Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2015 regular session has concluded and the Legislature is now in a “rolling” special session. This is when most lawmakers are sent back home and only a handful of budget negotiators stay in Olympia to work on the details of a budget deal. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I'll be required to attend periodic committee hearings as the various budget pieces move through the process.
I am frustrated that legislators failed to pass a budget in the 105-day regular session, but it's important to remember this simple fact: we could all be home right now and no special session would be needed IF Republicans in the House and Senate agreed to raise $1.5 billion in new and increased taxes. Or if Democrats in the House would agree to spend a billion dollars less.
That's what the special session comes down to – taxes and the level of spending. We all agree that education needs to be prioritized and significant investments made. We agree that mental health is an important issue and urgent reforms are needed now. But there are distinct differences on how we think we should pay for these and other state government services.
I hope that budget writers take a good hard look at the $3 billion in extra revenues coming in from taxpayers this budget cycle. I have not heard a compelling argument to raise taxes and I think budget negotiators should take that option off the table.
The governor signed my bill to look at raising the speed limit from 70 to 75 mph along certain stretches of the state's highways. To read my news release on this bill, click here.
Earlier today, the governor also signed my bill to permit nursing assistants to perform simple care tasks under indirect supervision. House Bill 1727, co-sponsored by my friend and colleague, Rep. Shelly Short from Addy, will specifically help rural areas that are adopting more telemedicine technologies and procedures by allowing medical tasks such as temperature, pulse, blood pressure to be performed by a nursing assistant without a supervisor present.
By now, most of you have probably heard the disturbing news about former Rep. Susan Fagan, who resigned her seat effective today due to allegations of falsifying travel reimbursement documents. This situation saddens me for so many reasons and on so many levels. If you have any questions about this situation or are wondering about the replacement process for that legislative seat, or if you have casework that her office was assisting you with, feel free to contact me.