Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are now more than halfway through the 2016 legislative session. The House has been voting on bills for the past several days, and will continue to do so until house of origin cutoff on Wednesday. By Wednesday at 5 p.m., any bills that have not passed the House will be considered “dead” for the year. I have been working hard to protect taxpayers and limit the size and scope of government, but it's an uphill battle being in the minority. I am thankful for the Senate and conservative champions like Sen. Mike Padden, who are holding the line and voting to turn down a lot of legislation that either expands government or unwisely spends taxpayer dollars.
The latest on my bills and other legislation I'm supporting
House Bill 2519 is a bill I sponsored to allow cities to recover the costs of removing a nuisance that threatens health or safety in the community. When people move out of homes and leave debris behind, a property may sit empty for years. Cities then spend taxpayer funds cleaning up private properties with piles of trash, abandoned furniture, rodents or other nuisances. My bill would ensure cities could recover at least $2,000 of taxpayer dollars spent during this process. This would help our cities and also restore property values in neighborhoods where a nuisance property has been a problem. This bill passed the House today in a 76-21 vote, and now moves to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 2526 is another bill I sponsored. It would change, from 90 days to 30 days, the amount of time a person must maintain a permanent place of residence within Washington state in order to obtain a hunting or fishing license. This bill has been placed on the suspension calendar, which means it may come to the floor for a vote.
I have worked hard with Rep. Steve Bergquist on House Bill 1867, which concerns the frequency of evaluations for certain teachers. This bill would put a greater emphasis on assessing new and struggling teachers, and reduce the time spent on evaluating good teachers who are consistently doing their jobs well. It passed the House 96-0 last week, and is now in the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. I will be testifying on the bill when it receives a public hearing.
Supporting Rep. Taylor's petition regarding the transgender rule
Rep. David Taylor recently drafted a petition requesting a review of administrative rule regarding the Human Rights Commission's transgender bathroom rule. Not only was the process controversial and less than transparent, but it is very likely the rule violates state law. I am happy to support Rep. Taylor's petition because it's important to stand up for what's right at all times.
Holding state government accountable
In the span of two weeks, State Corrections Secretary Dan Pacholke resigned and Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson was fired by the state Senate. Neither of these individuals proved to be up to the task of leading their respective agencies. Pacholke was at the helm when it came to light that more than 3,000 prisoners were released early, and Peterson oversaw many high-profile failures costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. The state Senate has received some backlash for letting Peterson go, but it is important to hold government officials accountable when they are not performing their duties well.
Hearing from and meeting with constituents
I recently met with members of the Washington State School Directors' Association, the Washington Association of School Administrators, and the Washington Association of School Business Officials. We discussed how schools and school districts are operating given the variety of challenges they face. As a former teacher, I understand these issues well and enjoyed hearing their perspectives. I came away impressed by their ingenuity and work ethic.
I shared with them my priority to fund education first in the state's operating budget, which they found encouraging. I look forward to continuing to work with these groups to provide a world-class education system for every student in Washington state.
Seattle Seahawk Jermaine Kearse comes to Olympia
Yesterday, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse came to Olympia and met with a group of Gold Star Kids who had lost their fathers in combat. Kearse is the founder of the 15 to 1 Foundation, which supports and inspires youth in military families to work hard and persevere in order to overcome adversity and find success through positive choices, experiences and opportunity. As much of a treat as it was to meet Jermaine, the true highlight was getting to meet the Gold Star Kids. Their fathers are heroes, and we owe them a debt of gratitude.
Please continue to get in touch with me with any comments, questions or concerns. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is (360) 786-7820.
It is an honor to serve you in the state House of Representatives.