Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We've spent the last few days – and a couple late nights – working on the House floor. We meet with our House Republican colleagues (called “caucusing”) while the House Democrats do the same. We discuss the legislation on the floor calendar, talk about potential amendments and strategies to make bills better, and then go out and debate and vote on the House floor. It's humbling to know that we're continuing in the same law-making processes that legislators in our state have followed for generations.
Ban the Box
One of the bills that recently passed would make it illegal for an employer to ask a potential employee if he or she has ever been convicted of a felony. This “Ban the Box” legislation, HB 1298, is misguided. I believe in second chances for people who have done wrong, but not allowing employers this basic determination on the front end of the job application process is unfair. It's going to force employers to go through extra hoops, like calling past employers, asking the job candidate directly or paying for a background check – just to determine whether or not they may be hiring a convicted criminal!
While there are exemptions for some jobs, like unsupervised work with children, there are ample scenarios where the employer should know if a potential employee has been convicted of a felony. I fear this legislation will do more harm than good. I voted no on this bill. The risk to the public and the employer via increased liability outweigh any perceived benefit. It's unfortunate, but it seems the attack on employers continues with mandatory paid leave, increasing minimum wage, high workers' compensation costs and legislation like Ban the Box.
Gov. Inslee's Energy Tax
Despite increased opposition from citizens, the Democrat-controlled Senate Energy, Environment and Technology Committee passed a version of Gov. Inslee's energy tax. The proposal, SB 6203, would create a new carbon pollution tax that will increase the costs of gas, natural gas and energy bills for consumers, without having any measurable benefits for our state's environment.
At this time, the bill has not passed the full Senate. I'll keep you updated on this tax as details unfold.
As a reminder, you can listen to my weekly, three-minute podcast called Capitol Report here at my Sound Cloud page. You can also sign up for the Capitol Buzz, a daily email containing links to media stories from around the state covering politics, government and important issues.
Also, don't forget to join us for our 9th District telephone town hall on Thursday, Feb. 22 from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Just call (509) 724-2970 at any time during the hour-long program. You can listen in and ask questions as we discuss the 2018 session.
Thank you for reading my email update and for staying involved. It is an honor to serve you in Olympia.