Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are down to the final weeks of the 2013 legislative session which is scheduled to conclude on April 28. Our final committee cutoff was today, April 9. Now it is time for the Legislature to focus on the three major budgets (transportation, capital and general operating). We will resume voting on the House floor this week and I anticipate we will work late into the evening on several occasions. At this stage, bills which have not changed from their Senate versions, and are voted off the House floor, go directly to the governor for his signature or veto. So, this set of votes is very important.
Recently, the governor released what has been called a “budget outline.” This outline included $1.2 billion in tax increases. Six months ago, Gov. Inslee promised to not increase taxes by saying he “would veto anything that heads the wrong direction and the wrong direction is new taxes in the state of Washington.” Making this kind of promise and then breaking it within the first 90 days of his service betrays the people's trust.
The governor has said these are not officially new taxes because they just extend temporary taxes or end exemptions. For example, certain temporary Business and Occupation taxes on service businesses would continue. This means higher taxes for barbers, dentists, janitors, music teachers, school bus operators, architects, veterinarians and more.
The irresponsible proposal from Gov. Inslee offers the public a false choice between tax increases and funding for schools. However, the House Republican's fund education first proposal offers real management of education funds and allocates over $500 million more towards education without raising taxes. For the governor to reverse course on his promise and endanger this fragile economic recovery is inexcusable. Struggling business and families deserve better and I will work hard to create a business friendly environment in Washington. Placing a greater tax burden on a very fragile and slow economic recovery and hardworking families is not the answer.
Additionally, the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus released its operating budget and a transportation budget April 3. Their proposal is a great example of what a budget could look like that does not rely on tax increases. And, the budget passed the Senate 30-18, with nine Democrat votes. I hope the bipartisan work in the Senate will carry over in the House. The Legislature can, and should, finish on time this legislative session. If House Republicans had an additional ten votes, and we could make it happen.
I'm proud to announce that I was chosen to serve on the Legislative Ethics Board. This is a high honor for a freshmen legislator. The board administers the State Ethics Act which says, “ethics in government are the foundation on which the structure of government rests.” When informing me of the appointment, House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt said he hoped that I would help foster and renew an environment of trust in our state government. I am honored to be appointed as one of the nine members of the Legislative Ethics Board and it's an assignment that I take seriously.
In Washington state, the Public Disclosure Commission focuses on campaign reporting while the Ethics Board ensures standards are met in the performance of duties. It is the job of the board to investigate alleged violations where offices, personnel, titles, or resources have been used for personal gain or influence, conflict of interest or campaigning. The board holds monthly meetings to investigate complaints and issue advisory opinions.
I was pleased to take part in the Easter Egg Hunt for Acceptance of All Abilities held at Evergreen High School (picture top right). More than 800 kids, 75 percent of whom live with some sort of disability, came to the event. It was great to see all their faces light up as they found the eggs. It was also amazing to see the outpouring of support from our community for this event. You can learn more about the event in this article from The Columbian.
It was fun to participate in the legislative shootout on April 4. During a legislative session full of controversial gun control legislation, this event was an attempt to show the sportsman side of guns and demystify them for the inexperienced. The tournament was an annual event until 2000 when participation faded; this year's competition was the first in nearly a decade. You can see from the picture (bottom right) that I took the opportunity to fire a couple rounds myself. At least 30 other legislators showed up as well.
When the legislative session comes to an end I will be opening an office in the 18th District. I encourage you to stop by and meet my Legislative Assistant, Peter Gilmour and speak with me. It is our goal to be a resource for you and hear about your concerns, issues and ideas. The legislative session may be coming to a close but my door is always open – I'm not just your legislator during the session, but year-round. Our new office will be located at: 532 N.E. 3rd Avenue, Suite 104, Camas, WA 98607.
If there is any part of state government that I can help you with please contact me.