image below to take a look!
Recent radio interviews
I have appeared on several radio shows this session to discuss my agenda, as well as to provide the latest on the legislative session. If you click the image below, you can access every radio appearance.
Please continue to get in touch with me with any comments, questions or concerns. My email address is email@example.com and my phone number is (360) 786-7932 in Olympia and (509) 766-6682 at my district office in Moses Lake.
It is an honor to serve as your state representative.