Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I'm now in Olympia for the duration of the 2014 legislative session where I'll be debating and voting on legislation that will impact our state and the 7th Legislative District. I'm extremely hopeful that the Legislature can finish its work on time this year. In my opinion, there is no reason for the session to last one extra day. We should finish our work in the allotted 60 days and go home on time, if not a few days early! This is a message I heard from many of you (and I wholeheartedly agree) throughout the summer and fall and you can be sure I'm relaying that message to my colleagues at every opportunity! (The picture at right is NOT what it looks like this year. This picture was taken last year at about this time. This year, no snow in sight, thank goodness!)
Staying involved – staying connected
I want to make sure you have every opportunity to be involved in what goes on in Olympia. This is YOUR government. Accessibility to the legislative information and action is paramount to being an involved citizenry. Here are a few ways you can stay connected this year:
- Capitol Buzz – A daily electronic clip service of House Republicans. Click here to subscribe.
- The Current – An online publication from House Republicans to include you in the legislative process. Click here to subscribe.
- Capitol Report – A three-minute weekly radio program (aired weekly on KOMW in Omak and KCVL in Colville) that discusses current issues of the 7th District and the state. Click here to sign up for my RSS podcast. You can also get all of the Washington House Republican Capitol Report programs on your iPhone and iPad through the iTunes store by clicking here.
- Check out my website – www.representativeshellyshort.com. From this link, you can get more information about me, the bills I've sponsored and view my news releases.
- Photos – Access my photo gallery here.
- Video updates – Every week, I record a new legislative video update with the latest news from the Legislature. You can view my reports here on YouTube.
- TVW – The state's own version of C-Span, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live. You can also watch on your computer, smartphone or tablet: www.tvw.org
- Legislature's website – You can get bill reports, committee agendas and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature at: www.leg.wa.gov
Unlike the last several years, the Legislature enters this session WITHOUT a significant budget shortfall. In fact, the latest information about our state's 2013-15 biennial budget shows that we're projected to have an ending fund balance of around $377 million. This will provide budget writers with plenty of revenue to make the statutory changes needed in the 2014 supplemental budget (caseload adjustments, etc.). The supplemental budget is used to make the small adjustments necessary so that we stay within current revenues and we continue to meet our obligations, it is NOT intended to add new programs, increase spending or embark on new ideas with questionable costs.
However, if you watched Gov. Jay Insee's State of the State Address last week, you know that he's proposed a litany of new programs and new spending. I want to reiterate: Now is not the time to enact such large spending increases! Our hardworking taxpayers don't need an additional tax burden.
If you want more information on the three budgets – operating, transportation and capital – click here for a quick summary on each.
House Bill 2112 – Allowing incremental electricity produced as a result of efficiency improvements to hydroelectric generation projects whose energy output is marketed by the Bonneville Power Administration to qualify as an eligible renewable resource under I-937, the energy independence act. State residents pay millions of dollars each year for improvements that generate hydroelectricity more efficiently. However, those investments are not recognized as an eligible “renewable resource” under I-937. My bill would rectify this and help ratepayers deal with some of the unintended economic hardships caused by provisions of the initiative. This bill received a public hearing in the House Technology and Economic Development Committee last week and is scheduled for executive action on Friday.
House Bill 2113 – Modifying the exemption from contractor registration requirements for work that is casual, minor, or inconsequential. Current law assumes that a “handyman” who advertises is presumed to be a contractor subject to the Department of Labor and Industries' (L&I) subjective interpretation, which has been targeting these individuals. My bill raises the threshold to $1,200 per job (supplies and labor) and most importantly assumes handymen are NOT contractors. This way, L&I cannot subjectively go after these folks unless an individual falsely states he or she is a contractor. I believe folks who have skills ought to be able to support their families without fear of L&I coming after them.
House Bill 2261 and House Bill 2262 – I call these the “show your work” bills. We all remember having to show our work during math class in elementary school. These bills require the Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Department of Ecology (DOE) to “show their work” by categorizing on their websites the sources of information relied upon in support of significant agency actions. This is a further way to hold unelected bureaucrats accountable for their actions.
This Week in Olympia
This week we celebrated Kids' Day and Martin Luther King Day at the state Capitol. I also had the honor of participating in and speaking at the annual March for Life event at the Capitol steps yesterday. I joined other lawmakers and about 4,500 concerned citizens who believe we have an obligation to stand up for the unborn. I understand that this position is not popular with some, but I will never apologize for my belief that life is a sacred gift from our Creator. In that light, I continue to fight against House Bill 2148, the abortion mandate bill which would require all health insurance plans to cover abortions if they also cover maternity care. I hope you'll stand with me in this effort.
7th District lawmakers to host telephone town hall Feb. 3
Please join Sen. Brian Dansel and Reps. Joel Kretz and I for our 7th Legislative District telephone town hall on Monday, Feb. 3, at 7:00 p.m. to discuss state and community issues. To take part in the call, dial toll-free 1-877-229-8493 and enter PIN# 112381. The phone line will open shortly before the call begins. To ask us questions during the call, just press star three (*3) on your telephone keypads. We've found these events to be extremely helpful in keeping in contact with the folks back home. Your thoughts and opinions matter to us. I hope you'll be able to join us.
Thank you for placing your trust in me to be your voice in the Legislature. And thank you for taking the time to read my e-newsletter. If you have questions, comments or concerns about state government or issues impacting our local communities, please don't hesitate to contact my office.
427A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7908 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000