Dear Friends and Neighbors,
|Join Sen. Ericksen, Rep. Van Werven and I for a town hall meeting March 14|
|Whatcom Community College, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Syre Student Center
237 W Kellogg Road, Bellingham
This week has been busy with a lot of floor action in the state House. We've passed more than 100 bills from the House to the Senate with more to come. Here's a brief update on what's happened this week:
House Bill 1268, which requires the state Department of Agriculture to assess whether the use of hemp products in animal feed should be allowed, is my first bill of the 2015 legislative session to pass the House. It now advances to the Senate for consideration.
Legislation I co-sponsored, House Bill 2160, to provide civil liability to the unconsented distribution of intimate images also passed the House 97-0 Monday. This bill is a good first step in ensuring victims of revenge porn have proper recourse. As you may know, I also sponsored a bill this session to provide a criminal sentence to those committing revenge porn, House Bill 1272. That bill has been pulled from the House Rules Committee and is awaiting time for floor consideration.
March 11 is house of origin cutoff. House bills must pass out of the House and vice versa in the Senate, in order for them to advance this legislative session. I'm hopeful House Bill 1272, and more of my sponsored legislation, will be considered by the chamber before it is too late.
One bill currently awaiting floor consideration is House Bill 2009, which seeks to remove personal exemptions from child immunization requirements. Currently, the Board of Health requires the following vaccinations in order for a child to attend a public or private school, or licensed day care: chickenpox, measles, polio, tetanus, whooping cough, mumps, hepatitis B, and several others. However, parents can seek exemptions from these requirements on account of religious beliefs, personal or philosophical beliefs, or by obtaining a note from a licensed health care practitioner. Under the bill, parents would lose their rights to ask for a personal or philosophical exemption for their children.
Many have reached out to me and expressed concerns about the bill. I, too, share many of the concerns that have been brought forth. I recognize the importance of immunizations and the Board of Health's point of view, however I strongly believe parents are the ultimate and final authority with regard to their children's health, safety, education and upbringing. As such, I will not be supporting this legislation.
Garnering a lot of attention lately are House bills 1355 (increasing the state minimum wage to $12 an hour over four years) and 1356 (mandating employers provide paid sick leave). As you may know, the House passed both of these measures this week.
While these two bills are well-intentioned, they will have an adverse effect on employers as well as employees. Businesses will have to reduce other benefits, the number of available jobs, work hours, or absorb the costs of these burdensome proposals some other way. Instead, we should ensure businesses can grow, offer more jobs, and support local economies.
There's still another full day of floor action this week, and more next week. You can always stay updated on the latest floor activity and legislation moving through the process by visiting this website. I also encourage you to contact me if you have questions, concerns or ideas about any of the bills being considered by the House. It's important I hear from you.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you.