Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have reached day 39 of the 105-day legislative session. We are finishing up the last week of policy committees to pass bills before the cutoff date. That means any policy bills that are not necessary to implement the budget (NTIB bills) are basically dead for the rest of session. I hope some of you have been able to take advantage of the “Week Ahead” notices I sent the last couple weeks. I am doing my best to keep you informed and engaged. If you are not getting all the information you need, always feel free to call or e-mail and ask.
Here is an update on legislation we have been working on this session:
- House Bill 1127 – would make us more “firewise” by developing pre-fire mitigation plans. It does so by encouraging local solutions — involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, firefighters and others. A fund called the Wildfire Prevention Account would also be created by transferring 5 percent of all money received by the state from taxes on fire insurance premiums. The House Public Safety Committee passed the bill and it is currently being considered by the House Appropriations Committee.
- House Bill 1492 – would provide school districts an opportunity to be more flexible in their schedule. This is similar to a bill I introduced last year and the schools who have done this under the pilot project feel it is working well. Districts would voluntarily apply for waivers from the State Board of Education that gives them the ability to adjust their school schedule for efficiency purposes. This bill has had a public hearing in the House Education Committee and is scheduled for a possible vote later this week.
- House Bill 1677 – would benefit multiple adult family care homeowners who wish to sell their homes. Current law makes it difficult on adult family care homeowners looking to retire or get out of the business and those who want to operate more than two homes at time. This legislation should help streamline that process. The Health Care and Wellness Committee passed the bill and it is now in the House Rules Committee awaiting a possible vote before the full House of Representatives.
- House Bill 1715 – would authorize the special investigations services unit of the Department of Corrections to collect, evaluate, collate and analyze data and specific investigative information concerning security threat groups, drugs and violence within department facilities, and protects that information in the interest of public safety. This bill was passed by the House Government Operations and Elections Committee on Thursday, Feb. 21.
School safety and firearms legislation
We have heard from a number of you about the gun legislation before us. There are those who want to see stricter gun control laws. We are also seeing bills that would fight to protect the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. As expected, it can be an emotionally charged issue. The common ground is we all want to make sure our children are safe when they go to school and make sure our families are safe in our homes, their workplaces and in their communities. And, as a strong Second Amendment right supporter, it is important that no matter what legislation we consider, we must always protect our constitutional rights.
One bill I am monitoring closely because I have some strong concerns and am opposed to is:
- House Bill 1588 – would broaden the requirement for background checks to apply to all firearms sales in the state.
This month, I was honored to receive a “Patriot Award” from the Tri-Cities TEA Party. They have established the Patriot Awards as a means of recognizing local citizens who have made outstanding contributions to the cause of freedom in our community. I was presented the award at their Patriot Award Dinner earlier this month. Thank you Tri-City TEA Party!
National Guard Day
February 8, was National Guard Day in the Legislature. A day when we get to honor the men and women who have served in the Army and Air National Guard. I was asked to give a speech on the House floor that day. Fellow members of my caucus who have served in the military were added to a video of my speech. It is very touching and I am honored to share it with you. Click here to watch it.
Sen. Sharon Brown, Rep. Larry Haler and I will be holding town hall meetings around the 8th Legislative District on Saturday, March 16. I hope you will be able to attend one of the meetings. Below is a list of the times and locations:
8 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Richland City Hall/Council Chamber
505 Swift Blvd.
Richland, WA 99352
10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
West Richland Library
3803 W. Van Giesen
West Richland, WA 99353
1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Kennewick City Hall Council Chambers
210 W. 6th Ave
Kennewick, WA 99336
Have a great day, Washington!