Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are now in Week 7 of the legislative session. Last Friday was policy committee cutoff – which means all policy bills that do not have any fiscal impacts or relate to the budget process are likely “dead” for the session.
A number of my bills have survived the policy committee cutoff and are still moving through the legislative process. Below is a brief overview of my legislation that is still moving. I also provide the details of our upcoming town hall meetings.
Town hall meetings
Sen. Judy Warnick, Rep. Alex Ybarra and I will be hosting town hall meetings in a few weeks. The meeting locations and times are as follows:
Friday, March 22 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Ellensburg City Hall, 501 N. Anderson, Ellensburg
Saturday, March 23 from 10 a.m. to noon
Davenport City Courthouse, 450 Logan, Davenport
(Parking is available on the west side of the entrance. When you enter the building, go to the lower level.)
Saturday, March 23 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Big Bend Community College, ATEC Building 1800
7662 Chanute St. NE, Moses Lake
We look forward to seeing you there.
Rep. Dent with a cowboy hat rack in the Human Services and Early Learning Committee. The chair and committee members gave Dent the gift because he was always losing his hat.
Being the only professional pilot in the Legislature allows me to bring a unique perspective to the Legislature on our aviation issues. This session I have three aviation related bills.
House Bill 1455 would address the shortage of workers in the aeronautics industry by increasing the training and employment of commercial pilots, airline transport pilots, avionics technicians, aircraft maintenance technicians, and certified flight instructors in Washington. The House College and Workforce Development Committee held a public hearing on the bill. Alaska Air and Horizon, Central Washington University, Clover Park Technical College and the Washington Aviation Alliance all testified in strong support of the bill. Last week the committee voted 14-1 to move the bill to the fiscal committee.
House Bill 1456 would establish a community aviation revitalization loan program. I was able to get this bill passed last year but it was vetoed by the governor. I have been working with the governor on a fix. The program is aimed at improving Washington's smaller airports by funding needed capital and preservation projects. The bill would also establish a task force to oversee the program. The bill has been passed by the House Transportation Committee and is now in the Rules Committee.
House Bill 1457 would change current distribution of the aircraft fuel retail tax and reallocate one percent of the total tax revenue to the state aeronautics account. The Transportation Committee may be voting on the bill today (Tuesday).
To watch my video on my aviation bills click on the photo below.
Wildfire related legislation
House Bill 1188 would allow for the formation of Rangeland Fire Protection Associations (RFPAs). It is an opportunity for local landowners to protect their own, and their neighbors' property, where no fire protection services are available. The RFPAs are voluntary, are governed by members of the community and are set up as nonprofits. Idaho and Oregon are utilizing these associations with success. This bill was voted out of the House Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee unanimously. It is now in the House Appropriations Committee.
House Bill 1773 would provide a sales and use tax exemption to rural fire districts for the purchase of fire and emergency medical equipment to help them prevent and suppress wildfires. This is a good cost-saving measure for fire districts who do not have big budgets but need more equipment to respond more quickly and efficiently to wildfires. The bill is currently in the House Finance Committee.
Rep. Dent and the Grant County Fire District.
House Bill 1187 comes from the work of the Ag Forestry group. The bill would eliminate the requirement that eligible conservation district-sponsored fish habitat enhancement projects follow design standards established by the Washington Conservation Commission through an interagency agreement with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Instead, conservation districts would approve the fish habitat enhancement projects. Fish habitat projects have been a high priority in the Legislature as we try to help our recreational and commercial fishermen and address dwindling fish runs and a struggling orca population. This bill passed the House unanimously last week and is headed to the Senate.
House Bill 1725 is the result of the pesticide application safety work group I was part of that met during the interim. This legislation implements the recommendations of the work group including establishing how state agencies collect and track data; and consider the feasibility and requirements of developing a shared database. It also creates an advisory work group to collect information and make recommendations to the committee. The bill has been passed by the Labor and Workplace Standards Committee and has been referred to the Appropriations Committee.
Rep. Dent with Future Farmers of America (FFA) students.
House Bill 1283/Senate Bill 5277 would ensure the funding of agricultural fairs. I have sponsored the House Bill, and Sen. Judy Warnick the Senate Bill. This is important legislation as we need to find a stable funding source. Our fairs are critical to our ag industry and our youth. They educate the public about the production of food and fiber and promote the welfare of farm people and rural living. The Senate Bill is scheduled to be voted out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
House Bill 1392 is an attempt to get our childcare costs under control. It establishes the Cost of Childcare Regulations work group to study financial impacts of licensing regulations of childcare businesses, as well as direct and indirect costs and benefits to childcare providers that are associated with participation in the early learning program. The work group must meet at least five times by Nov. 30, 2019 and must hold two meetings in eastern Washington. The Human Services and Early Learning Committee has passed the bill to the Appropriations Committee.
House Bill 1561 is a bill I sponsored to make sure everyone has a seat at the table on the Oversight Board for the Department of Children, Youth and Families. It adds some seats to the board and ensures that at least five of the board members reside east of the Cascade Mountain range. The bill has been passed by the Human Services and Early Committee and is in the Rules Committee waiting to be pulled to the floor for a vote.
Rep. Dent with childcare providers.
House Bill 1605 would require traumatic brain injury screenings for children entering the foster care system. The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) must evaluate traumatic brain injury screening tools, options for including those tools in existing screens for children in out-of-home care, and treatment actions following identification of traumatic brain injury. The DCYF must provide a report on this evaluation to the Legislature by December 1, 2019. The Human Services and Early Learning Committee passed the bill. It is currently in the Rules Committee awaiting to be pulled to the House floor vote a phone.
House Bill 1866 allows childcare centers to have until August 1, 2024, to comply with changes to professional development requirements after the effective date of the bill. Childcare providers need more time to meet education requirements. Centers are struggling with requirements, and if there are too many requirements, they might go underground or go away. Childcare centers are needed to provide early learning services, and it is important to support them. Childcare centers support this change. The Human Services and Early Learning Committee passed the bill. It is currently in the Rules Committee awaiting to be pulled to the House floor vote a phone.
House Bill 1662 relates to the payment in lieu of property taxes or “PILT” program. The legislation would move the administration of PILT payments from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to the state treasurer. It would also change the PILT rate. If you are not familiar with PILT, the WDFW is exempt from paying property taxes on lands that it owns. However, they provide PILT payments to counties for WDFW-owned lands used for wildlife habitat and public recreation to make up for the loss. Kittitas County receives more PILT funds than any other county in the state. Hopefully this will improve the PILT payment system and counties such as Kittitas will receive the funds they have been scheduled to receive and in a timely manner. This bill passed the Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee. It is now in the Appropriations Committee.
House Bill 1944 comes from our Kittitas County auditor. It would expand the use tax exemption for new Washington residents and nonresident members of the armed forces. The bill has a public hearing scheduled in the House Finance Committee.
House Bill 1816 would make the personal property tax and aircraft excise tax exemptions for aircraft owned by nonprofit organizations to provide emergency medical transportation services permanent. The bill is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Finance Committee.
This week the fiscal committees will wrap up their hearings. Then we will be on the House floor voting on bills from March 1 – 13, sending them to the Senate for consideration.
I hope you find this update informative. Please continue to stay in touch with any comments, questions or concerns you have on any of the issues before us.
It is an honor to serve as your state representative.