Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As most of you know, the 2014 legislative session ended last month on March 13 and it is very good to be home. I enjoy catching up with the citizens of the 18th District and renewing my work in the family business. Below is a brief overview of the session, details on how to contact me and other legislative updates. As always, if you would like to meet with me or have me give a legislative update at a local event, please contact my office.
The 2014 Session Budget Recap
The legislature was able to pass a balanced budget which did not raise taxes and left a responsible ending balance. The majority party in the House of Representatives pushed for many tax increases which would have negatively impacted our communities including new or increased taxes on: bottled water, recycled fuel, prescription drugs, e-cigarettes and an attempt to repeal an out-of-state sales tax exemption. These tax increase proposals would have a devastating impact on families and businesses in our district. However, I am pleased that we were able to defeat these proposals. A few highlights of the supplemental operating budget are
- An additional $58 million for schools for materials, supplies and operating costs, or MSOC;
- Tuition freeze for higher education plus additional dollars for the Opportunity Scholarship Program were added;
- Additional funds to help address space and treatment for those suffering from mental illness, helping some of the most vulnerable citizens;
- We left roughly $300 million in reserves, not counting the secured “rainy day” account.
Certainly, this budget was not perfect, but is another step in the right direction and will help rebuild trust with taxpayers.
My bill to help the timber industry
This week, legislation which I sponsored that streamlines the tax reporting process for timberland owners of all sizes was signed by the governor. House Bill 2099, provides timberland owners predictability and makes it easier for them to do their own accounting. This was my first bill to make it through the process legislative process and I am happy that it will help land owners of all sizes to be successful.
As you can see from the picture to the left, my wife Darci and my daughter Makena were able to attend the bill signing with me. It was wonderful to have my family there for this proud moment.
New committee appointments
The House Appropriations Committee considers the operating budget bill, global fiscal issues such as pension policy and compensation, and bills with larger fiscal impacts. The committee also coordinates the budget development work of the Appropriations Subcommittees.
While, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education makes funding recommendations for early learning, K-12, and higher education, and also considers bills relating to education with limited fiscal impact.
I am currently the only member in the House of Representatives serving on six committees. This is a great honor and responsibility. I look forward to serving my community and hearing the outstanding ideas from constituents.
Contact me during the interim
Please feel free to visit my Camas District Office. Office Hours will be from 7 A.M. to 6 P.M., Monday through Thursday. I am your legislator year-round and I value your input and requests. The office is located at: 532 N.E. 3rd Avenue, Suite 104, Camas, WA 98607. You can also call my local office at (360) 210-7070.
My door is always open and I appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve as your state representative.