Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Occasionally I hear from people who want to know why I don't send newsletters in the mail to people's homes. The main reason is cost. I want to save taxpayers money, so I use these e-mail updates to convey information on what I'm working on or what the Legislature is considering. For that reason, I hope you'll forward these updates with your friends, family and co-workers, even if it means printing them out for our friends less inclined to use technology!
We are now in the third week of the 60-day session. I've been disappointed at the lack of urgency on the budget, especially since we were just in session in December. That was supposed to give budget writers a head start, but it seems we are once again stalled.
I am joining my Republican colleagues in the House to work on our own budget proposal, starting with funding education first. We are adamant that we can fully fund education without asking you to increase the state sales tax. The House Education Appropriations and Oversight Committee will have a hearing on bi-partisan legislation to fund education first on Tuesday, Jan. 31 at 8 a.m. You can watch the public hearing live on your computer here.
During the interim (summer and fall 2011), I heard from many who were concerned about the Discover Pass, the new fee to use parks. While I voted against this legislation last year, it is now being implemented and I want to help fix some of the flaws with how the fee was administered. There are several proposals moving here in the House:
- House Bill 2153 would allow you to use one pass for two vehicles. It's common sense, but must be put into law.
- House Bill 2373 would move the administration of the pass under just one state agency, among other things. Right now, three agencies oversee the Discover Pass!
- House Bill 2217 would ensure that the total cost for the pass would $30 for an annual pass or $10 for day use of a park. Dealer and administrative fees were costing people more than advertised, causing some to feel that they were “hidden” charges.
All of these proposals will be heard in the House General Government Appropriations and Oversight Committee (on which I serve). I'll keep you updated as the ideas move forward.
Here are some of the proposals I am working on right now, including one transparency bill I mentioned to you in my last e-mail:
- House Bill 2440 would allow the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) the ability to fight wildfires on land managed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW). This will create more cooperation between the agencies and help to better manage public lands. You can read more about the bill, which may be considered by the full House soon, here.
- House Bill 2478 would create student auditing committees at every four-year public institution in the state. As a father of two children in college and another on her way, I understand the vested interest students have in ensuring their universities are run efficiently. You can read about the public hearing held this week here.
- House Bill 2480 would require scientific information used by local governments to comply with the Growth Management Act be peer-reviewed. I think it's important for people to have confidence that the evidence used by their government is scientifically sound and based on industry-recognized evidence.
- House Bill 2310 would create efficiencies for a group of public and private water purveyors that serve 300,000 Pierce County residents.
If you ever want to testify on legislation or have hard questions you think I should ask of bill sponsors or agency heads, let me know. I always enjoy hearing from you; your input is important as I work to represent your voice in Olympia.
It's a privilege to serve you.