Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We recently celebrated Beef Day in Olympia. Cattlemen from around the state served some of the best beef I've ever tasted! Even though there was snow on the ground, the lines stretched down the sidewalk as legislators, staff, visitors, and anybody walking by was treated to a sandwich, asparagus, chips and a cookie. It was nice treat in the midst of the frantic chaos of session.
I want to thank those of you who were able to participate in our 9th District telephone town hall last week. We had over one thousand participants during the hour-long event. We took questions on gun control, school safety, grandparents rights, equal pay for women, wildlife overpasses, and several on Gov. Jay Inslee's proposed carbon tax.
I'm sometimes asked why we do telephone town halls rather than traditional in-person town halls. With a district as large as the 9th, which is larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island, combined, we would either have to exclude most folks or spend a week traveling around the region.
The telephone town halls allow us to have a community conversation with you from the comfort of your own home. At this time of year, driving our roads can be difficult for some. We get to hear from you – your thoughts and opinion on the issues – and you get to hear why we support or oppose certain ideas or legislation. It was a great exchange and I'm honored you took time out of your evening to chat with us.
Majority party passes capital gains income tax
The majority party in the House passed an unsustainable supplemental budget less than nine months after the governor signed the 2017-19 operating budget into law.
Despite record revenue projections that show the state receiving around $1.3 billion more in tax collections over the next four years, the House passed a supplemental budget that raises taxes, raids the state rainy day fund and borrows money from the future via an apportionment shift.
It raises state spending at a rate much faster than the citizens who have to pay for it. We need to be as concerned about state household income growth as we are about state revenue growth.
The budget passed on a party-line vote. I expect budget writers and leaders in the House and Senate to work out their differences soon so we can adjourn on Thursday, March 8 as scheduled.
House Democrats ignore constituent concerns in support of powerful, friendly union
With 98 members in the state House, I've never seen or even heard of a bill passing 50-0. Yet that's what happened this week when House Republicans refused to vote on legislation that circumvents a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says individual providers cannot be forced to be a union member.
In a brazen move, Senate Bill 6199 attempts to go around the court's ruling by allowing DSHS to contract out for provider wages to a private third-party entity (despite the majority party's and governor's reluctance to consider contracting out in many other instances). It just so happens that in this case, that entity is the powerful, Democrat-supporting SEIU.
Washington currently has more than 30,000 individual home care workers with nearly two-thirds of them caring for family members who are most often elderly parents or children with developmental disabilities. We've heard from literally thousands of home care providers who say they cannot afford to pay union dues and who do not want to join the union. When we tried to read these emails and letters on the House floor while debating this issue, we were constantly gaveled down by the Democrat Speaker. The other side was shutting down debate because we were standing up for the little guy – our constituents – instead of allowing another money grab of taxpayer dollars for unions that support Democrats.
In a poignant protest of such debate stifling, not one House Republican voted on this bill. And for possibly the first time in state History, legislation passed the House 50-0.
In the media…
As the ranking member on the House Health Care and Wellness Committee, I'm often asked by the media to comment on health care issues. A television station on the west side is doing an in-depth story on pharmacists and drug prices. There is legislation I'm supporting that would allow a pharmacist to inform consumers how to save money when purchasing prescription drugs.
For example, if a person were to pay cash, a certain drug might only be two or three dollars, which is less than the ten or fifteen dollar copay for many insurance plans. But currently, under existing law, they are not allowed to do that.
As the vice-caucus chair, I serve as part of the House Republican Caucus Leadership team. I took part in our leadership podcast series this week where I talked about how being a farmer and small business owner has helped me serve my constituents in the House. We also discussed the uniqueness of the 9th District with many small rural towns combined with urban areas in Pasco and Pullman. You can listen to the podcast here.
Thank you for reading my email update. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions and concerns you may have. It is an honor to serve you in Olympia.