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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We said goodbye this week to former state Sen. Brian Dansel as he took a job with the Trump Administration. A big thank you to the 7th District PCOs and county commissioners for meeting quickly and making the necessary appointments so the 7th District continues to have strong representation in Olympia.

Seeing Rep. Shelly Short move to the Senate is a little bitter sweet. Sad to see her go to the other chamber but excited that we keep our team strong moving forward. Shelly is going to continue doing great things for our region and our state.

And a big, hearty welcome to Jacquelin Maycumber as our new state Representative! Jacquelin has served as Shelly's Legislative Assistant for the past eight years and has long, deep family roots in the 7th District. She knows the issues, the people, the processes, and, most importantly, knows how to fight for our values and our way of life. We are fortunate the PCOs and commissioners had an excellent list of candidates to choose from, and even more fortunate in their final choice.

Take my online survey
Hearing from you on the issues is an important part of my decision-making process in the Legislature. If you have a minute, click here to take my online survey. It's very helpful to have information and stories from you to help make the case for or against legislation being debated on in Olympia. I appreciate your input, and believe me – I use it! More than one Senator or Representative has heard me retell your stories, and to great effect. Keep 'em coming folks.

I've already heard from several of you via email, phone calls and letters.  There are a host of issues on your mind, but the following ones are getting a lot of attention from you, so let's get started!

The Legislature's in session, time to attack guns
If you're reading this update, you know where I stand on the issue of firearms and gun control. There should never, EVER be any doubt. That being said, we have to be vigilant as many Seattle lawmakers seem to be falling all over themselves to see who can “out liberal” who by proposing more and more stringent gun control measures.

Take our state Attorney General (please) Bob Ferguson who's rumored to be a future candidate for governor. He got one of his Seattle friends in the House to introduce House Bill 1134 which would ban so-called “assault weapons,” including semi-automatic firearms and any large-capacity magazine (LCM) that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition. I don't know about you, but I own several innocent looking firearms and they've never “assaulted” anyone. There's a few coyotes, ground chucks and deer that may have found themselves on the disagreeing end of a discussion, but I wouldn't say they were assaulted.

A second measure, House Bill 1387, introduced on behalf of Ferguson, would impose a registration-licensing system and enhanced background check for so-called assault weapons and LCMs. Under the bill, every person who possesses, transports, manufactures, purchases or sells an assault weapon or LCM must have an annual state-issued license, with an updated license required every time there is a change in the possession of the gun or LCM.

I am strongly against these proposals. They have nothing to do with meaningful reforms or public safety or reducing crime. They ignore facts, are political in nature, and represent a slippery slope to eliminating firearms for law-abiding citizens.

If you want to let the Attorney General know how you feel on these bills, call his office and ask that these bills be rescinded. His number is (360) 753-6200 or go here for other ways to contact him.

Preserving the Second Amendment
Fortunately, there are some in Olympia who understand the importance of gun ownership and the ability to defend oneself. Here are some bills that would help to protect our rights. Click on the bill number to get further details:

  • House Bill 1004 – Use of firearms during emergency;
  • House Bill 1181 – Prohibiting a database of pistol sales/transfers;
  • House Bill 1190 – Prohibiting a database of gun ownership;
  • House Bill 1380 – Repealing background checks from Initiative 594;
  • House Bill 1100 – Conceal carry renewal;
  • House Bill 1381 – Increasing reciprocity for concealed pistol licenses (CPL);
  • House Bill 1725 – Exempting background checks on the sale or transfer of a firearm when the seller/transferor and the purchaser/transferee both possess a valid concealed pistol license.

The Hirst decision and water issues
Many of you have contacted my office to discuss this issue and the uncertainty with building permits and usable water as a result of the state Supreme Court's Hirst decision. Please know that legislators are working to find a solution that can get the 50 votes needed in the House, the 25 votes needed in the Senate, and the one vote needed in the governor's mansion. There are a lot of moving parts and negotiations going on. I'll do my best to keep you informed as the session progresses. Here are just a few Hirst bills: HB 1382, HB 1349, HB 1459, HB 1503, HB 1748.

Education funding
Ending the state's overreliance upon local levies for funding basic education is the final piece to the McCleary puzzle. The Legislature made over $4.6 billion in additional investments in K-12 education the last two budget cycles (full-day kindergarten, teacher salaries, lower class size for K-3). We're in the home stretch, but the final piece – reforming levies and how the system is funded – will be a big lift.

Last week, House Democrats rejected a cornerstone of our plan to adequately fund and reform our education system. We offered an amendment to our House rules that would have required the Legislature to pass an education budget before any other budget could be passed. Our “Fund Education First” amendment was defeated by a party-line vote, which is unfortunate. We had the opportunity to take politics out of our education budgeting. The state constitution says we have to prioritize it, and we should – by doing our education spending first, before any other spending is considered.Smiling little girl holdin

The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus issued their first Education Reform plan this week. You can read more about their plan here.

This is only the beginning of what promises to be a healthy back-and-forth discussion. It may seem vanilla to the public but believe me, behind closed doors it can be a scene worthy of your favorite spaghetti western. Grab some popcorn and hang on!

What do you think, should we reintroduce Grizzly bears to the North Cascades?
The “good idea fairy” has struck again as our National park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are considering adding another apex predator to our corner of the state. Grizzly bears are being considered for reintroduction into the North Cascades. To submit written comments to the two federal agencies, click here. You can also attend one of these regional open houses and give your comments in person (all events are 6-8 p.m.):

  • Cle Elum – Feb. 13 at Putnam Centennial Center
  • Cashmere – Feb. 14 at Riverside Center
  • Winthrop – Feb. 15 at the Red Barn
  • Omak – Feb. 16 at the Annex Facility at Okanogan County Fairgrounds

For more information about the open houses and to register for the webinars, click here

Join us for our 7th District telephone town hall
On Thursday, Feb. 23 from 6-7pm, we will be having our 7th District telephone town hall. To participate, call (509) 724-2970. Once you're in the program you can press STAR on your telephone keypad to ask a question. This is a great way to listen to and have a discussion with your neighbors and elected officials about the issues we're dealing with both in Olympia and back home. I hope you can join us.

It is an honor to serve you in the state House of Representatives. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact my office.


Joel Kretz

State Representative Joel Kretz, 7th Legislative District
335A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(564) 888-2361 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000