Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have officially passed the halfway mark of the 2015 session. Much of our time since my last update has been spent debating and voting on bills on the House floor. We have passed more than 300 bills so far this session, and will now begin hearing and voting on Senate bills. This is all leading up to passing an operating budget for the 2015-17 biennium, which I believe we can, and should, do within the 105-day legislative session!
Here are the details:
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!
This week I was happy to have three bills I sponsored pass the House. Both House Bill 1276 and House Bill 1536 are the result of months of work with several agencies and stakeholders. These bills would clarify and strengthen impaired driving and mental health laws.
House Bill 1276 is an omnibus DUI bill, and includes items such as: clarifying the provisions relating to possessing marijuana while in a vehicle, ignition interlock requirements for offenders, and other conditions of release associated with DUI suspects and offenders. Working in law enforcement, I have seen the dangers of impaired driving first hand. I believe this bill is a step forward in preventing DUI-related deaths and injuries. I am so thankful for everyone's hard work on this important bill!
House Bill 1536, concerning emergency detentions and mental health assessments, passed the House with a 97-1 vote. The bill clarifies the timeline for assessments when individuals are transferred to a medical facility for a mental health hold and may require medical treatment. Currently, individuals detained for being a threat to themselves or others are to be assessed by a mental health professional within three hours. Additionally, a facility can hold an individual for no more than 12 hours.
This bill provides much needed clarification for the timeline for mental health assessments when there are also medical conditions requiring treatment. As it is now, the twelve-hour clock for a mental health hold starts ticking immediately upon an individual's arrival to a medical facility. There should be flexibility to treat medical conditions before the clock starts and this bill would provide that flexibility.
House Bill 2017 would create a special license plate that would read, “Washington Farmers and Ranchers, We Feed the World!” The FFA symbol would be displayed on the left side of the plate with proceeds benefitting FFA education programs. That means we could raise money for education without raising taxes. It passed with overwhelming support in the House! This bill is the result of a conversation I had with a farmer in our district. By creating a special license plate for farmers and ranchers, we can honor the important contributions of the agricultural community and support the next generation of Washington farmers, ranchers and all those who support this industry!
I look forward to these bills passing in the Senate and being signed into law.
Finally, if you are unable to join me at one of the upcoming events, you can contact my office directly. The most important part of my job is to be a voice for YOU. You play a critical role in the legislative process and I am always happy to meet with you on issues important to our communities. My legislative assistant Jennifer Palmer will be happy to assist you with making an appointment or dealing with a state agency.
Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you! May God richly bless you! Have a great Washington Day!