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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

This year’s legislative session began Jan. 10, and currently the Legislature is addressing the budget shortfall for the remainder of the 2009-11 budget which ends June 30. We are also discussing the shortfall for the 2011-13 budget.

Cuts will be severe to human services, where the largest part of our budget is contained, and which is not constitutionally-protected (like education). As I’ve said before, we must take this opportunity to reach out to our neighbors and rally to take care of those needs in our communities that will be unmet by government services as a result of the cuts.

The best way to get our state out of this financial mess is to not only reduce spending, but to help our businesses succeed. As the owner of a small business myself, I know the struggles employers are facing meeting payroll and tax obligations. Washington’s economy depends on our small businesses to create the majority of our jobs. The Legislature must provide incentives to help them not only succeed, but stay afloat during these difficult times. This will pay off in dividends as we watch people obtain employment to help our economy grow again.

Regarding our economy, agriculture is one of the state’s largest employers. Recently, several bills were heard regarding water rights:

  • House Bill 1296 would create a state Water Commission, composed equally of members from Western and Eastern Washington, to manage the state’s water resources. Some responsibilities would include:
    • Supervising appropriation, diversion and use of water within the state;
    • Making determinations as to the discharge and capacities of water sources being used, or that may be used, for beneficial purposes;
    • Providing assistance to water right applicants; and,
    • Supervising water resource laws.
  • House Bill 1054 would recognize conservation practices as a beneficial use for the purposes of relinquishment.
  • House Bill 1297 would extend the time period allowed to put a water right to beneficial use from five to 15 years, encouraging crop rotation and conservation.

I’m supporting this reasonable legislation to help growers and producers around our state.

And now I must confess to you that last week I made the biggest mistake a legislator can make. I signed on to a bill without fully reading the text. The measure has to do with limited service pregnancy centers. I actually do NOT support the bill now, and have had to eat a batch of crow over this!  I signed on to the bill with the belief it was all about full disclosure – which I do support.  A young girl who may be potentially facing a very difficult situation certainly has the right to know what services will or will not be available to her at whatever “pregnancy service center” she enters.

However, this bill goes too far.  The potential for litigation in section 6 is overreaching and overly prescriptive.  I also have since learned the signage required to be posted in multiple languages invites problems and could also invite cause of action and the possibility of a fine. I truly support the limited pregnancy services centers and believe they provide a viable option (no pun intended) to young women who may be struggling with a very difficult decision in their lives. I appreciate hearing from all those who contacted me with comments about this bill.

As always, please feel free to contact my office with any questions or suggestions. It is an honor to serve as your representative.


Maureen Walsh

State Representative Maureen Walsh, 16th Legislative District
420 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7836 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000