Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Last week was a long one filled with all day, and sometimes all night, floor action and voting. The House has passed more than 200 bills so far – and has many more to consider. Too many if you ask me. You can view the bills passed here. Wednesday is the cutoff for House bills to pass the House or they're likely considered dead for the year. Check out the status of some of the bills House Republicans are tracking here.
Here's an update on my proposals:
- House Bill 2093 would provide a different approach to the state's response to wildfires. This includes requiring that locals with experience are used first in fighting fires, providing Good Samaritan protection for locals to go on to state lands to put out a fire early, and improving communication from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) during a fire. The bill is waiting for a vote by the full House – it needs to pass by Wednesday at 5 p.m. or it could be dead for the year. While there's more we could do, I think this legislation is important to make some changes for this year's fire season.
- House Bill 2107, to amend the state's wolf conservation plan, is still moving forward as well. The bill would address the recovery rate of wolves and the uneven distribution of growing packs in our area. Out of 13 wolf packs in our state, 10 are located in Northeast Washington. This bill is also waiting for a vote by the full House to move forward by Wednesday.
- House Bill 1741 would allow people with disabilities to be exempt from buying a Discover Pass to access state lands managed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and DNR. Unfortunately, this bill died in the General Government and Information Technology Committee due to the “lost” revenues to the state.
In other news
Here's an update on some other issues being considered by the Legislature:
- Education – The Legislature this year will be increasing funding to basic education, as is our constitutional duty and as required by a court case called McCleary. Getting lost in all of the press on this issue is the fact that the court not only mandated more funding, but also reforms to education to ensure we aren't dumping more money into a failing system for children. I'll be keeping reforms on people's radar in Olympia, to ensure we focus on the basics in education.
- Health care – The implementation of Obamacare in our state continues to falter (read here, here and here for more). Unfortunately, it's up to Congress in the other Washington, not the state Legislature in Olympia, to change or remove the law itself. Our state can, however, ensure people enrolled in the system are receiving accurate quotes, being charged correctly, and experiencing good customer service. I'm keeping tabs on this situation, and will always fight for transparency and accountability with your tax dollars.
- Minimum wage – The House just passed a bill to increase the minimum wage to $12/hour. Every House Republican, including myself, voted “no.” We're concerned not only that teen employment opportunities will plummet, but also that the cost to employers and consumers as costs are passed on will be too great for our economy. Check out this great speech by Rep. Matt Manweller, providing more reasons why the bill is a bad idea and frustration that none of our reasonable amendments were accepted. The bill now awaits action in the Senate.
Let me know if there are other issues you think I should talk about in future updates. Please contact my office anytime (the contact information is below) with your questions, concerns or suggestions. It's an honor to serve you.