Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Hello from Olympia, where we are finishing up the fourth week of the 2013 legislative session.
Safer Schools Act of 2013
After four weeks of extensive research and outreach with law enforcement officials, parents and teachers from all over the state, I introduced an important bipartisan bill called the Safer Schools Act of 2013. House Bill 1788 would allow qualified school personnel to undergo training to be able to conceal carry firearms in Washington schools pursuant to an adopted school safety plan.
In many of our public places, we have an armed security presence. In many of our schools, we do not. Those who want to harm our children know they can walk into some of our schools and meet little resistance. This makes our students and teachers vulnerable. The Safe Schools Act would provide an option to school boards to improve the safety of their children while they are in school – based on the desires of their communities. It would also empower teachers and supplement local law enforcement in the event of a school shooting.
A Jobs Bill for Our Ports
I am working to keep a bill alive that would provide a much needed cash infusion to our three ports in Clark County. It's a “Sales Tax Rebate For Jobs” bill (House Bill 1553) which would allow Clark County to join with 32 other counties that receive a .09 cent sales tax rebate for economic development.
Each year, Clark County loses approximately $20 million in sales tax revenue because local shoppers cross the bridge to shop in sales-tax free Oregon. I co-sponsored this bill with Rep. Jim Moeller so that we can return approximately $5 million each year back to our ports so they can continue to bring new living-wage jobs to our fragile local economy. This bill is hanging on by a thread.
Storm water Relief Bills
As I wrote last week, I have introduced three pieces of legislation to address storm water permitting and create equal environmental protection at a reduced regulatory cost. House Bill 1237 and House Bill 1235 received a public hearing and House Bill 1234 has yet to be heard in the House Environment Committee. I am working behind the scenes along with many Clark County business leaders to reach out to Governor Inslee and Department of Ecology officials to identify amendments to move these bills out of committee. I look forward to reporting some positive news in the coming weeks.
90 Day Permitting
In addition to my storm water relief bills, I am the prime sponsor of several other pieces of Legislation. One would require all jurisdictions in Washington to either approve or deny building permits in 90 days or less. Three months is long enough, don't you think? Time is money! Clark County is a leader in our state, recently striving for 12 day building permits. The rest of the state should follow this model. I am working to arrange a meeting with Rep. Chris Hurst, chair of the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee, where this bill was referred. I spoke to him about the importance of this bill in order to help get Washington working again, and I will continue to urge that he hear the legislation in his committee.
Help for Farmers
Another is my “2013 Farm Bill” (House Bill 1722) allowing farmers to receive a sales tax exemption on the propane they purchase to heat their green houses. In a previous legislative session, this measure was approved for farmers who heat their chicken houses. It seems fair to add green houses to this exemption as well.
This week, I met with about 30 Clark County business leaders representing the WA State Farm Bureau. They are forced to compete with cheap imported produce from other parts of the world. American farmers are the backbone of a healthy food supply. Washington's AG industry represents 160,000 jobs and $46 billion and is second only to the aerospace industry. When you have a choice, buy local fresh produce and meats; and while you're at it, give your local farmer a hug. Nourish your body with the best possible fuel from Washington growers because you are worth it.
Transparency in Government
As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I also prime sponsored a “72 Hour Budget Transparency Bill” (House Bill 1721). This would require 72 hours notice to Representatives and Senators before any budget bill may come up for a vote. How can we sign something so important as a state budget without close inspection? Seventy-two hours will give us the necessary time to digest this important piece of legislation and allow all members of the House to make an informed decision.
I will keep you posted on all these initiatives as they move through the process.
Please pass this e-newsletter onto your friends and neighbors so that they may subscribe to receive regular updates from me.
It's an honor to serve and I look forward to hearing from you soon. God bless you and your family.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"