Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we entered the month of May, I expected to be back in the 42nd Legislative District discussing the good and the bad of my first legislative session. However, I spent my first Monday of the month back in Olympia voting on bills.
As you are aware, the Legislature's regular session adjourned Friday, April 22, two days earlier than the scheduled 105 days. The governor called the Legislature into special session on Tuesday, April 26 since we adjourned without a state operating budget or a capital construction budget for the 2011-13 biennium.
In the special session, any bills we vote on are considered necessary to implement the budget. We passed a total of eight bills Monday and were sent home until budget negotiators are closer to an agreed upon budget proposal. The Senate has chosen to remain at the state Capitol, even though there is not an agreement on the budgets. On the House side, we are in a “rolling session” meaning we will only come to the Capitol when we have bills to vote on or it appears we have a budget agreement and we will be able to wrap things up in a few days. When the entire Legislature is in session, it costs taxpayers as much as $16,000 per day.
I am very frustrated and taxpayers have every right to be upset. The Legislature had nearly four months to complete our work, and we knew in November what the state's financial situation was and that drafting a budget would be difficult. My House Republican colleagues and I offered a number of solutions and even drafted an alternative budget proposal to the one put forward by House Democrats. A number of our ideas were incorporated into their budget. However, there were still budget gimmicks, one-time spending, lack of real reform, and deep cuts to education and our most vulnerable.
The other major disappointment of the session was not passing meaningful workers' compensation reform. Despite the Senate passing a strong, bipartisan bill supported by the governor and having the support in the House to pass it, the majority party leadership will not allow the bill to come up for a vote. In fact, Monday was our fourth attempt at a procedural motion to bring a reform bill directly to the floor for a vote. Washington State Wire has a good summary describing the situation “here.” I truly believe without addressing this issue, it could end up costing us jobs.
Bills of interest
Last week the governor signed two bills I prime-sponsored. House Bill 1467 provides clarification of what constitutes the definition of a “well.” The Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) has been considering regulation for simple actions, such as surface soil sampling and evaluation. This law should ease the concerns of the agricultural community about increase enforcement from DOE. This bill passed through the Legislature with unanimous support.
House Bill 1538 makes it a crime to transport animals, unless exempted, to a destination other than the address listed on the transportation document. There have been instances of livestock being diverted to feed lots and never arriving at their required destination. This law will also assist the state veterinarian in tracking animals imported into the state for disease traceability purposes. The cattle and dairy industries are supportive of the measure and it received strong support in the Legislature.
Although the Legislature is in a “special session,” please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. It is important to me that we keep our communication lines open. I look forward to the opportunity to be back in district and visiting with constituents.
Please contact me if you ever have any ideas, concerns or questions to pass along. I am here to serve you and the 42nd District.
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