Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Currently, we're spending most of our time in committees, various stakeholder meetings, caucus meetings and constituent meetings. If you ever want to shadow me for a day and see what being a legislator is all about, bring good walking shoes and be prepared for long hours of sitting followed by hectic foot races around the capital campus.
Issues and priorities for session?
My House Republican colleagues and I enter each session with a set of guiding principles or priorities that help us filter through the noise as we make decisions on your behalf. This year, we will be guided by these thoughts:
- Provide students with a world-class education.
- Empower families and strengthen communities.
- Protect taxpayers and hold state agencies accountable.
While these are not all-encompassing ideas, they will provide an anchor to keep us grounded as the chaos of session gets into full swing.
Fully funding education: to raise taxes or not?
Obviously, the state Supreme Court's McCleary decision is one of our main goals for this session. It will be interesting to see how the final solution to fully fund education comes about. The governor showed his hand early by calling for the largest tax increase in state history – something I know the voters in my district have no interest in.
I believe every effort should be made to fully fund education within existing revenues before, rather than the governor's position of wanting to raise taxes right off the bat. We need to make the hard decision of prioritizing, not take the governor's easy path of new and increased taxes.
Whiskey's for drinking, water's for fighting
Another state Supreme Court decision, the Whatcom County vs. Hirst decision doesn't affect existing water rights, but it casts doubt on whether new wells for homes can be drilled anywhere in the state. We need to fix the problems created by this lawsuit.
Changes to Obamacare as rates skyrocket around the nation
I've been chosen once again to serve as the ranking Republican on the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. I also have weekly conference calls with Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rogers' health care staff so that I can stay informed of what's happening at the federal level in regards to Obamacare.
According to a recent report from the Department of Health and Human Services, insurance rates are rising around the nation by an average of 25 percent. As such, much of our focus at the state level will be on the inevitable changes coming to the Obamacare. We'll have to wait and see how this impacts us here in Washington state.
Another one of our main concerns is the Medicaid expansion our state participated in. In Washington state, 89 percent of the exchange participants are Medicaid patients. There will be changes to the Medicaid expansion program, but at this time, we're uncertain what those changes will look like.
Know someone who wants to be a legislative page?
I have the opportunity to sponsor several legislative pages throughout the session. A page delivers interoffice mail, attends page school to learn more about the legislative process, and can even take part in the daily flag procession. Many pages have gone on to be legislative interns, session aides, legislative assistants, staffers and elected officials.
A legislative page must be between the ages of 14-16 and get permission from parents and school. They stay with host families in the Olympia area and are paid $35/day. For more information on the page program and how to apply, click here or call my Olympia office at (360) 786-7844.
Keeping in touch, staying involved!
I want to remind you once again how you can keep in touch with me while I'm in Olympia and how you can stay involved in YOUR state government:
- Capitol Buzz– A daily electronic clip service of House Republicans. Click here to subscribe.
- Capitol Report– My weekly three-minute radio program, or podcast, on important issues I'm working on in Olympia. Click here to listen to current and previous podcasts. You can also listen via iTunes and Google Play.
- Check out my Website–www.representativejoeschmick.com. From this link, you can get more information about me, the bills I've sponsored and view my news releases as well as current and past e-newsletters.
- Photos– Access my photo gallery here.
- TVW– The state's own version of C-Span, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live. You can also watch on your computer, smartphone or tablet: www.tvw.org
- Legislature's Website– You can get bill reports, track legislation, view committee agendas and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature at: www.leg.wa.gov
- Contact my Olympia office: You can contact my Legislative Assistant, Sharra Finley, at (360) 786-7844. I'm always happy to hear from constituents. If you're planning a trip to Olympia during session, please call ahead so she can find time in my schedule for us to visit.
Thank you for the honor and privilege of serving you in the state House of Representatives.