Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Since my last email update we have reached an important milestone in the 2015 legislative session. As of today, we have reached both the policy and fiscal cutoffs for bills to be heard and voted on in committees in the House and Senate, unless it is “necessary to implement the budget.” If a bill did not get voted out of committee, it is now dead for the remainder of session. To learn more about cutoff, click here.
Join my upcoming town hall!
When: Saturday, March 14, 2015
8-9:30 a.m., Richland City Hall Council Chamber, 505 Swift Blvd., Richland
10-11:30 a.m., West Richland Library, conference room, 3803 W. Van Giesen St, West Richland
1-2:30 p.m., Kennewick City Hall Council Chamber, 210 W. 6th Ave., Kennewick
We look forward to updating you on the 2015 legislative session, discussing issues important to you, and answering your questions!
Here are some important bills from this sessionHouse Bill 1276 is a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) omnibus bill that is a result of a DUI task force that met multiple times over the interim. The task force had many members, including those who represented the: Washington State Patrol, Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, Washington Judges Association, Washington Traffic Safety Institute, Defense Attorneys Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and Department of Licensing, to name a few. This bill is the culmination of the majority opinion of all those stakeholders, and others, to improve upon Washington's DUI laws. This bill will clarify: the provisions relating to possessing marijuana while in a vehicle, ignition interlock requirements for offenders and other conditions of release associated with DUI suspects/offenders.
I am happy to report this bill is still alive and I encourage you to watch my testimony on this bill to learn more about why I think it is an important step forward in promoting public safety. You can find my testimony here.
House Bill 1024 would make possession of a controlled substance a simple misdemeanor, including Schedule I drugs which are the most tightly controlled drugs and currently a class C felony offense. I don't believe this bill takes us in the right direction to promote public safety, and I'm happy to report this bill did not pass out of the Public Safety Committee before the policy cutoff.
A more extensive list was produced by the House Republican Caucus on bills that are dead and alive. This is not an exhaustive list and does not fully reflect my own legislative priorities, rather it is a snapshot of bills still moving through the process. You can read more here.
Last week we received another update on the revenue being collected by the state. The Washington Economic and Revenue Forecast Council revised their last report and indicated revenue for the 2015-17 budget will increase by another $129 million. This is in addition to the $3 billion in increased revenue from the last budget.
This is another positive sign and I believe there is no reason to not get a budget passed within the 105-day session.
Update on port agreement
I am, as I'm sure you are, very happy to see our dock workers are back to work at our Washington state ports. Workers are getting back to offloading incoming ships and loading our goods from Washington state onto vessels to be shipped to markets all around the world!
I have heard from many of you on the issue of remote testimony. I believe your voice matters most when we make decisions in Olympia. I have been working with the Chief Clerk's Office in order to find a reasonable way to implement remote testimony. As you may know, there is currently a pilot program in the Senate to allow this.
The Chief Clerk has been monitoring the progress of the Senate model, as well as those in other states such as Alaska and Hawaii. I am committed to working aggressively on this issue during the coming weeks and months in order to fine tune the details. I hope we will be able to implement a remote testimony program in the House in the near future!
Telephone town hall
I want to thank YOU again for taking the time to join my telephone town hall this week! I appreciated ALL of your questions and concerns. I am also happy to share with you the results of our poll questions from the call.
What issue is most important to you?
31% | Jobs and the economy
21% | Other
13% | K-12 education
12% | Health care
10% | Transportation
7% | Affordable college tuition
5% | Environment
Do you support increasing the gas tax by 11.7 cents-per-gallon?
85% | No
15% | Yes
Do you support the governor's cap and trade plan?
90% | No
10% | Yes
Do you support raising the minimum wage?
59% | No
24% | Yes
17% | Undecided
Should the state be taking steps now to attract Small Modular Reactors and other nuclear energy jobs?
94% | Yes
6% | No
Finally, I would like to share a few thoughts with you on an issue that hits close to home for many of us. I have been deeply saddened to see the continued legal persecution of Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers. As a Christian, I am called to live by the word of God. As a lawmaker, I swear an oath to uphold the constitutions of the United States and the state of Washington.
Our state constitution clearly states:
“Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship, shall be guaranteed to every individual, and no one shall be molested or disturbed in person or property on account of religion…” – Article 1 Section 11
And the very first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was designed to protect our freedom of religion.
I believe the recent ruling against Barronelle violates her constitutional rights. This week Barronelle was interviewed on Fox News. I commend her for standing firm in her beliefs, standing up for freedom and I believe she is afforded full protection to do this under our constitution. You can watch the interview by clicking here. I will continue to follow this case and work tirelessly to protect our constitutional rights and the freedoms our founding fathers established for us and tens of thousands have fought to defend!
In closing, please do not hesitate to contact me to share your comments and concerns, or if you have questions about state government. There are many important issues being discussed in Olympia, and your voice is important to me as I weigh the decisions before us every day.
Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you! May God richly bless you! Have a great Washington day!