Dear Friends and Neighbors,
In light of the first series of legislative cutoffs, which you can learn more about here, here's a quick update on my legislation that made it past the first two cutoffs of the session:
HB 1308, addressing surplus lines of insurance — passed the House March 2.
HB 1309, permitting real estate brokers to sell floating homes — awaiting consideration on the House floor.
HB 1659, addressing the benefits of group life and disability insurance policies — awaiting consideration on the House floor.
HB 1884, expanding the definition of an electric personal assistive mobility device to include a one-wheeled self-balancing device — awaiting consideration on the House floor.
The next major deadline is March 11, house of origin cutoff. This means all House bills must pass out of the House, and all Senate bills must pass out of the Senate, to continue in the legislative process this session. So far this week, the House has been busy moving legislation off the floor and over to the Senate. This week we expect to work some late nights as we move legislation off the floor.
Children's Day at the Capitol
Feb. 16 was Children's Day at the Capitol, and my wife, Darci, and daughter, Makena, joined me in Olympia for the festivities. It was great having them with me at the Capitol for that special day.
February revenue forecast
The state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released the latest revenue forecast last week. Revenues for the 2015-17 biennium increased by $129 million, on top of the $3 billion additional revenue the state will see from the last budget. This is great news and means our state's economy is steadily recovering. The Legislature has several major budgetary obligations it must meet this session and these added dollars will be helpful as lawmakers ramp up budget negotiations in the coming weeks. I'll be sure to keep you posted on major budget developments as session progresses.
Results from my telephone town hall
I had great participation in my telephone town hall Feb. 19. At one point, we had almost 1,000 people on the call. I asked a few survey questions during the event, and here are the results:
1. There's a bill before the House to increase the state minimum wage to $12 an hour over the next four years. Do you think the Legislature should raise the state minimum wage?
64.1 percent “No”
29.7 percent “Yes”
6.3 percent “Not sure”
2. What issue is most important for the Legislature to address in 2015?
31.8 percent “Alleviating regulatory burdens on employers”
27.3 percent “K-12 education”
23.9 percent “Other”
17.0 percent “Transportation funding and reforms”
3. Do you support general state tax increases knowing the state's general fund is expected to grow by $3 billion?
83.1 percent “No”
9.9 percent “Yes”
7.0 percent “Not sure”
Thank you to all who participated Thursday. If you didn't get a chance to join us, you can answer the above survey questions here.
Pleasant Valley Middle School student Ethan McClintock served as my page last week. Pages apply each year to participate in a legislative page program where they spend one week in Olympia during the session and help lawmakers deliver important documents and messages on the Capitol campus. Students also spend the week attending page school, learning the inner workings of state government and assisting legislators on the House floor.
I hope Ethan enjoyed his time in Olympia, and learned more about the legislative process and how he can stay involved. For more information about the page program, click here.
In addition to these e-newsletters, I also tape periodic email updates to keep folks back home informed on developments during the legislative session. You can view these updates by visiting my YouTube channel here. Click here for my latest video update.
Visitors from the 18th District
I've met with many constituents the past few weeks and I wanted to thank them all for visiting with me in Olympia. I appreciate them keeping me informed on the successes of our communities, and the challenges they are facing. Here are some of the groups I've met with recently:
- Alzheimer's Association
- City officials from Vancouver, Battle Ground, Camas, Washougal and Ridgefield
- Cowlitz County leaders
- WSU Vancouver students and faculty
- Clark County 4-H students
- Clark County Dental Society
- Washington Academy of Family Physicians
- Camas Christian Academy
- YMCA Sexual Assault Division
- Strong Teens Against Substance Hazards and Abuse
For some, missing work and driving to Olympia during the legislative session isn't an option. Luckily, the Legislature provides several ways to stay connected during session. If you have questions or concerns about any bill moving through the process, please contact me. Many have called, or have written emails and letters so far this session regarding some of the issues facing our state. I look forward to hearing from you!
It's an honor serving you.