Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are in the third week of the 2017 legislative session, which is scheduled to run 105 consecutive days before adjourning in late April. While there is a lot of work for us to do, it is my sincere hope we can put our nose to the grindstone and finish on time.
This session, I'm serving on two committees I served on last year, Education and Early Learning & Human Services. While the majority caucus controls which bills live and die in these committees, I am not shy about lending my voice to discussions and asking questions about the appropriate role of government in the lives of our young people.
A couple of bills to keep your eye on
Two bills I've introduced this session are House Bill 1017 and House Bill 1319.
House Bill 1017, which has 27 cosponsors and broad bipartisan support, would allow for the building of schools and school facilities in all land-use zones, including rural lands. Due to Growth Management Act restrictions, school districts haven't been able to build new schools outside of designated urban growth areas. My bill would change that by returning control to school districts to allow them to work with local authorities to permit the building of new schools and school facilities where students actually live. New schools would mean smaller class sizes, which would better serve our students and teachers. House Bill 1017 was referred to the House Environment Committee and received a public hearing on Jan. 12.
House Bill 1319 also has broad bipartisan support, with 26 of my fellow legislators signing on as cosponsors. This bill would implement a teacher and principal evaluation system that would be less burdensome than the current system, which requires teachers and principals to receive a performance evaluation at least every four years. Under my bill, established teachers and principals that have had positive evaluations in the past and achieved a high performance rating would not be required to be evaluated every four years, but every six or eight years instead. This would allow these teachers to focus more on their classrooms and principals to focus more on their schools. House Bill 1319 has been referred to the House Education Committee.
2017 March for Life Rally
As I've done every year since I become a state lawmaker, I attended this year's March for Life rally and spoke to the thousands of people who came to the Capitol to participate. It is always a joy to speak with and pray with those who dedicate their time to take a stand for the unborn in the face of tremendous opposition.
Psalm 127:3 says, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Children truly are a gift, and while I'm encouraged the abortion rate in the United States has fallen to its lowest level since the Roe v Wade decision in 1973, hundreds of thousands of babies are still being aborted every year. We must continue to advocate for them by speaking the truth in love — that these are human lives that have value and are worthy of the same protections you and I have. While there are millions and millions of people in this country who do not share this view, I believe and trust in a God who is always working on the hearts of individuals — men and women, young and old, black and white, Republican and Democrat.
I pray those who do not hold pro-life views will soften their hearts and come to realize how precious the lives of the unborn are. That is my prayer today and every day, and my commitment to you is that I will continue to do whatever I can in this position God has put me in to be a voice for the voiceless.
As always, I welcome your comments, questions and concerns. Please feel free to get in touch with me via email or by phone. My contact information is below.
It is an honor to serve you in the state House of Representatives.