Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We're a third of the way through the 60-day legislative session and still nothing has been done to fill our state's $1.5 billion budget shortfall. There just hasn't been a lot of movement on anything that will balance the budget and enable job creation.
Instead, we're spending time on bills that would abolish the state's seldom-used death penalty, or one that would legalize the non-medicinal use of marijuana, or one that would make spitting or roller skating on a state ferry a misdemeanor. We've even had legislation to create a Washington State Bank. You heard me. Someone somewhere thinks that your tax dollars should be directly involved in the banking industry, including the very dangerous realm of home mortgages – with no idea where the initial money will come from to make the bank in the first place!
We've also heard several bills that would actually make fraud in our election process more prevalent. One of the bills would allow people to register to vote up to 5:00 p.m. on election day. This idea of “same day registering and voting” has led to serious cases of voter fraud in the handful of states that have implemented it. On election day, County Auditors should be focused on recording and processing ballots – not trying to register new voters. And, there is a bill to start registering voters at age 16 – though they wouldn't vote until age 18.
The point is, however you feel on these issues or others, they are not the reason we're in Olympia right now. The reason we're here – the only reason, in my opinion – is to come up with a budget solution that protects education, public safety and the developmentally disabled community.
And, to pass legislation that will help create more private-sector jobs in this state. Anything that falls outside the spectrum of those two priorities should wait until next year when the full, 105-day session is in full swing.
Fund Education First
On Tuesday, Jan. 31 at 8:00 a.m., the House Education Appropriations and Oversight Committee will hold a public hearing on our House Republican proposal to “fund education first.” House Bill 2533 would change the state operating budget process by prioritizing and fully funding K-12 education. This is consistent with the recent state Supreme Court decision – and our firm belief – that education should receive the first dollar from the state budget, not the last. If you want to watch that committee hearing live, click here to go to the TVW live feed and press play on the media player.
Appearance on TVW
I had the opportunity to be involved in a TVW segment this week on Health Care. As the ranking member on the Health Care and Wellness Committee, I am the lead on health care issues for the House Republican Caucus. As I've said time and time again, when I'm out in the community I don't hear people talking about access or quality of health care. We seem to do pretty good at both. But they do talk about the costs of health care. This is something we're working on – trying to identify and reign-in the cost-drivers to health care so that more people can afford it.
If you'd like to see the video clip, click on the picture on the left and scroll the media player to the 26:38 mark to see the health care segment of TVW's “The Impact.”
I've also penned an OP-ED on the need to retain funding for our Critical Access Hospitals with Rep. Shelly Short from Addy and Rep. Jay Rodne from North Bend. Critical Access Hospitals are especially crucial to our rural areas. If you'd like to read that OP-ED, click here.
Join me for our 9th District “teleforum”
Please join me on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 6:35 p.m. for our 9th District telephone town hall meeting. This is a chance for residents around the districts to converse with me and listen to other constituents discuss issues important to you.
To participate, residents may call the toll-free number at 1-877-229-8493 and enter the code 15440 when prompted. During the telephone town hall we'll listen to residents, answer questions and discuss a variety of topics related to the 2012 session. Once on the line, participants may select star 3 on their telephone keypads to ask a question or they can simply listen in and take part in instant polls. There will also be an opportunity at the end of the call to leave me a message if you'd like.
I hope you can join us!
As always, feel free to contact me on issues that concern you. And, while I know most of you can't make it over the mountains during session – but if you are planning a trip over to Olympia during session, please contact my office and we'll help make sure you're taken care of. It is always a plea
sure to hear from you and it is an extreme honor to serve you in Olympia.