Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Legislature is now more than half-way through its 60-day session.
Tuesday, Feb. 14 was an important deadline for House bills to be voted out of the House, or they are considered “dead” for the year.
I'm excited that two of my bills passed the House and now move to the Senate:
- 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 is a good efficiency measure to help protect more rural land.
- When a proposed development project has been determined to affect a wetland, there are several options for project proponents to offset or mitigate for loss or harm to wetlands. House Bill 2238 would provide another option, but not a new requirement, for offsite mitigation. This will help fund programs that pay private landowners if they choose to voluntarily participate in conservation programs.
Unfortunately, House Bill 2478, which would have created student auditing committees at every four-year public institution in the state, did not survive. This was a simple bill to allow students, the greatest consumers (and payers) of higher education services, a greater say in budget efficiencies. I'm disappointed the chair of the committee did not allow it to move forward.
Next, the House will consider Senate bills which passed, and vice-versa.
This bill deadline excludes the budget, of course, and any bills necessary to implement that budget. My House Republican colleagues will be proposing the first operating budget of the session tomorrow. I'll provide details in my next e-mail, but you can also visit houserepublicans.wa.gov for updates.
In my last e-mail, I wrote you to about funding education first. The education budget (House Bill 2770) proposed by House Republicans will not raise taxes and through a process of prioritization would:
- fully fund levy equalization ($600 million);
- fund a full 180-day school year;
- maintain current funding for all-day kindergarten;
- fund education reforms and accountability; and
- budget $580 million more in education than the governor's budget proposal.
In addition, this budget would not count on a one-time apportionment payment shift as the governor's budget does. I think a key component of this budget are the reforms and accountability measures built in. This includes:
- House Bill 1414 would allow school districts to waive certain unfunded mandates.
- House Bill 2427 would implement revised teacher/principal evaluation systems.
- House Bill 2165 would provide professional development for the new teacher/principal evaluation system.
- House Bill 2506 would provide flexibility and accountability for bilingual and learning assistance programs.
These reforms are important for you to have confidence that the Legislature is spending your money wisely. Unfortunately, the majority party did not take the concept of funding education first seriously. None of the above proposals survived past the deadline because the majority party did not move them forward. However, a version of the teacher evaluation bill did move out of the Senate, and I look forward to learning more about that.
Join me for a town hall meeting this weekend!
Though we have been working many long days and nights leading up to the recent deadline to move House bills out of the House, it's important for me to take a break and check in with you. That's why I'm hosting several town halls throughout our 2nd District with one of my seatmates, Senator Randi Becker. I hope you'll join us for one of these meetings:
Saturday, Feb. 18
- 9 – 10 a.m.: Orting Chamber of Commerce – 202 Washington Ave. South
- 11 a.m. – noon: Graham Fire Station – 23014 70th Ave. E
- 2 – 3 p.m.: Eatonville Community Center – 305 Center Street W, Eatonville
- 4 – 5 p.m.: Yelm Public Safety Building – 206 McKenzie Ave. SE
One of my favorite things about being a legislator is talking face-to-face with, and answering questions from, those I represent while I'm in Olympia.
If you can't attend one of these meetings, or you want to contact my office anytime, my contact information is below. It is important to me and my legislative assistant, Sharon, to respond to your questions and comments in a timely manner.
It's an honor to represent you.