Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Today is day 30, the halfway point of the scheduled 60-day session and the first major committee deadlines have arrived. By the end of today, all bills must have passed from the committees in their respective house of origin or they are considered “dead.” Bills necessary to implement the budget are exempt from the deadlines. These deadlines are necessary to keep the Legislature on track to complete its business within the allotted 60 days. Following these deadlines, much of our work will transition from the committees to the House floor. We will have until Feb. 18 to pass out any committee-approved House bills. You can see the entire session cutoff calendar here. Also, you can read our list of “Dead and Alive Bills” here.
Please read on for an update of my bills, some exciting news about one of our local teachers, and our really BAD bill of the week.
As always, please feel free to contact my office any time you have questions, comments or suggestions about legislation and state government. Finally, thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve and represent you!
Local teacher named finalist for Washington's 2014 Civic Educator of the Year Award
I have received great news that I would like to share. James Hendrickson, a teacher at Tukes Valley Middle School in Battle Ground, has been named a finalist for Washington's 2014 Civic Educator of the Year Award. As a part of the Legislature's annual Civic Education Day, the award is presented to outstanding civic educators from around the state.
I had the opportunity last fall to spend the day in Mr. “Hendy's” 8th grade classroom. He is one of the most amazing teachers I have met. He inspires his students by garnering their utmost respect. It is as if they are holding their collective breath so they don't miss a single word spoken by this inspiring professional. I am fortunate that he also agreed to serve as a member of my Education Kitchen Cabinet.
James will be honored along with the other finalists and award recipients at a luncheon ceremony on Feb. 17 at the state Capitol in Olympia. We are fortunate to have such wonderful and dedicated teachers in our classrooms!
I'm very pleased to report that four of my prime-sponsored bills have passed their respective committees and are now awaiting a vote on the House floor. They include:
- House Bill 2294 would increase highway littering penalties from $50 to $125 by changing littering from a Class 3 infraction to a Class 2 infraction.
- House Bill 2296 would address duplicate signatures on petitions in cities, towns and code cities. This measure would clean up an unconstitutional component of local petition signature rules and put it in line with state law. Under this bill, all duplicate signatures would be counted once.
- House Bill 2297 would change public facilities to include roadway, traffic and way-finding signage. This request legislation by our Cowlitz County Commissioners would assist our distressed counties by improving roadway signage, and thus increasing economic vitality to tourism areas.
- House Bill 2298 would change the definition of capital projects to include technology infrastructure. This would allows cities and counties to use capital project money to pay for necessary security and technology attributes in their new police and fire stations. This bipartisan bill is also at the request of Cowlitz County Commissioners.
Training wage bill gets media attention
Last week, after the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee held a public hearing on my training wage measure, House Bill 2614, The Columbian wrote an editorial saying the bill “needs refinements to be more workable.” I introduced this measure to help our youth get a foot in the door for job opportunities and to help them obtain skills to move up the career ladder. Although the bill did not specifically state an age limit for the training wage, I was very clear in my committee testimony that I was open to make changes in the bill that would accomplish these goals.
I have since authored a response to The Columbian explaining the bill and why it would be helpful for young people trying to enter the workforce. You can read that response here.
I've tried to call most of the less-than desirable bills “not-so-good bills.” However, this week there is no other way to put it — House Bill 2148, the abortion mandate measure – is a REALLY BAD BILL! This measure would require all health insurance companies in Washington to provide coverage for abortions. If approved, Washington would be the first state in the nation with this abortion mandate.
During floor debate, I stood to say I am a “conscientious objector” of this bill and talked of how my mother brought me to Olympia in 1973 to join one of the largest protests at the state Capitol when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortions. As the mother of twins, I am offended that this legislation would force me to purchase health insurance in Washington from an insurer who provides money to pay for abortions. This legislation is anti-choice because it would take away the right of women to choose whether or not they want this type of coverage. It is an attack on religious liberty and freedom of conscience. Any bill that would pay for the destruction of human life is a really bad bill.
Unfortunately, this measure passed the House last Wednesday, 54-44. It is my hope it can be stopped in the Senate.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"