Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We're hearing the House Democrats may release their operating budget proposal next week. However, we're also hearing their budget proposal may NOT contain the funds to pay for it. In other words, it would be a list of spending “wants” without showing where they would get the money – which taxes would be raised. I don't believe this is a responsible or prudent way to lead on budget matters.
There is still plenty of time for the Legislature to come to a budget agreement and adjourn on time with no special session. That continues to be my expectation and my goal.
Just a reminder, if you haven't yet participated in my online survey, which includes a gas-tax question, click here. I'll leave it open for another week and then report back to you the results in my next e-newsletter.
Several of you have asked me for an update on my daylight savings bill. At this time, it is considered dead for the session, as is another bill dealing with daylight savings time sponsored by a colleague, Rep. Elizabeth Scott. The funny thing is how much interest this issue has generated. Between the two of us, we've had over 20 media calls from across the state, nation and into Canada! It seems we started a conversation that has taken off. Here's a link to a fun little video that someone sent me, titled, “Daylight savings time: How is this still a thing?” You might enjoy it.
Another one of my bills passed the House unanimously. House Bill 1627 would help protect private property owners from people who trespass onto their property in search of antler sheds. Currently, the financial incentive for selling elk antlers overseas is so great, perpetrators don't mind paying a fee for trespassing. But if we link this practice to similar hunting statutes, where the punishment can include relinquishment of the game animal, including its parts, it will be more of a deterrent and help protect property owners.
To read a short article from The Spokesman-Review on this bill, click here.
I cosponsored House Bill 1639 which passed the House 73-25 and is now in the Senate for further consideration. This bill, commonly called the “drone bill,” is similar to legislation that passed the Legislature last year but was vetoed by Gov. Inslee. It sets parameters on when, where and how state government can use technology-enhanced surveillance devices, or drones. It also deals with the information collected by drones – who can view images and how long the data can be stored. The bill specifically allows for drones in emergency situations and for search and rescue efforts. But in other circumstances, it requires the state to list when, where and why the agency feels like they need to use a drone.
Another privacy bill, House Bill 1440, requires law enforcement to obtain a search warrant before using cell site simulators, sometimes called “stingrays.” These devices mimic a cell tower and connect with the target's phone collecting meta data – who the person called, texted or e-mailed, when they did it and for how long. The problem is these devices also gather information from OTHER peoples' phones. I believe technology like this can be a good tool for law enforcement, but they should be required to get a search warrant first.
I talked about these two bills at length with Rick Rydell on KXLY 920 AM. To listen to that interview, click here.
Thanks for reading my e-newsletter. I'll continue to keep you updated on these issues and more as we head into the last month or so of session. If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact my office.