Dear Friends and Neighbors,
With only a few weeks left in the 60-day session, I wanted to give you an update on some of the proposals that have died and some that are still moving through the legislative process.
My bill to help child care providers meet the state's new education goals for child care workers did not make it out of the House. However, a similar bill sponsored by a colleague is still alive and moving through the process. While I don't believe this bill goes far enough, I am grateful that others in the Legislature are listening to our day care providers and finally beginning to understand their plight. I don't care who gets the credit, as long as we see some relief.
My bill to allow teachers to “job share” as a way to assist more young mothers and young families also did not pass the House. I will continue to work on this issue throughout the interim and into next session.
While my bill to officially prioritize road preservation and maintenance in state transportation funding didn't make it out of the House, I'm hoping to amend it into the 2020 supplemental transportation budget later this session. We have a backlog of maintenance projects that need attention. These should be prioritized within existing transportation revenues.
A bill to ban high-capacity magazines died in the House this week. We had over 70 amendments to this bill prepared and ready to go. But the other side did not want to have this fight. The idea that the state should be able to limit the rounds you have available to protect yourselves and your loved ones is ludicrous. However, a new bill (HB 2947) was introduced yesterday with a very tight title (making it more difficult to add amendments to) and a buy-back program component, making it “necessary to implement the budget” (NTIB) and therefore not subject to strict cutoff rules in the Legislature. This gamesmanship shows the lengths to which the majority party will go to attack our right to keep and bear arms. While the first bill was defeated, the second bill is still alive and well and needs our attention.
Mandatory sex education
In the House Education Committee this morning, over 650 people signed in to oppose Senate Bill 5395 which would require comprehensive sex education in all grades, K-12. The committee hearing room was packed (see above) and they had to utilize several overflow areas. There was moving, emotional and common-sense testimony by parents, school district employees and students against this measure. I don't agree with the idea that the state should mandate what is “age appropriate” to kindergartners and first graders on this issue. Parents, the schools and the local community should determine this.
While the other side likes to talk about parents being able to opt out their kids, why should they have to? Why not opt in? Opting out students just ostracizes them at an already difficult time of relational and personal development. The other side also says there are over 20 “accepted curricula” to choose from, saying that local schools will still have “choice.” But those curricula all must meet certain standards set by the state. Again, a mandate from the state on a topic as sensitive as this is just plain wrong and sidesteps the proper role of parents.
If Seattle wants to teach its kindergartners about mutual masturbation, gender fluidity and gender bias, let them. But I think Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake and the Mead communities, along with strong parental input, should decide these issues here locally. Besides, I have not received requests from parents, teachers, students, and school personnel in support of this measure. We have sufficient requirements for health and sex education in our schools right now.
Low-carbon fuel standard
The majority party in the House passed a low-carbon fuel standard this session. The idea is to mandate the use of fuels that release less carbon into the atmosphere. The problem is this will raise the price of gas over 50 cents per gallon and diesel by over 60 cents. The biofuels needed for this mandate also makes life for our farmers and truckers more difficult as the machinery breaks down more often and does not last as long. All of these costs will be passed down to consumers, making it more expensive to live in our state. And, as a reminder, Washington state emits less than one-third of one percent of global green house gas emissions. The bottom line is this bill will have no measurable impact on greenhouse gas emissions but will take more money out of your pocket. I'm hoping this bill dies in the Senate.
Speaking of money, the state has plenty of it! The new revenue forecast came out this week, showing about $606 million more for the current biennium (2019-21) and another $536 million for the next (2021-23). This continues a trend of record tax collections, spurred on by the Trump economy and the hot real estate market in our state. We're now looking at a budget surplus of over $2 billion!
I think we should give some back. I am cosponsoring legislation that will give about one billion dollars back to taxpayers, including the $30 car tabs that voters have asked for time and again. I also believe we should be looking at significant property tax relief and will be working to that end in the coming weeks.
My legislative page
This week, I was proud to sponsor Gabrielle (Gabby) Wold as a House Page. She attends Cheney High School and was the recent winner of The Spokesman-Review's high school student outdoor writing contest, which you can read here. She enjoys writing, reading, hunting and her two chocolate labs and three pygmy goats. She is the daughter of Brendon and Elisa Wold from Cheney. Her family has deep roots in Spokane Valley, with several small businesses contained within her family tree, including ABC Ville Learning Center. She did a great job this week in her page duties and it was a joy to have her around. Thank you, Gabby!
If you know a student between the ages of 14 and 16 who would like to be a House Page, click here to learn more. Or contact my office. It may be too late to be a page this year, but we're always looking for next year's participants.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you in Olympia.