Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Welcome to my first update of the 2013 legislative session, and hello from Olympia!
My first week
Last week was an exciting and busy first week of session. It was filled with lots of pomp and circumstance beginning with my official swearing in ceremony on Monday, farewell speeches from statewide officials leaving office on Tuesday, and attending Governor Inslee's inaugural address on Wednesday.
Legislation for the 18th District: “Rainy Day Jobs Bills”
Now in my second full week of the 2013 session, I've jumped in with both feet. While it would be real easy to get bogged down with the workload of four committees, I have remained focused on the priorities that sent me here in the first place. Those priorities include regulatory reform to get Washington working again. Every day, the first thing I think about is what I can do to help the 20,000 people in Clark County who are out of work.
Before the session began, I met with Clark County Commissioners, and city and business leaders across my district to identify ways to decrease regulation to encourage private sector job growth. When we examined the existing storm water permitting process and costs, it was obvious the default storm water permits are burdensome and expensive.
City and county governments have no choice but to pass on the cost to job creators in our communities. It's no wonder we are losing opportunities to have companies locate in the 18th District when business owners can go into Oregon and avoid paying these high regulatory costs. Last week, I introduced three pieces of legislation to help solve this problem:
- House Bill 1237 would create a storm water compliance pilot project which would allow counties to issue alternative compliance plans as long as the alternative satisfies the water quality requirements of the state and federal clean water act.
- House Bill 1235 would prioritize state funding in storm water control to projects required by the municipal storm water permits. Currently state funding is allocated to projects not mandated by the permits, leaving the entire regulatory cost burden on the municipalities.
- House Bill 1234 would delay the new storm water requirements in order to give multiple jurisdictions time to complete the judicial review of existing permits.
I'm excited to report to you that two of my “Rainy Day Jobs Bills” (HB 1237 and 1235) will receive a public hearing in the House Environment Committee on Wednesday, January 30 at 1:30pm on the first floor of the John L. O'Brien building at the Capitol Campus. Getting a hearing is the first step in the gauntlet of bill passage. If you are able I hope you will travel to Olympia to testify in favor of the legislation to help our unemployed 18th District citizens get working again.
House Republican rules changes
On February 1, I will join House Republicans in an attempt to change the rules the House of Representatives follows. The four proposed changes are based on what statewide voters told us loud and clear in recent elections. I'm ready for a vigorous floor debate on what I believe is good government; for the people and by the people.
The four proposed changes would:
* Prioritize education first
* Prioritize citizen testimony in committees
* Allow each house member to have one bill heard in a committee
* Place a supermajority requirement vote for all tax increases directly into House rules. The Democrats are currently challenging this requirement in court, and by placing it in rules it will be protected.
In our last election, Initiative 1185 which requires a two thirds vote in order to raise taxes, passed by a statewide margin of nearly 64%. It is hard for me to understand why any Washington legislator in their right mind would ignore the wishes of this overwhelming majority of voters.
This rule change is especially important to me as the constant threat of new tax increases causes uncertainty to employers and consumers, which harms our fragile rural economies. There's a reason why voters want a higher threshold to raise taxes: our citizens can't afford to send any more money to Olympia. I plan to report back on the result of this action in a later e-mail update.
Protecting plat investments
I am sponsoring legislation which would protect citizen's investments they have made in land plats. A plat is an approximate drawing of a proposed sub-divided piece of land which serves as the basis for approval or disapproval for the planned subdivision. Plats are very expensive to obtain, and up until last year were only good for five years. Since the recession people have been wary to build on these sub-divisions, and thus were in danger of losing their investment in the plat.
House Bill 1074 would increase the plat approval submission timeline to ten years until 2017. Hopefully by then, an improved economy will allow our folks to move forward with building on their lots to provide much needed jobs for Washington citizens.
Please contact my office with any questions or concerns. Thank you for placing your faith in me.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"