Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I invite you to read my newsletter review of the 2012 sessions here. This includes information about the operating and capital budgets, legislation I worked on and changes to the Discover Pass. Another interesting bit of information is the fact that of the four reforms passed this year, Republicans cast far more votes in favor than Democrats for legislation that will provide transparency, fiscal stability and honesty to taxpayers.
If you have additional questions about action taken in the Legislature this year, feel free to contact my office using the contact information at the end of this letter.
Each year, four students are selected from each legislative district to be honored as Washington Scholars. Representing the 2nd District this year are:
- Haley Bronson, from Graham Kapowsin High School;
- Daphne Chen, from Henry Foss High School;
- Adam Sutmiller, from River Ridge High School; and
- Cameron Campbell, from Rainier Senior High School.
All have been accepted to colleges or universities, with areas of study from business to math to engineering. I am proud of these students, who are all in the top 1 percent of their class, and who exhibit academic achievement, leadership and community service. They are truly the future of this state, and I applaud their hard work and the goals they have set for themselves.
Population forecast and employment
Right now, the Office of Financial Management (OFM) is developing projections of population growth in individual counties in Washington. These numbers guide local governments as they work within the Growth Management Act (GMA) to carry out urban and rural planning required by law.
Pierce and Thurston counties are expecting to see growth, but a great deal less than what was originally projected in 2007. The original projections were used to justify greater bureaucracy and regulations. Now the problem isn't growth, it's lack of growth.
What does this mean for our rural areas? We must change our thinking. In the past, more regulations were passed due to high growth. In our current economic situation, shouldn't we be working harder to remove barriers to growth? Many of the requirements for local planning are focused on transportation and the assumption that more people will be commuting. But what if we had more opportunities for people to work where they live again? Several of our 2nd District towns have become bedroom communities. What if people didn't have to commute as far to find career-oriented, stable jobs?
Getting Washington working again has been one of the top goals of House Republicans for the past few years. As such, we have introduced and supported a list of bills that would help job creators provide more opportunities for hardworking taxpayers.
1. Simplify and reduce the number of tax rates for small businesses – House Bill 2290.
3. Establish consistent standards for permits with decisions required within 90 days – House Bill 1961.
4. Recognize hydropower as a renewable energy – House Bill 1125.
5. Adopt liability reform – House Bill 1779.
6. Place a moratorium on new regulations – House Bill 2276.
7. Make unfunded state mandates optional for local governments – House Bill 2834 passed the Legislature, and I voted “yes.”
Since many of these bills did not pass, more work has yet to be done, and I remain committed to making Washington a better place for small businesses.
What I'm up to this summer and fall
During the interim (the time between sessions), my priority will be to promote rural employment. I will continue to serve on the Legislative Committee on Economic Development and International Relations. The Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, on which I serve, will be holding a work session on crops in Western Washington. My greatest desire is for our state to create an environment where more people can work more in rural areas again.
Recently I attended the Road to Paradise Wine Festival – it was a fun event and great to meet with all of the small business owners and residents. Please let me know of festivals and events in your town – I would love to attend!
It's important to me that I have an open dialogue with you and listen to your concerns and suggestions. However, due to election-year restrictions, this will be my last e-mail update to you from my legislative office until December. I can still reply to phone calls and e-mails, so feel free to contact my office at the information below.
It's an honor to serve as your state representative.