Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The first month of the 2015 legislative session is almost in the books, and I want to give you an update on what's been happening here in Olympia.
I have really enjoyed building relationships with my fellow legislators on both sides of the aisle, and despite what many may think, the atmosphere here is one of collaboration as opposed to contention. I have been pleasantly surprised by that.
In the last week, I've had several people from Spokane either come to testify on bills or sit down with me in my office. I always enjoy these visits, and would encourage you to come meet with me if you're in the area during session!
Update on Legislation
Last week, the House of Representatives voted on its first two bills. The first was House Bill 1258, also known as Joel's Law. Washington is one of seven states that prevents family members from petitioning the court to review a decision to not commit a mentally-ill individual. HB 1258 changes the law to allow family members of mentally-ill individuals to petition the courts for their involuntary treatment, which is an important step in helping them get the help they need. I was proud to join the rest of my colleagues in voting unanimously in favor of this legislation, and am eager to support other reforms to help improve our state's mental health system.
The other bill we voted on was House Bill 1105, the nearly $300 million supplemental operating budget. I was a reluctant 'no' vote because the supplemental budget dips into the state's Budget Stabilization Account to the tune of almost $100 million, and those are funds that I believe should be left untouched except in truly exceptional circumstances.
This week in the House Early Learning & Human Services Committee, we heard testimony on House Bill 1491. This bill mandates any child care business serving low-income populations to participate in the Department of Early Learning's Early Achievers program in order to get a Working Connections Child Care subsidy. However, the bill specifies that only state-qualified providers can get WCCC subsidies, even if private and faith-based groups have a solid record of quality in their own programs.
When the state purposely tries to make it difficult for these groups to be involved in taking care of our children, that's a very big concern. I was disappointed that this legislation passed out of committee on an 8-3 vote, and will be encouraging my colleagues to vote in opposition if it comes to the House floor for a vote.
One bill I'm sponsoring is House Bill 1610, which gets more people involved in the jury service process, and allows people who have already served to more easily opt out of repeatedly serving. The bill is scheduled for a public hearing next Tuesday, Feb. 10 in the House Judiciary Committee.
Finally, I am proud to be a co-sponsor of House Bill 1493, which establishes parental notification requirements for children under 18 years of age that are thinking about having an abortion. Instead of leaving scared and vulnerable young women to be pushed toward abortion by groups like Planned Parenthood, we need to make sure that their parents are allowed to play a role in the decision as well. For every other major medical procedure, parents are required to be notified, and they should also be notified when it comes their child having an abortion. Life is precious, and this bill recognizes that fact.
In my most recent video update, I give an overview of what's been coming up in the House Local Government Committee, legislation that modifies the Growth Management Act, and what I've been most surprised by in the first month of session. Take a look!
If you have any comments, questions or concerns for me, please do not hesitate to reach out via email or call me at (360) 786-7820. I look forward to speaking with you!
Until next time.