Dear Friends and Neighbors,
If you haven’t marked your calendar and registered for our 9th District virtual town hall meeting, please be sure to do it now. Rep. Mary Dye and I will be holding a “Zoom” online town hall meeting on Thursday, Feb. 15, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. We will provide an update of the 2024 legislative session and take your questions. Your input is important to us as we vote on legislation that could affect the 9th District.
Preregistration is required by going to http://tinyurl.com/09-LD-Schmick-Dye. After registering, a confirmation email will be sent about joining the webinar. I look forward to visiting with you at this online event.
This week in the Legislature
Most of our time this week has been spent in caucus and on the House floor. In the caucus room, my Republican colleagues and I preview and discuss the bills that are expected to come to the floor for a vote. We ask questions from staff and learn about the pros and cons of the bills. And then we go to the floor to vote on legislation, always keeping in mind what is best for the citizens in our district and across the state.
Tuesday at 5 p.m. is “house of origin” cutoff. Bills must be passed from the chamber where the originated by that deadline, or they may be considered “dead” for the session. Only bills necessary to implement the budget are exempt from the deadlines.
Due to the impending cutoff, we expect to be working long hours this evening, through the weekend, and likely Monday night, as we debate and vote on legislation on the House floor.
Since Jan. 8, the first day of the 60-day session, we have passed more than 130 bills from the House and sent them to the Senate for additional consideration. No bills have passed both chambers yet, nor have any gone to the governor. That will soon change, of course.
It was my honor to meet this week with our local law enforcement officers from the southern part of the 9th District. They included (from left to right): Connell Police Chief Chris Lee, Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond, and West Richland Police Chief Thomas Grego. Public safety and the drug crisis are major issues we are discussing during this legislative session. I greatly appreciate their service to keep our communities safe.
Good legislation advances
Most of the legislation that passes out of the House chamber is on a unanimous or near unanimous bipartisan vote. We have already passed several good bills with bipartisan support, including, but not limited to:
- House Bill 1044 – Would create a new grant program to help school districts in economically disadvantaged areas repair and build schools. Passed the House unanimously.
- House Bill 1800 – Would expand options for judges in sentencing of graffiti taggers, including community service, such as cleaning up their own graffiti. Passed the House unanimously.
- House Bill 1961 – Would strengthen penalties against the most egregious acts of animal cruelty. Passed the House, 95-1.
- House Bill 2048 – Would ensure felony domestic violent offenders are supervised by the Department of Corrections upon release from prison so they cannot stalk, harass and harm their victims. Passed the House unanimously.
Driver’s ed bill increases awareness to a new online program
The best part of my job as your state representative is helping people. That was the idea behind a bill I introduced to expand access to driver’s education training.
House Bill 2370 would have allowed small school districts (with less than 1,000 enrolled students) to permit a licensed driver training school to use school property to provide driver education courses to its students and those from adjacent school districts. This is important, because there are some parents in our rural districts that must drive many miles to get to a driver’s ed school for their child — and for several weeks at a time. Unfortunately, the bill did not get a hearing.
However, there is good news on the horizon. AAA Washington is working with the state Department of Licensing to provide the book portion of driver’s education online. This will save many miles of travel at an affordable cost. AAA has been offering the program in Idaho. Soon, it will be available in Washington state. Learn more about this from my Capitol Report radio program.
Stay in touch, stay engaged!
Whether you’re in Olympia or at home, there are several ways to engage in the legislative process. Feel free to call, email, or send a letter anytime you have questions or concerns. My contact information is below. There are also remote legislative participation options available for your convenience.
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve and represent you!