Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Week two of the legislative session has come to an end. Thank you to those who provided feedback on my email update on the proposed gun legislation. With the large number of bills being proposed on the subject I thought it was important to share that information as soon as I could.
The first two weeks of session have been filled with committee hearings, constituents meetings and work on my bills. Here is an update on some of the legislation I would like to get through the legislative process this session
Affordable child care
I continue to hear from parents who want and need affordable child care and providers who are struggling with increased state rules and regulations. My House Bill 2556 would simplify the requirements for our early learning teachers to address the workforce shortage and create a task force to analyze and possibly alleviate the burdens put upon our child care centers from overregulation. This would be beneficial to the child care industry and the parents who are in desperate need of quality and affordable child care. The bill has a public hearing today (Tuesday) in the House Human Services and Early Learning Committee. Click here to watch my video with Ellensburg child care provider Mechelle Moran, owner and director of Creative Kids Learning Center, and learn about the challenges she and others are facing.
Accountability – Department of Children, Youth and Families
In 2018, the Legislature passed legislation creating a new agency, Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), to assume responsibility of child welfare, early learning functions and juvenile justice programs previously administered by the Department of Social and Health Services.
Unfortunately, DCYF has not implemented the internal review process for child care facility licensing compliance agreements required under the new agency law.
I have introduced legislation, House Bill 2790, to ensure DCYF is following through on their internal review process for licensing compliance agreements, as well as add the review process for foster care licensing. We need to make sure DCYF is being held accountable, and also ensure the review process is in place for the foster care system. It is imperative we have this process in place to keep some accountability and oversight in the department.
Improving airport infrastructure
House Bill 1457 would redirect 1% of the 6.5% sales tax on aviation fuel into the aviation grant program account to help address our aviation infrastructure needs. The monies would help to leverage Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) grant money for much needed dollars to maintain and improve our aviation infrastructure. The projects this money will support will provide tax revenue that would more than offset the money we receive from the 1% tax shift. This is a WIN-WIN for the more than $100 billion Washington state aerospace sector!
Misbranding of meat and poultry products
In the world of ever-changing diets and the search for meat substitutes, some meat and poultry products are not being labeled correctly. My House Bill 2696 simply states if a product is not meat it must be labeled “this product does not contain meat.” Misbranded food cannot be sold, processed, stored or received if it is in intrastate commerce. If anyone is in violation of this provision the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) may impose civil or criminal penalties. This bill is scheduled for a public hearing in the Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee on Wednesday at 8 a.m.
Ag Forestry legislation
House Bill 1187 is a bill I introduced last year. It came from my work with the Ag Forestry group and passed the House unanimously. However, it did not make it out of the Senate. The legislation 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 are 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. I am working to ensure this bill will make it to the governor's desk this year.
Follow the Legislature during the session. Below are a few helpful links that can keep you informed and updated on what is happening in Olympia.
- The Washington State Ledger: It is a legislative news aggregator administered by state House Republicans. It is a great source for information related to state government, public policy and the legislative process. Check it out!
- My legislative website: You will find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, videos, opinion pieces, bills, and other information.
- Capitol Report and radio interviews: Here you can find my weekly three-minute radio program on important issues I'm working on in Olympia. All my radio interviews during session are also posted here.
- TVW: The state's own version of C-SPAN, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about legislative issues before us this year please do not hesitate to contact me. Your feedback is important as we consider the many issues that impact our communities and state.
It is an honor to serve as your state representative.