Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This week was a somber one as we remembered the courageous and dedicated Correctional Officer Jayme Biendl who was killed Jan. 29 in the chapel of the Monroe prison. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her friends and family and to the corrections family as a whole. I know that correctional officers and support staff are a close-knit group. We had several officers visit us this week. The Legislature grieves with the family for the tragic loss of Jayme.
Limited Service Pregnancy Centers
I am very disappointed that House Bill 1366 dealing with limited service pregnancy centers moved out of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee today and is advancing through the legislative process.
In my opinion, this bill limits free speech and singles out a private-sector organization. These organizations do not use taxpayer money and helped 62,000 women last year.
Helping employers and the unemployed
Earlier this week, the Legislature took the first step in helping provide more certainty and stability for employers, which will hopefully help stimulate our local economy and allow small businesses to expand and hire new employees.
As many of you know, employers have seen drastic increases in their workers' compensation rates the last few years as the economy turned sour and the layoffs increased. As we begin to crawl out of the current recession, many employers could be in a position to hire new workers but can't afford to do so with such huge increases in their workers' compensation rates. These rate increases are an additional burden to our employers and are preventing job growth.
The House of Representatives agreed to a bipartisan solution that, in essence, rolls back the workers' compensation rates for all employers to Jan. 1, 2010 levels – there will be no rate increases this year! In fact, every employer in this state will immediately see the savings on their rate cards this year. The agreement also included more retraining dollars and a slight increase in benefits for unemployed workers until the federal money runs out.
The vote on the House floor was unanimous – something rarely seen in a labor/business bill. But I believe this is what the people of Washington want – and need: bipartisan solutions to the economic problems in our state.
In the end, even though this compromise didn't have everything we wanted, I believe it's a “win-win” for struggling employers who need some tax relief, and for workers who would otherwise see their unemployment benefits cancelled.
This week I was invited to have breakfast with the Governor over in the Mansion with the other three leaders on Health Care. We were asked to discuss our thoughts and offer input. Unfortunately, being the only man in the group, it was impossible for me to get in a single word…and I tried! But breakfast was still delicious at the Mansion.
Tele-Town Hall Meeting
Again, please join me Tuesday, Feb. 15 from 7:00pm to 8:00pm for my 9th District tele-town hall meeting. Join your friends and neighbors in a discussion about your concerns. Listen in or talk live from the comfort of your home. Stay connected to YOUR government!
Call toll-free: 1-877-229-8493 and enter pin #: 15440
I look forward to your participation.