Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This week, Senate Democrats passed a measure to suspend citizen-approved Initiative 960, also known as the Taxpayer Protection Act. This initiative requires a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate, or a vote of the people, in order to raise taxes. It also provides for public notification when a bill is heard in Olympia which would increase fees or taxes. We're expecting this bill to come to the House for consideration this weekend.
I will not vote to reverse the will of the people to clear the way for new taxes by suspending the initiative. In our district, 59 percent of voters approved I-960. To be clear, the Democrats are suspending I-960 to clear the way for higher taxes. Your families and businesses have had to get by with less, and so can government, if we can prioritize.
If you would like to voice your concerns about overturning Initiative 960, there are several things you can do:
- Contact members of the House Finance Committee and ask them to not move the bill forward.
- Come to Olympia this Saturday, Feb. 13 for a 9:00 a.m. public hearing on SB 6130 in the House Finance Committee (House Hearing Room A) and then sit in the gallery in the afternoon to show your support of taxpayer protections.
I understand if you cannot make the long drive over to Olympia, but please know that I will be fighting long and hard to protect taxpayers and the future of our state. We don't need more taxes, we need JOBS in our state.
Last week was “cutoff,” or the deadline for House bills to be voted out of House committees. Otherwise, they are considered “dead.” Here's a brief synopsis of some bills you may be interested in:
- House Bill 2980 would, at the request of growers, increase fees to provide more days available for field burning.
- House Bill 2603 would provide a two-day compliance opportunity for small businesses before state penalties can be assessed.
- House Bill 2197 would restructure the Department of Social and Health Services and place several of its core responsibilities into four new smaller departments, including the Department of Economic Services, Department of Medical Assistance, Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, and the Department of Children's Services. DSHS would still exist to support the new departments with such things as accounting, technology, etc.
- House Bill 2550 would allow local jurisdictions to adopt nuisance procedures to address gang activities with injunctions, restraining orders, etc.
- House Bill 2542 would ask for a third-party review of local planning under the Growth Management Act compared with water availability, and help local governments plan for future water quantities.
- House Bill 3070 would create an income tax.
Among the bills passed off the House floor last week were several public safety reforms. The Lakewood Police Officers' Memorial Act, an amendment to the state constitution, would expand judicial discretion to deny bail for suspects charged with the most dangerous crimes or for those possibly facing a life sentence. Maurice Clemmons, the suspect in the murder of four police officers in Lakewood, was given bail when he was facing a life sentence. With nothing to lose, he went on a crime spree and likely would have continued had he not been killed.
Another bill passed by the House would allow the prosecution of any adult who aids a violent offender or helps them escape from law enforcement. There have been several cases in the last few years in which a family member aids a criminal and receives a lesser punishment simply because they are family. A third bill would expand notification to state agencies, victims and victim's families when a mentally-ill criminal goes missing from a state facility. It took authorities two-and-a-half days to recover a criminally-insane person from the care of officials at Eastern State Hospital last summer. Had more people been notified sooner, he may have been found more quickly.
I voted for all of these measures. They now go to the Senate for consideration in that chamber.
Our state's budget situation does
n't look good for any state programs or services, including education. The governor proposed gutting levy equalization to balance the budget in December. Not only is it wrong to put education on the chopping block, it goes against our state constitution, which mandates that we provide equal and full funding for education. There are 217 school districts in this state which depend on levy equalization, out of 295 total districts. This includes Dayton, Waitsburg, Walla Walla, Prescott, Touchet, Pasco and many other school districts in our area. I will fight to keep levy equalization dollars for every district in our state to ensure every child has equal opportunities in Washington.
Join me and Rep. Terry Nealey for a telephone town hall conversation!
I'm excited to try out a new technology that allows me to hear from you. It's called a teleforum, or telephone town hall. It will work much like a radio show, with listeners and callers asking us questions. You will have an opportunity to join in this community conversation on Monday, Feb. 22, from 7-8 p.m., from the comfort of your own home. If you would like to participate, please dial in a couple minutes before the call begins, toll-free (877) 229-8493, then dial pin number 15516. I really look forward to talking with you about issues that matter to you.
As always, don't hesitate to contact my office. I love hearing from you, and it's an honor to serve you in Olympia.
420 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7836 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000