Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2012 legislative sessions finally came to an end on April 11, after 24 hours of voting, a 60-day regular session and 31 days of two special sessions. In this time, the Legislature passed almost 300 bills. It is wonderful to be back in Lynden after a long time in Olympia! The sessions were both rewarding and challenging.
The need for the special sessions can be attributed to a couple things:
- An historical shift occurred in the Senate this year when a philosophical majority put forth an alternative budget solution that ended up passing. With years of one-party control, this was an upset. The proposal was met with resistance by House Democrats near the end of the regular session, resulting in the inability to reach an agreement on a budget.
- Additionally, the Legislature spent a large amount of time in the early days of the regular session focused on social issues. We were at least halfway through the session before we addressed the budget. The House Republicans came to Olympia in January with a plan of action to address the budget shortfall.
The operating budget is the largest of the budgets passed by the Legislature. As such, it is the most difficult to vote on. This year it was even harder. The Senate philosophical majority changed the nature of the budget by allowing Republicans to bring reforms and other views to the negotiating table. While these changes helped make the budget more palatable, it did not do enough. I voted “no” on the operating budget because I believe we could have found a better solution.
The budget leaves a very low reserve, most of which is one-time money from an accounting change. Using one-time money for on-going programs is part of the reason we continue to have budget shortfalls. Additionally, the reforms don't immediately reduce state government spending, which could lead to yet another special session – the seventh in two years. I feel like this is a missed opportunity in which we could have made the strong choices like those written into the original plan of action drafted by House Republicans.
In the final hours of session we also passed a capital budget. This budget is responsible for the creation of new buildings and infrastructure. I voted “yes” on the capital budget. Our district received funding for several important local projects. (If you would like to know more about these projects please visit this Web site and enter 42nd District). Most importantly, construction and infrastructure funded by the capital budget creates jobs.
Dairy Products Commission Bill
You may have heard that after the regular session ended the governor refused to sign some bills until budget talks progressed. This is true. One of the postponed bills was legislation I sponsored, House Bill 2367. In previous legislative updates I have talked a little bit about this bill. This legislation will realign the district boundaries for the Washington Dairy Products Commission and give the Washington State Dairy Federation the rulemaking authority to redraw their own lines in the future. There was no reason to hold this bill hostage during budget negotiations and it was a discourteous maneuver by the governor. However, I'm happy to report the governor did eventually sign House Bill 2367 into law.
Association of Washington Business Cornerstone Award
I was pleased to receive an Association of Washington Business (AWB) Cornerstone Award this year. The award was given to recognize my support of businesses within Washington state and growing private-sector employment. The AWB presents these awards annually to legislators. The AWB Vice President of Government Affairs, Gary Chandler, presented me with the award while I was in Olympia for the final days of special session. The AWB is Washington's oldest and largest statewide business association and is often referred to as the state's chamber of commerce. It includes more than 7,800 members representing 650,000 employees.
If you would like to ask questions about the 2012 sessions, I invite you to join me for a telephone town hall on April 30. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and run for one hour. The other two legislators from the 42nd District, Rep. Overstreet and Sen. Ericksen, will also be participating. Residents may join the community conversation, which is like a call-in radio show, by calling 1-877-229-8493 and entering code 17803. Once connected, you can talk to me, or my fellow legislators, directly. This is a great way for you to get answers to any lingering questions and let me know what is important to you.
While I am back at home I will be keeping in contact via periodic e-mail updates like this one. If you would like to pass along this e-mail to others who might like to sign up, please direct them to my Web site at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/buys. You can also contact my office with your questions and comments at (360) 786-7854. I will continue to place priorities before politics and keep the communities of the 42nd District at the forefront of my mind.
It's an honor to represent you,
P.S. I want you to know I respect your time and privacy. If for any reason you would no longer like to receive my e-mail updates, you may go to this link to unsubscribe. Simply enter your name, e-mail address and select “Leave.” Your friends and family can also sign up for my e-mail updates by going to this same link and selecting “Join.” Please forward this to anyone else you think might be interested in what is happening in Olympia.