Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We reached another major milestone in the session this week: floor cutoff. All bills that originated in the House must be approved by the House or they are considered dead for the year, and vice versa in the Senate. Bills that are considered “Necessary to Implement the Budget” (NTIB) are exempt from this rule. The last 10 days or so have been very busy with floor sessions often lasting into the late night.
Two wolf bills passed the House this week. House Bill 1676 directs the University of Washington's Predator Ecology Lab to conduct a peer-reviewed study in certain Game Management Units to assess the state's wild ungulate population (deer, elk, moose) and how they have changed due to the wolf recovery plan. This is especially crucial as hunters have reported less success in the field since wolves were reintroduced. Many of our small towns depend on the tourism dollars associated with hunting (hotels, fuel, restaurants, game processing) to keep the local economy healthy.
House Bill 2107 would ask the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to take another look at the wolf recovery plan, adopted in 2011, and gives the agency flexibility to decide if they should be measuring successful wolf recovery differently. A recent news release by DFW's Wolf Advisory Group reported that the wolf population grew 30 percent in 2014, marking “clear evidence that wolves are recovering in Washington.”
My bill (House Bill 2181) to raise the speed limit on certain stretches of I-90 to 75 mph passed the House and is now in the Senate Transportation Committee. I have five other bills still alive in the legislative process dealing with various issues – from health plan grace periods to new rules for prescription drugs and EMTs. I'll keep you updated on these as the session progresses.
Vaccination Bills Die in House/Senate
Many of you have contacted my office letting me know that you do NOT want any changes to current vaccination laws. As it stands now, a parent may choose one of three reasons not to vaccinate their children when filling out school paperwork: 1) parental choice 2) medical exemption 3) religious exemption.
Legislation introduced in both the House and Senate would eliminated the first option – parental choice. While I believe every child should be vaccinated and we should take advantage of current medical advances, I do not believe the government should override parents. Parents are going to make the best choices for their children.
The bills dealing with this issue did not pass their House of origin, meaning they are considered dead for the session. However, I anticipate they will be reintroduced again next year.
Thank you for reading my e-newsletter and for staying involved in your state government. If you have any questions or concerns about issues we're dealing with in Olympia, please don't hesitate to contact me.