Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Today is fiscal committee cutoff. Bills that have a financial impact are examined by the Appropriations Committee, the Transportation Committee, or the Capital Budget Committee. This past week has been very busy for me as I continue to serve on the House Appropriations Committee. On Monday, floor action begins in earnest as we approach our the House of Origin deadline on March 8. I anticipate long hours into the night next week and through the weekend as we try to kill bad bills and amend some bills to make them better for the citizens of Washington.
We have updated our “good/bad bill” list after the committee deadlines, which you can find here.
It was great to see the JROTC Color Guard from Clarkston visit Olympia for the Opening Ceremonies on Presidents Day. In the picture below is (from left to right): Technical Sgt. and Instructor, Doug Lincoln; Rep. Mary Dye; Zachry Leachman; Clara Grubb; Sean Carson; Krystal Pellor; Rep. Joe Schmick.
Two years ago, legislation was passed that took important tools away from law enforcement — including limiting their options for vehicular pursuits. Since then, many suspects have simply driven away and police officers can’t do anything about it. This has especially impacted auto thefts, which have increased 93% since these new “reforms” went into effect.
Bipartisan House Bill 1363, which would restore some options for law enforcement regarding vehicular pursuits, did pass out of its policy committee last week. However, it was watered down considerably and expires in two years. We’ll be right back here again working on the same problem.
The bill is still alive and moving, however. Which means it can still be amended and improved. My hope is that with pressure from the public and the media, the majority party will make the needed changes to improve public safety and protect our communities while holding criminals accountable. Here are a few recent editorials on this issue:
“No task force needed regarding police pursuits” – The Vancouver Columbian
“One lawmaker should not thwart proposed changes to WA’s police pursuit law” – The Tri-City Herald
Vehicle miles travelled tax
There is continued effort to enact a statewide vehicle miles travelled tax (VMT) which appears to have been rebranded the road usage charge (RUC). As I have said before, I was one of the first ones who signed up for a pilot program a few years ago. I wanted to see firsthand how the state was going to implement, monitor, control, and collect monies from a VMT or RUC.
I continue to believe this would impact rural residents more than urban. In our neck of the woods, it’s not uncommon to drive 40 or 60 miles for health care services, groceries, or school activities. In more densely packed urban areas, residents can reach these same destinations in just a few miles. Why should rural residents be “taxed” more simply because of where we live?
Thank you for staying engaged. If you have any questions or concerns about state government of legislation we’re dealing with, please contact my office. We’re here to help.