Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Please join your 7th Legislative District Team for our telephone town hall this week! On Wednesday, Feb. 3 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. you can ask questions, participate in our survey or just listen in while Rep. Joel Kretz, Sen. Brian Dansel and I discuss the 2016 legislative session. Just call (509) 724-2970 and you will automatically be connected with our call. I hope you can join us.
Human Rights Commission says men can use women's bathrooms?
Judging from the many phone calls and e-mails I've received on this issue, many of you are already aware the Washington State Human Rights Commission (unelected bureaucrats mostly from the Puget Sound area) recently ruled that members of the transgender community could use whatever bathroom or locker room they “identified” with. As you might imagine, there has been an uproar back home and state-wide to the extent that I have not seen before.
Frankly, this decision came very fast and was a complete surprise, mainly because the process required for a state agency to adopt rules was either ignored outright or “bent” just enough to skate in under the radar. Check out this committee hearing where the head of the commission was asked about the process by my House Republican colleagues. It was a very poor showing by the agency official and just proves these types of decisions belong in the Legislature where thorough, deliberative and transparent discussions INVOLVING THE PUBLIC can take place. I have heard from others who say that it was done to stem discrimination and protect transgender individuals. But that does not allow a state agency to hide its rule-making process from the public simply because of the sensitive or controversial nature of an issue. I believe their actions have actually hurt the very individuals they purport to protect.
I also have concerns – as do many of you – about the potential for abuse these new rules create. I have signed onto legislation repealing this rule, however, the Democrat chair of the House Judiciary Committee has said she will not hear any legislation dealing with this issue. So much for thoughtful, deliberate debate and letting the public voice their opinions. Stay tuned.
Raising taxes should be the last resort, not the first option
Six times in the past 22 years voters have approved initiatives calling for a two-thirds legislative vote before taxes could be raised. It's time for a constitutional amendment. This week, I joined my House Republican colleagues in a procedural motion on the House floor to immediately consider legislation to do just that.
House Joint Resolution 4215, which I've cosponsored, would have sent to voters a constitutional amendment that would require a two-thirds majority vote of the Legislature to raise taxes. This procedural motion would have bypassed the committee process and leave HJR 4215 eligible for an immediate vote of approval on the House floor. The public has told us six times in the last 22 years what they want! Do we really need to have taxpayers travel to Olympia to tell us one more time? It's time for legislators to do what's right and listen to the voters. However, our efforts were defeated by the majority party on a strict party-line vote of 49-48. We'll see if this bill even gets a hearing in committee – but don't hold your breath.
My role in leadership as Caucus Chair
I had the pleasure of speaking to Greater Spokane Incorporated this weeks, as well as members of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Part of my job on the leadership team as House Republican Caucus Chair is to present our vision and ideas to large groups, associations, stakeholders and other visitors to the state Capitol. While I enjoy this aspect of my job, the hopes, dreams, expectations, character and way of life of my neighbors in Northeast Washington are always with me. I'm continually using many of you as examples in stories about hardworking people who want state government to live within its means and be accountable to the people.
Last week I had the privilege of hosting Bethany Loos from Deer Park as a House page. Bethany is the daughter of Elaine and Brett Loos and is home schooled. I so enjoyed spending time with Bethany – her knowledge of issues impressive!
This week it was Emma Larsen from Chewelah. Emma is the daughter of Lori and Paul Larsen and attends Jenkins Junior Senior High School. Her sister, Rachael, was also able to page this week with my seatmate, Rep. Joel Kretz.
It was so nice to spend time with folks from back home. I know the girls learned a lot and trust this experience will help them in their future endeavors. We certainly had some laughs this week!
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