Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As the Legislature meets for a very quick, 60-day session, our top two priorities are: Balance the Budget, and Enable Job Creation!
We need to find ways to balance our budget within existing revenue – revenue that is about $2 billion higher than last biennium. And, we need to adopt proposals that will help the private sector create long-term jobs in Washington state.
However, many in Olympia seem to lack any sense of urgency for the true tasks at hand. Instead, we're spending time on bills that would abolish the state's seldom-used death penalty, or one that would legalize the non-medicinal use of marijuana, or one that would make spitting or roller skating on a state ferry a misdemeanor. We've even had legislation to create a Washington State Bank. You heard me. Someone somewhere thinks that your tax dollars should be directly involved in the banking industry, including the very dangerous realm of home mortgages – with no idea where the initial money will come from to make the bank in the first place!
We've also heard several bills that would actually make fraud in our election process more prevalent. One of the bills would allow people to register to vote up to 5:00 p.m. on election day. This idea of “same day registering and voting” has led to serious cases of voter fraud in the handful of states that have implemented it. On election day, County Auditors should be focused on recording and processing ballots – not trying to register new voters. And, there is a bill to start registering voters at age 16 – though they wouldn't vote until age 18.
The point is, however you feel on these issues or others, they are not the reason we're in Olympia right now. The reason we're here – the only reason, in my opinion – is to come up with a budget solution that protects education, public safety and the developmentally disabled community.
And, to pass legislation that will help create more private-sector jobs in this state. Anything that falls outside the spectrum of those two priorities should wait until next year when the full, 105-day session is in full swing.
The Regulatory Freedom and Accountability Act
To me, regulatory reform falls into two distinct and equally important categories. The first is saving taxpayer dollars by streamlining government operations, ending duplicative state services and targeting government waste. The second is to help create more private sector jobs by reducing red tape, providing more stability and certainty for employers, and changing the culture in which state agencies create, implement and enforce rules and regulations.
And, as I said earlier, those are the two main priorities we have in Olympia right now: balancing the budget by making state government more efficient and streamlined, and implementing policies that help get Washington working again. My bill, House Bill 2276, helps to accomplish both of those goals.
If you'd like to read more about the bill and how the Democrats killed it in committee, click here to read the press release I sent to our local media.
My First Time on TVW
I also had the opportunity this week to appear on TVW's “Inside Olympia.” I was the featured guest from the House Republicans, along with Sen. Joe Zarelli (the Senate Republican budget leader) for the Senate Republicans. The topic was government reform. I gotta admit, I was a little nervous. I'd much rather be staring down an angry steer from 10 yards than staring down the video cameras from 10 feet. If you'd like to watch, click the picture of me on the right and scroll the media player to 33:00.
Fund Education First
On Tuesday, Jan. 31 at 8:00 a.m., the House Education Appropriations and Oversight Committee will hold a public hearing on our House Republican proposal to “fund education first.” House Bill 2533 would change the state operating budget process by prioritizing and fully funding K-12 education. This is consistent with the recent state Supreme Court decision – and our firm belief – that education should receive the first dollar from the state budget, not the last. If you want to watch that committee hearing live, click here to go to the TVW live feed and press play on the media player.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns on any issue, feel free to contact my office. It is a pleasure and a privilege to serve you in
State Representative, 15th Legislative District