It's the third week of the 2019 legislative session. Already, we've seen floor action on a couple of measures. One of those was on a bill that amends Initiative-940 (I-940). Our state constitution allows the people the right to approve or reject some state laws through the initiative process. In November, voters approved I-940, which deals with the use of force by law enforcement and other police training standards.
Last year, several law enforcement groups opposed I-940. In order to fix some of the inconsistencies of the original initiative, law enforcement and community groups—including De-Escalate Washington, the original sponsors of I-940—came together to find common ground. The result is House Bill 1064. The new deadly-force standard outlined in the bill is a more objective, balanced definition of the use of deadly force by law enforcement. It also contains clarification on training and investigatory standards. The bill was approved by the House unanimously, 98-0, and now moves on to the Senate for further consideration.
In odd-numbered years, like 2019, the Legislature is tasked with reviewing and approving the state's two-year spending plans. Those plans are broken down into three main categories: the operating, transportation and capital budgets. The bulk of our time this session will be focused on debating and discussing various proposals for those budgets.
As I reported in my previous email update, despite $4 billion of unexpected additional revenue, the governor has proposed a more than 22 percent increase in spending for the 2019-21 operating budget. In order to balance, the $54.4 billion plan would require hefty new taxes, including a capital gains income tax, an increase to B&O taxes, and a change to the state's real estate tax.
In the House Appropriations Committee, which deals mainly with fiscal policy, we've heard from several individuals and representatives of different organizations seeking additional funding. In some cases, they are asking for even more money than what the governor has requested. Although we have just begun to evaluate the fiscal policy proposals before the committee, I'm opposed to many of these big spending requests.
In the House Education Committee, we are continuing our work on McCleary. That includes taking a deep nosedive into K-12 education policy. We've held several work sessions on education funding and spent time learning about the different functions of education organizations around the state. As the ranking member of the committee, it's good to see new members getting familiar with all the nuances of education policy.
One of the most interesting conversations this year is on whether the state should go to a simple majority for bond-votes. Although this deals mainly with the capital budget, it's also a topic in education. Because I'm assigned to both the Education and Capital Budget committees, I'm hearing about it from each perspective.
In the Capital Budget Committee, we are learning about the use of cross-laminated timber in several construction projects around the state. And, we've also heard from the Orca Taskforce, which is asking the capital budget to fund the bulk of the $1.1 billion the governor would like to spend on orca recovery.
Legislative update videos and live radio broadcasts
Every two weeks I publish a legislative update video regarding my work at the state Capitol. In each video, I discuss key public policy issues, my committee work, and events that affect our district.
Click below to watch my recent video on the first two weeks of session and what's being discussed and considered in each of my committees.
Every Friday morning Rep. Keith Goehner, R-Dryden, and I are guests on three different live radio broadcasts:
- KPQ Wenatchee (AM 560, Fridays at 7:10 a.m.)
- KOHO (FM 101.1, Fridays at 7:30 a.m.)
- KOZI (AM 1230, Fridays at 7:45 a.m.)
Click here to go to my SoundCloud page and listen to my recent radio reports.
House Page Program
The House Page Program connects students to the government in a truly remarkable way. For one week they work in Olympia and actively participate in the process of our state government. Each year, students from around the state apply to the program. Along with delivering messages and documents to legislators and staff, students attend “page school” and learn about the inner-workings of our state government. Frequently, the experience results in life-long civic engagement. In fact, many of these students go on to become local, state or even nationally elected officials.
While working at the state Capitol, pages live with host families in Olympia-area neighborhoods. Pages are paid $35 per day. To become a page, applicants must have a legislative sponsor, be between the ages of
14-16, and obtain written permission from their parents and school. If you, or someone you know, is interested in participating in the House Page Program please give my office a call. We would love to talk to you and answer any questions you may have.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, concerns or comments about legislation or state issues. Better yet, if you are planning a visit to Olympia, come see me. I welcome your feedback and questions. My contact information is listed below.
Thank for the privilege of serving you in Olympia!