Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We're now in the fifth week of session in Olympia. I'd like to take this opportunity to fill you in on some of the legislative repercussions of two initiatives that passed in the 2014 election.
Also, I encourage you to take part in a telephone town hall hosted by my 2nd District seatmate, Rep. Graham Hunt, and me this Wednesday, Feb. 11, from 6 to 7 p.m. You can participate by calling (253) 561-0172. You'll have the opportunity to ask questions and vote in polls. We look forward to talking with you!
UPDATE ON INITIATIVES
Last November, voters approved two statewide initiatives: I-1351, which requires smaller class sizes, and I-594, which requires background checks on all gun sales. Both measures failed in the 2nd District.
Statewide, I-1351 passed 50.96 percent to 49.04 percent. In the 2nd District, it failed 52.12 percent to 47.88 percent.
On I-594, the statewide vote was 59.27 percent “yes” to 40.73 percent “no.” In the 2nd District it was 58.66 percent “no” to 41.34 percent “yes.”
Additionally, total voter turnout statewide in the 2014 General Election was 54.16 percent. Voter turnout in the 2nd District was 47.1 percent.
Class size initiative: huge cost involved
There are two problems with I-1351: First, it ignored the wealth of research that shows reduced class sizes improve student achievement in grades K through 3, but not beyond those grades. The initiative mandates smaller class sizes all the way through grade 12.
Second, I-1351 is extremely expensive. It would cost $4.7 billion over the next four years. We don't have the physical capacity to hire all the new staff the initiative demands, so there would be an extra cost for new construction. In order to fully comply with I-1351, huge tax hikes would be required.
The astronomically high costs, coupled with questionable benefits past third grade, is why the initiative garnered bipartisan opposition.
As we work on a plan for K-12 funding and reform to comply with the state Supreme Court's McCleary decision (fully funding education by 2018), we will have to grapple with the issue of what to do about I-1351. As always, I welcome your ideas.
Gun background checks
Many responsible gun owners are concerned about the repercussions of I-594, the background check measure. One of its provisions, forbidding the handing off of firearms to people outside of one's immediate family, could mean that:
- A woman who has filed a restraining order, protection order, or no-contact order because she is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or harassment will not be able to temporarily obtain a firearm from someone to defend herself against a serious, ominous threat;
- Responsible gun owners and firearms safety instructors will not be able to share firearms on a bonafide range because it would be considered a transfer requiring a check that would take days;
- Veterans who have been honorably discharged from military service will not be able to use issued firearms with honor guards for a funeral or flag ceremony.
House Republicans will be proposing legislation to fix problems in the law so we aren't making criminals out of law-abiding citizens. I will keep you updated on those bills.
- I recently had the pleasure of meeting with folks from the Pierce County Library system. We had a great talk and learned about the amazing applications and online tools people can use.
- Last month, Sumner High School student Samuel McGuire (pictured at right) came to Olympia for a week to serve as a page. He did a great job and I appreciate his and all the other pages' willingness to serve.
Do you have questions or concerns about the Legislature, or state government? Please don't hesitate to contact my office — my Legislative Aide, Sharon, and I are here to serve you!