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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Today is the 44th day of the 60-day legislative session. Things are still looking promising that we will end our work on time. The Senate even released the first budget proposal yesterday! I'll provide more information about that and the House Democrat budget proposal (to be released later this week) in my next e-mail.
Last week, I was pleased to visit with members of our local 4-H group here in Olympia. What young adults learn from 4-H lasts them for the rest of their lives, and I'm proud of the work this and other groups do to help raise responsible and active citizens.
You may have heard that Congressman Doc Hastings, who represents part of our 16th Legislative District, is retiring after 20 years of service. Thanks, Doc, for all your years of public service and all the best to you in retirement.
Last week marked the “cutoff” for House bills to pass the House, and Senate bills to pass the Senate, or they are likely considered “dead” for the year. We spent a great deal of time voting and debating bills on the House floor. Here are some highlights:
- House Bill 2377 to address quality early learning standards and subsidized child care passed the House. I had some reservations about this legislation as it moved through the process and I spoke with child care providers and advocates. However, an amendment adopted on the House floor made several changes which I believe merited the bill moving forward in the process. Some of the changes from the original legislation:
- requires the Department of Early Learning (DEL) to publish “early achiever” rating levels only for programs receiving a state subsidy, rather than all programs;
- provides an option to those programs receiving a state subsidy to have a program description published;
- allows providers who have completed all level 2 activities and been approved to continue to receive the state subsidy while they are waiting for level 3 rating activities;
- extends the timeline to licensing for certain family, friend and neighbor child care providers;
- requires the DEL to provide a pathway for family home providers to administer ECEAP;
- and more.
While this legislation is far from perfect, the conversation will continue in the Senate, where the bill is now in the process. I encourage you to continue to share your feedback with me and with our senator, Mike Hewitt.
- House Bill 2746 would leverage federal funding to provide services for families of those with developmental disabilities currently on a waiting list in our state. I was pleased this measure passed the House unanimously. Unfortunately, two proposed amendments to provide $1 and $2 an hour pay increase for caregivers from the additional $48 million that will be leveraged from the federal government were rejected. I thought it was a good idea to show appreciation to the people who care for our most vulnerable folks in our community settings and haven't received a pay raise in five years. Caregivers are special people who work because they are passionate about helping people – they save our state a great deal of money by helping people with developmental disabilities out of state institutions and become an integrated part of our communities. Read more about what happened here.
- House Bill 2201 is labeled as a “transparency” bill, and would require increased public disclosure of employer tax information for those employers receiving tax preferences from the state. While on its face this may seem like a good idea, a further look reveals that some proprietary information could be released to the public that could harm those employers. We all want transparency, and ensuring tax preferences are serving our state as intended is important. However, a citizen commission already reviews the viability of these preferences, and we cannot sacrifice private information in the name of transparency. I voted “no” on this bill when it came before the House. It's now in the Senate Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.
As always, please feel free to contact my office with your questions, concerns and suggestions. I always appreciate hearing from you and I'm honored to serve you.
420 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7836 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000