Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Two weeks ago, I joined my seatmates Rep. Matt Shea and Sen Mike Padden for our 4th Legislative District Telephone Town Hall. We had over 930 residents join us in our community conversation as we heard from you on a variety of issues. We took questions on the state foster system, education funding, property taxes, the Hirst solution, mental health issues, governor Inslee's carbon tax, guns, rural high speed internet, the 51st state and more.
I want to thank those of you who were able to participate. Your involvement in these types of events help us represent you better. I appreciate hearing your thoughts and concerns as we continue to work to make our region the best place in the state to live, work and raise a family.
A House bill passes 50-0?
With 98 members serving in the state House of Representatives, I'm not sure we've ever seen a bill pass 50-0. Long-time staffers, lobbyists and legislators were left pondering if it was the first time in state history. Here's the quick story.
In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that individual home health providers cannot be forced to join a union or pay an agency fee. Here in Washington state, we have about 30,000 individual home care workers with about two-thirds of them caring for a family member, oftentimes an elderly parent or child with developmental disabilities.
In an effort to get around the court's ruling, Senate Democrats passed Senate Bill 6199, which would allow DSHS to “contract out” the payment of wages for these services to a third party. That third party is the SEIU, one of the most influential and powerful unions in the state; one that consistently supports Democrat lawmakers.
During floor debate on this bill in the House last week, House Republicans attempted to read emails and letters from constituents – actual home health care workers – begging us NOT to pass this bill. Most of them cannot afford the union dues and they instinctively know this new “arrangement” will not benefit the providers or the patients, all while taking more money out of their pockets; money that will then be used to support policies and ideals that most of them don't support.
As the Democrat majority in the House continued to shut down the debate by turning off our microphones and gaveling us down, frustrations arose. We were not allowed to talk about the union. We were not allowed to point out the obvious skirting of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision. We were not allowed to discuss our constituents' concerns.
In a last attempt to raise awareness on this issue (the press coverage on this was extremely limited), all 48 House Republicans refused to take a vote. I've never seen it happen and I doubt it will ever happen again in my lifetime. But limiting debate while passing legislation that goes around a court decision all to give more money to a union that supports you politically is something we felt needed more attention and debate.
Both of my bills – one to promote the use of expert volunteers in CTE courses and one to bring fairness to child care workers – have stalled in the Senate. While they've both passed their respective policy committees, they are currently stuck in the Senate Rules Committee.
I was recently a guest on KLFE's “Eyes on Washington” program with Marty McClendon and Doug Basler. We discussed a few of my bills, wildfires and the governor's carbon tax. You can listen to that interview here.
I had the distinct privilege of sponsoring two legislative pages last month. Sarah “Ainsley” Schnell attends The Oaks Classical Christian Academy and is the daughter of Russ and Anya Schnell from Spokane. Nicole Buzzell attends East Valley High School and is the daughter of Kevin and Maria Buzzell from Spokane.
Legislative pages have the opportunity to observe the Legislature in action and are responsible for delivering messages and documents to legislators in their offices, committee meetings and the House chamber during floor sessions. Paging presents students with a unique educational opportunity to participate in the legislative process, such as presenting the flags, to operational chores like distributing amendments during legislative sessions.
To serve as a page, a student must:
- Have permission from a parent or guardian;
- Have permission from school;
- Be sponsored by a current member of the House of Representatives;
- Be at least 14 years of age and not have reached his or her 17th birthday.
I had the pleasure and opportunity to serve as a House page in 1975 while in High School. I like to think of that as I interact with pages throughout the week. I tell them that someday they may sitting at my desk debating legislation and helping shape the future for our communities and all Washingtonians.
For more information on the House Page Program, click here.
It is such an honor and privilege to serve you in the state House. Please feel free to contact my office with your questions and concerns about state issues, proposed or potential legislation, or a state agency. We are here to help.