There have been more than 1,100 bills introduced in the state House of Representatives this session.
Last week was policy committee cutoff, meaning if the bill has not been voted out of its respective policy committee by the cutoff date the bill is usually deemed “dead” for the session. There are certain extenuating circumstances in which a bill can be revived.
Today, (Friday, Feb. 24) is the fiscal committee cutoff. It is a little more difficult to deem fiscal bills “dead” if they don't make it out before the cutoff, because of their fiscal implications. They could end up being considered part of the budget or “NTIB” – necessary to implement the budget. However, that has not prevented us from working marathon sessions in the House Appropriations Committee. We have plenty of bills and they are all tied to an agency, an organization or a group wanting an increase in funding. The requests add up to far more than is available in existing revenue. I am pleased to be in a position to be an advocate for the financial well-being of the taxpayer as we move toward a budget plan. Restricting state spending to those things that are the appropriate role of government remains a top priority for me and my caucus!
McCleary plan brought to the House floor
We had our first opportunity to vote on an education funding plan to address the state Supreme Court McCleary order as House Democrats brought their proposal to the floor for debate on Wednesday. However, their education funding plan lacks any sort of funding. Their plan would cost $11 billion over the next four years.
House Democrats have proposed creating or raising a number of taxes, but have not disclosed which ones they intend to implement to fund their education plan. Click proposed House Democrat taxes to review their list of proposed taxes to date. I do not believe they have the votes to pass any of the taxes mentioned, as most have been proposed before and have either failed to pass in the Legislature or voters have voted them down at the ballot box.
I would add their plan does not sufficiently address the McCleary issue and our state's regressive levy system. We could be right back where we started in a few years.
The plan, House Bill 1843, passed on a 50-47 party-line vote. House Republicans offered seven amendments that would have provided some meaningful reforms and protections from future lawsuits. Only one was accepted.
As we move forward and enter the negotiation phase, House Republicans will continue to provide input to ensure we have accountability and equality in a final McCleary plan.
As the ranking Republican on the Business and Financial Services Committee my focus continues to be on business and finance related legislation this session. I have sponsored or co-sponsored a number of bills moving through the legislative process. Here is a brief overview:House Bill 1593: When speaking with our small business owners, I continue to hear about how difficult it can be to gain access to capital. Allowing crowdfunding as another option to raise that capital is a creative way to help address this problem. The practice of crowdfunding is simply funding a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people. This bill expands the crowdfunding legislation we passed a few years ago by creating more options and should improve start-up businesses access to capital, ultimately increasing employment in Washington and drawing more businesses here. As an added benefit, this legislation will also allow the average Washingtonian another way to build wealth through investment in equity shares of a business. The bill passed the House Monday by a vote of 95-2.
I am also co-sponsor of a bill, House Bill 1045, that passed the House of Representatives earlier this week by a vote of 91-7. Some of you may have heard of “bitcoin.” This law updates licensing and enforcement provisions of money transmitters and currency exchanges to make sure we are keeping up with technology and currency laws.
The policy behind my “Right to Try” legislation that would allow terminally ill patients access to experimental treatments and investigational medical products is moving forward as Senate Bill 5035. For me, the policy is much more important than who winds up getting the credit. I will continue to work hard to make sure terminally ill patients have every opportunity to try and save their own lives.
Session is filled with a lot of late nights, long meetings and complex legislation. Sometimes to move away from the more serious side of our jobs, we will draft resolutions to honor deserving citizens, groups, organizations or in this case state championship teams from our legislative district.
I had two resolutions drafted this session. The first one, House Joint Resolution (HJR) 4607, to honor the Camas football team who won the 4A Championship this fall. Then a second one to honor the Camas girls soccer team, who also won the 4A Championship earlier this year – House Joint Resolution 4608. Congratulations to both teams and go Papermakers! It was my privilege to draft a resolution to honor your accomplishments.