Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I want to thank those of you who were able to join Rep. Joel Kretz, Sen. John Smith and me last week during our telephone town hall. We had a great discussion with the folks back home. It's always good to hear familiar voices and stay in tune with those we serve in Olympia. Here is a quick breakdown of the participation level and the results of the survey questions:
Implementing new rules for the House
Also last week, I joined with my House Republican colleagues in an effort to amend the rules that we follow in the House of Representatives. We proposed four new rules last week:
- Require a two-thirds vote of the House in order for any tax increase legislation to pass. The voters have approved this concept five times in the last 20 years! Last year, I-1185 passed in every county in the state; in 44 of 49 legislative districts; and here in the 7th District it passed with 75% support! I am also a cosponsor of HJR 4206 which would put this taxpayer protection into the Washington State Constitution. It's time for Olympia to finally understand and follow the will of the people when it comes to raising taxes.
- Allow each House member a public hearing on one of their bills. Each legislator represents about 137,000 citizens. We would have more bipartisanship and new ideas if each member were allowed to bring an issue to the table for discussion.
- Require that education be funded first – before any other appropriation is made – in a separate, stand-alone budget. If education is our paramount duty – and it is – let's treat it as such and not hold it hostage to potential tax increases.
- Allow citizens to testify first and for a longer period of time when testifying in committees. We continually hear from the same people in Olympia – lobbyists, agencies, associations, unions, etc. Sometimes, the public – the very ones we're supposed to represent – don't get enough time to testify! We should give citizen testimony preference, especially for those who have to take time off of work and drive hundreds of miles in order to exercise their right to talk to their elected officials.
While the first three were rejected outright by the House majority party, I'm extremely pleased that House Democrats adopted our last proposal to give citizen testimony preference in committee. While some media outlets on the West side of the state were calling it a “win” for the House Republican Caucus, it's really a “win” for the public – for the taxpayers!
The Second Amendment
Many of you have contacted my office to ask about guns. I know this is an emotional and sensitive subject for many but I feel it is imperative that you know where I stand on this sometimes controversial issue. While tragic, the recent shootings in our nation should not serve as the impetus for the continuing degradation of our “inalienable rights.” Law abiding citizens are not the problem, nor will limiting law abiding citizens' access to firearms or ammunition make our schools or society a safer place. With that said, there will be many different bills introduced here in the Legislature this session and of course, there has been a lot of talk and fear about the president's gun control bills. However, I swore an oath to “uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, and the Constitution and laws of the State of Washington.” I believe that standing up for our Second Amendment rights is the right thing to do.
My bill (House Bill 1112) to allow livestock owners to use lethal force to protect their animals from wolves and other predators received a public hearing this week in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. To read more about this issue, click here for my press release.
House Bill 1044, dubbed the Abortion Coverage Mandate bill – or Reproductive Parity by its sponsors and by Gov. Jay Inslee – was expected to be voted out of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee on Friday, Feb. 8. This bill requires insurance carriers operating in Washington to cover abortions if they also offer maternity care coverage. This is yet another insurance mandate (we have over 50 right now!) that continues to drive the cost of health insurance up and removes competition from the market place. Most importantly, it's also an attack on religious freedoms and liberties. I spoke against this bill in committee and will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to try to kill this bill.
As always, please feel free to send this e-newsletter to family and friends. I appreciate how involved 7th District residents are and am looking forward to keeping you informed throughout the session.
It is an honor to serve you in Olympia.
427A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7908 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000