Dear Friends and Neighbors,
For the first time since 2009, the Legislature adjourned on-time. We concluded the 2014 session a few minutes before midnight on March 13. It is great to be back in the 8th Legislative District. For the first time since 2009, the Legislature adjourned on-time. We concluded the 2014 session a few minutes before midnight on March 13. It is great to be back in the 8th Legislative District.
The Legislature did agree on a supplemental state operating budget. While I think there were some positive pieces to the budget, I voted “no.” First, after a rushed, whirlwind special session in November to help keep Boeing jobs in the Puget Sound, I thought we would be doing more to help the rest of our state improve job creation and strengthen the economy.
There were tax incentive bills for a variety of issues that would have helped accomplish this, but the proposals were not moved by the Democratic majority in the House and not included in the final budget. Other concerns I had with the budget include:
- reliance on various health care savings assumptions that may be overly optimistic, resulting in additional expenditures in the future.
- it continues investments required by Obamacare.
- it assumes a zero growth rate in managed care rates, an assumption that may be unattainable per actuarial review.
- it relies too much on federal dollars at a time when federal spending is too high and our national debt too large.
The ending fund balance is stronger than the last budget, but I am still concerned we will have some heavy lifting in the next budget cycle.
How much government is too much?
I spoke at an event about a month ago where I posed the question to many people in the crowd “How many of you think we need just a little more government intervention to fix the problems we currently have in our state and nation?” Only one person raised his hand, (a WA State Senate Democrat). I firmly believe people are tired of the government interfering in and with their lives. Government continues to cross the boundaries of parent and child relationships in places where government does not belong. A great example of this is the passage of Senate Bill 6065, which will ban teenagers, under the age of 18, from using tanning beds in Washington; unless they have a written prescription for UV radiation treatment from a doctor. Tanning salons would be fined $250 for violations. This should be a decision between a parent and their child, not an issue for the government to decide.
I will continue to monitor the actions of our governments, state and federal, closely. It is imperative that government stop telling us how to live our lives and how to raise our children, (unless real negligence or abuse is involved).
Of course there are instances our government is helpful and does some positive things for the citizens of our great state. I was excited about the number of veterans bills passed this session.
Senate Bill 5318 waives the one-year waiting period for veterans, military members and their families to receive in-state tuition. Currently, veterans and active duty military members only qualify for in-state tuition at Washington colleges and universities after they have first established residency, then must wait a year.
House Bill 2363 would require the state Department of Social and Health Services to provide services to developmentally disabled children, of military service members, in the order he or she was on the waiting list in another state; rather than having to go to the bottom of the list for services after relocating to Washington.
Senate Bill 5775 would allow the option for veterans to have a veteran designation on their driver's licenses and identicards issued by the state Department of Licensing. This veteran designation will benefit them in a number of different ways.
Committees and responsibilities
While I serve on a number of committees, workgroups, caucuses – I have listed below – I am certainly not limited to those areas to assist you. While the legislative session is over, please remember I'm your state representative year-round. I'm here to answer your questions, listen to your ideas and help you navigate problems with state government on any issue. Please always feel free to contact my office to schedule a time to meet with me or if you would like me to attend a meeting or speak at an event. My office number is (360) 786-7882.
- Public Safety (Ranking Republican)
- Joint Committee on Veterans' and Military Affairs
- Sentencing Guidelines Commission
- Economic & Community Resilience Caucus
- Rail Caucus
- Aviation Caucus
Election year restrictions
Due to state election-year restrictions, this will be the last e-mail update I am sending out until after the general election in November. I appreciate you taking the time to read my updates.
Have a great Washington Day!