Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This week was the “House of origin” cutoff in the state Legislature. Any House bill – other than those “necessary to implement the budget” – that didn't make it off the floor of the House by Wednesday night is considered “dead” for the session. Here is an updated list of some of the more popular bills that are either dead or still moving through the process.
House Bill 1588, the bill that would mandate background checks on private firearms transactions, did not make it out of the House. There was a lot of media surrounding the efforts of this bill. Our new governor even gave out the private cell phone number of one of my House colleagues in order to lobby in support of the bill. After two days of arm twisting and heavy-handed politics, the majority party could not get enough votes to bring the bill up for a vote. I want you to know that I would have voted a resounding NO on this particular bill. If you want to read some of the media stories on the recent developments surrounding the bill, click on the stories below.
I've received more contact from constituents on this bill than just about any other bill this session. The vast majority of you opposed the bill. But what you have to know is that supporters are already talking about turning this into an initiative this year. Stay engaged on this issue – you may have the final say at some point during the fall election season.
Several of my bills are still alive and moving through the legislative process:
House Bill 1006 – This is a technical bill that requires the state treasurer to credit investment earnings from the Washington Horse Racing Commission's operating account to that account rather than the Class C Purse Fund. The language makes consistent with the State Treasurer the uses of the Operating Account. This bill passed the House unanimously and is in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.House Bill 1442 – This bill authorizes the Washington Horse Racing Commission to approve a maximum of two satellite locations where paramutuel wagering may occur in counties with populations exceeding 1 million. Currently, there can only be one satellite location per county. This bill also passed unanimously and is in the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor.
House Bill 1469 – This bill addresses industrial insurance for horse racing employment. Specifically, it would remove the requirement that workers' compensation premiums for employees in the horse racing industry be computed on a per-license basis and assessed at the time the license is issued or renewed. It also allows the Department of Labor and Industries and the Washington Horse Racing Commission to develop rules regarding the calculation and assessment of workers' compensation premiums for horse racing employees. Again, this bill passed the House unanimously and is now in the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor.
House Bill 1609 – This bill renames the Board of Pharmacy to the “Pharmacy Quality Assurance Commission” and adds new members, including a member of the public and a member who must be a licensed pharmacy technician. This is an effort to help prevent pharmacy related tragedies here in our state. This bill is now in the Senate Committee on Health Care.
Substitute House Bill 1846 – Under Obamacare, states must establish a health benefits exchange through which consumers may compare and purchase individual and small group coverage. This bill will level the playing field and change state law to allow stand-alone dental coverage to be offered outside the exchange.
What's up with the budget?
Many of you have asked for an update on the budget situation. Governor Jay Inslee has decided NOT to propose a budget this year. It looks like he's waiting for the Legislature to act. This year, the Senate is scheduled to put out the budget first (the House and Senate alternate each year). We have a new revenue forecast coming up on Wednesday, March 20. I anticipate once the Senate sees the most recent revenue forecast, they'll be able to finalize their budget proposal. We should see it the last week of March or the first week of April, is my guess.
In the meantime, House Republicans introduced the first complete budget bill of the session this week with our “Fund Education First” plan. It is a complete, stand-alone budget document that meets our state Constitutional obligation of funding education, and it does this WITHOUT RAISING YOUR TAXES. If you want more detailed information on this proposal, click here.
Since 1891, young people from across the state have come to Olympia to serve as pages for the Washington State House of Representatives. Paging presents students with a unique educational opportunity to participate in the legislative process. Page duties are varied. They range from ceremonial tasks such as presenting the flags to operational chores like distributing amendments during legislative sessions. Each job is vital to the efficient operation of the Legislature. As the week-long experience draws to a close and pages return to their schools and communities, it is hoped that pages will share their experiences and observations with others in an effort to contribute to a more universal understanding of the legislative process.
To serve as a legislative page for the House of Representatives, a student must:
- Have permission from a parent or guardian
- Have permission from school
- Be sponsored by a current member of the House of Representatives
- Be at least 14 years of age and not have reached his or her 17th birthday
Thank you for taking the time to read my e-newsletter. I hope to see some of you in the next few weeks at various Lincoln Day festivities.