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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2013 legislative session began this week, and it could be one for the record books. With a new governor (who campaigned on “no tax increases” but is already starting to waiver); an untested “Majority Coalition” of Republicans and two Democrats running things in the Senate; a liberal Seattle Democrat ruling the House chambers with an iron fist; and a hard-nosed and growing group of House Republicans chomping at the bit to provide common-sense solutions to our state's problems – things could get interesting very quickly!
We enter this 105-day session around $900 million in the red for the next two-year budget cycle. The recent McCleary decision with the State Supreme Court is also expected to add another billion dollars or so to our education spending. Yet the state is expected to take in between $1.5 billion and $2 billion more in new revenues over the next two years. As I've said before, state government is growing faster than the incomes of the taxpayers who support it. Part of my job is to work to change this inequity.
One of the bills I'm cosponsoring this year is House Joint Resolution 4203 which would amend the state constitution to require the legislature adopt a balanced budget. It surprises many folks back home that while the state's governor is required to propose a balanced state budget, the legislature is under no obligation to pass one. I think the time for this further taxpayer protect is now – while the legislature is once again dealing with a budget shortfall. Otherwise, the temptation for some in Olympia to engage in “credit card budgeting” may become to enticing to resist.
I'm also again proposing the Regulatory Freedom and Accountability Act (House Bill 1163). Here are some of the highlights of my bill – which seeks to help reduce the regulatory burden on employers and families around the state:
- Prevents state agencies from creating more rules until the economy improves;
- Requires the governor to sign significant regulations and rules created by state agencies and that they sit through at least one legislative session for legislative review;
- Any regulation or rule that imposes more than $1,000 on an individual or $5,000 on an employer can only be implemented if it is enacted into law by the legislature (Someone needs to be responsible for the litany of costly rules impacting citizens – a faceless bureaucrat in Olympia is NOT accountable; an elected representative of the people, however, is VERY accountable and can be voted out of office!)
- Prohibits state agencies from retroactively issuing penalties in situations where the department signed off on paperwork;
- Would require every new bill, act, ordinance, resolution or rule to provide specific language showing constitutional authority for the action;
- Requires state agencies to issue permits within 90 days – if they don't, the permit is assumed to be granted;
- Allows employers at least five days to correct any violation of state law or agency rule before the agency may impose fines, penalties or administrative actions;
- Requires government agencies to do a private property takings impact analysis and economic impact analysis before adopting policies or rules impacting Washington citizens.
I hope you'll join me in supporting this effort to reduce the size and scope of state government. I'll continue to keep you informed during the 2013 session – and please contact me with any questions or concerns. It is truly a privilege and an honor to serve you in Olympia.
421 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7874 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000