Dear Friends and Neighbors,
There has been a lot of action on the House floor over the past couple of weeks, and we have now sent dozens of bills to the Senate for consideration. It is always a humbling process to be voting on legislation that impacts the citizens of this great state, and I take that responsibility very seriously. I will only be voting for bills that serve to enforce the principle of limited, but effective, government.
I want to hear from you! The survey question this week is:
Last Thursday, state Senate leaders unveiled a $15 billion transportation revenue package that includes an incremental gas tax increase of 11.7 cents over the next three years. Would you support this gas tax increase if it helped fund the completion of Spokane's North-South freeway, which has been in the works since the early 90s?
You can answer here.
Session cutoff deadlines
Feb. 20 is the first deadline of the session. By that date, bills must pass out of their respective policy committees or they may be considered “dead” for the session. There are a few exceptions to this, but generally not very many.
Feb. 27 presents the second deadline of the session, which is the House fiscal committee cutoff. All bills referred to a fiscal committee that are not passed out are also considered “dead.” For more on cutoff, give this blog post a read.
An update on House Bill 1610
I recently testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee about House Bill 1610, my bill to get more people involved in jury service. The legislation shortens the term of jury service, and it also excuses a juror who is summoned for jury service after having already served within the previous 12 months. HB 1610 is scheduled for an executive session today, and I'm hopeful the committee will pass it on to the entire House to be voted on.
Legislation heard in committee
I mentioned the session cutoff deadlines above, and that has resulted in hearing many more bills in committee. A few key pieces of legislation I've heard in my committees and am supporting are House Bill 1505, House Bill 1813 and House Bill 1999.
HB 1505 would expand the use of restorative justice programs for juveniles to involve all cases except sex offenses and serious violent offenses. Restorative justice is an approach to criminal justice that involves the victim, the offender and the community to address an offender's actions. I voted in support of the bill in committee because these programs are an important tool for getting juveniles back on the right track in life.
HB 1813 creates a computer science and education grant program, and also requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) to adopt computer science learning standards. This is a good bill that will encourage more students to pursue computer science degrees.
HB 1999 coordinates services and programs for foster youth in order to improve educational outcomes. This means moving certain programs out of the jurisdiction of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and into the jurisdiction of education-focused state offices. I believe doing so will result in better programs for foster youth that eliminate barriers to educational access and success.
Telephone town hall next Tuesday
I am excited to be hosting a telephone town hall with Sen. Mike Padden and Rep. Matt Shea next Tuesday, Feb. 24 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The telephone town hall will be interactive, and listeners may ask questions and participate in instant polls in addition to listening to the conversation about issues that affect the 4th District and the state. If you wish to participate next Tuesday, you may call (509) 703-4657. I look forward to speaking with you!
I recorded my most recent video update from the third floor of the Legislative Building, where I stood next to the bust of George Washington. In the video, I talk about the significance of the bust at the Capitol, as well as my bill to include more people in jury service and why I'm cosponsoring a parental notification bill on abortion. Take a look!
Keeping in touch
I have really enjoyed the conversations I've had with constituents throughout session thus far. I want to hear your ideas about what we can be doing better in the 4th District and around the state, so please don't hesitate to reach out to me any time. And don't forget to join me for a telephone town hall on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m.!