Dear Friends and Neighbors,
For the first time in 25 years, the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives closed the House for business this week. On Monday, all committees and floor action were cancelled as legislators and staff attempted to dig out from under the snow. Some were able to make it to the Capital, most were not. Olympia is a city that doesn't usually see more than a couple inches of snow at any one time, and doesn't have the equipment in place to deal with much snow at all. The side streets and neighborhoods were impassable in most places. But most of us were back at it on Tuesday, with only a few stuck on the other side of the passes until Wednesday. Here are a few pictures to give you an idea of how things looked.
Next Friday is the policy committee cutoff. We're working hard to get through all the House bills in the policy committees. Once Friday comes and goes, any House bill that hasn't cleared committee – and as long as it is not “necessary to implement the budget” – will be considered dead for the session.
We're also working on a plan to provide mental health reforms and a long-term strategy for changing how the state operates its mental health system. I'll share more about this as the plan takes shape. Suffice to say that a lot of work, negotiations and thought has gone into it thus far. We are close.
I want to make you aware of a few more bad bills moving through the Legislature.
HB 1491 – is called the “restrictive scheduling” bill. It requires employers to provide employees a written work schedule at least two weeks in advance, or pay $100/day fine. And, it limits how often a person can work – no sooner than 12 hours after the end of the previous day's shift.
I'm hearing from people in the restaurant, tourism and hospitality industries that this bill would be devastating. There is no way for some employers to look 14 days into the future and anticipate how many employees they'll need. Also, many employees testified in committee that they want to work double shifts as it gives them scheduling flexibility.
HB 1211 – is legislation requested by Gov. Jay Inslee. It requires the state of Washington to have a 100 percent carbon-free electrical grid in the next 25 years. Again, I would remind folks something that Inslee refuses to acknowledge: our hydropower is the envy of every other state in the nation. We are the only state in the U.S. that refuses to count hydropower as “green” energy.
HB 1601 – would seek to set minimum wages and benefits for independent contractors. This isn't something the industry or workers are asking for. This is more bureaucracy and more government control over our local economies and our citizens' budgets.
HB 2009 – the environmental justice act, or the “I'm a victim of the environment” bill. This proposal creates a task force to study the impacts to – and find the most afflicted – communities that have suffered “environmental injustice.” Huh?
Please know that I'm working hard to fight against these proposals. We have real problems that need real solutions. But what we're seeing, quite frankly, is a lot of legislation that is political in nature and not based in any sense of reality or urgent need at all.
Thanks for reading my update. If I can be of assistance to you, please let me know.