Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It has been a busy and wild week in the Legislature. Tuesday at 5 p.m. was the floor cut-off. What that means is that bills must have passed out of their house of origin by that deadline or they are considered “dead” for the year. The exception is legislation necessary to implement the budget. As of that deadline, we had debated and passed 332 bills (79 of those Republican-sponsored) in the House. I am very pleased to report that of those, three of my prime-sponsored bills passed the House and are now under review in Senate committees. I've provided more information about them below.
I also invite you to read the latest on the Columbia River Crossing project and an opinion-editorial and a letter to the Oregon Legislature I authored. See more below.
Also, Sen. Ann Rivers and I will be holding a town hall meeting on Saturday, March 1. You'll find times and locations below.
Finally, we are two-thirds of the way through of this scheduled 60-day session, which is scheduled to adjourn March 13. I am working hard to support bills that would promote new job growth and protect existing jobs, and I'm fighting against legislation that would increase your taxes and hurt working families. Your input and feedback is important as I vote on legislation that could affect our district. Feel free to contact me at any time via e-mail at: email@example.com or my Olympia office at: (360) 786-7812. Also, visit my website for the latest news and information: www.representativelizpike.com.
For those of us in the minority party, it is very difficult in a short session to get a prime-sponsored bill to pass the House. However, I had three that gained House approval and bipartisan support within the past week. They include:
- 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. This was my very first bill to pass the House of Representatives. It did so with a unanimous vote. Afterward, I was congratulated on the House floor for the passage of my first bill. This measure is now before the Senate Governmental Operations Committee and a public hearing is scheduled Feb. 27 at 10 a.m. Click here to read my news release on passage of this bill.
- 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. This measure passed the House with a vote of 81-17. It has been referred to the Senate Law and Justice Committee.
- 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 measure passed the House 83-13. It too is in the Senate Governmental Operations Committee with a public hearing scheduled Feb. 27 at 10 a.m.
Other Pike bills
While I celebrate House approval of the three bills above, there are other important bills I introduced that, unfortunately, did not move out of committee. Here's a list of some of those:
Pike's good “Pro-Jobs” bills
- House Bill 2293 is a small step in the right direction that would have provided some legislative review over state agency rulemaking that often goes too far. It would have added duties to the Joint Administrative Rules Review Committee (JARRC) to review any new agency rule when one of any of three triggers happen: At the request of at least 15 legislators; At the request of cities representing 50,000 residents; Or if there would be a $10 million statewide impact. The bill was requested by the Clark County Economic Development Council, Clark County Realtors, Greater Vancouver Chamber and Clark County Building Industry Association. I will continue working on this issue to reduce excessive and unnecessary regulations.
- House Bill 2295 is my “personal responsibility in the workplace” bill. It would have limited industrial insurance benefits for injuries caused by use of intoxicating liquor or drugs in the workplace. Too often, workers don't take responsibility for their illegal behavior. Then they expect their employers to pay for their time loss benefits, when in fact it was their intoxication or drug use in the workplace that caused the accident in the first place. This bill came from my Business Kitchen Cabinet.
- House Bill 2614 would have established a training wage for new employees who are learning on the job. The training period in which the wage is applicable is 680 hours. The amount would be 75 percent of the state's minimum wage or the federal minimum wage, whichever is higher. Read my column on this bill in The Reflector.
As the newest member of the House Local Government Committee, I have focused my efforts toward helping our six small, but great cities within the 18th District.
- House Bill 2299 would permit local governments to opt-out of prevailing wage requirements on projects valued at less than $5 million. This bill would not fix the problem of the high cost of prevailing wages, but it is a start!
- House Bill 2290 would have limited eligibility for Public Employee Retirement System benefits for seasonal employees of small cities. These municipalities across Washington often struggle to provide local services within their tight budgets. That hurdle is even greater when they are responsible for providing expensive pension benefits to seasonal workers. Seasonal workers should not have the same expectations of identical pension benefits from those who are permanent full-time, year-round employees. This bill was requested by the cities of Washougal and Camas that, like many small cities, struggle to meet budgetary needs.
- House Bill 2244 – This is a bill I supported and stood on the House floor to ask for others' support. This measure would help to restore funding to the state's Public Works Assistance Account, which provides low-interest loans for local governments so they can improve infrastructure, such as for water and sewer projects. LISTEN TO MY FLOOR SPEECH HERE.
- Read The Columbian story about my efforts to help our cities.
See all the good bills and bad bills that are dead or alive: Click here.
There are several developments to report this week on the Columbia River Crossing project. First, the Oregon Ways and Means Committee was scheduled to take up Oregon House Bill 4113 for consideration. This is a measure that would make it easier for the Oregon State Treasurer to issue bonds to pay for a “go-it-alone” Oregon replacement of the current bridges for a new crossing with light rail. I authored a letter that was signed by nine of my Southwest Washington colleagues in the Legislature urging the Oregon Ways and Means Committee to reject the bill. You can read that letter here. The Columbian did a story about the letter, which you can read here.
In today's Oregonian, the headline reads: Key Columbia River Crossing backer says he won't support Oregon-led plan in 2014 session. The story says that Sen. Bruce Starr, R-Hillsboro, will not support the bridge project without the Washington Legislature's support. He joins Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, in opposition of an Oregon-led plan.
This week, in the Portland Tribune, I provided an article which urges the two Legislatures to work together in scrapping the light-rail plan and starting from scratch with a new design. I invite you to read my article here: Press reset on Columbia River Crossing. Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt provided an opposing viewpoint. The Columbian did a story about our articles.
TAKE ACTION: Contact the members of the Oregon Joint Ways and Means Committee and ask them to REJECT HOUSE BILL 4113! Go here for the list of members.
Please join me and Sen. Ann Rivers on Saturday, March 1 for town hall meetings in Vancouver and Camas. This is an opportunity to talk personally with us and to share your viewpoints on issues that we will be voting on. Here are the times and locations:
10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
The Hampton Memory Care Facility at Salmon Creek
2305 N.E. 129th St., Vancouver
2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Camas Police Department
2100 N.E. Third, Camas
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"