Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This year's session is scheduled for 105 days. It's a longer session because our primary duty is to craft and pass a two-year state operating budget.
With the state Supreme Court holding the Legislature in contempt because it believes more needs to be done quicker to address concerns outlined in the McCleary decision (see background here), I expect education funding will be the issue that dominates the legislative session.
I will be providing this e-mail update on a weekly basis and will be including bills I've introduced, information about public hearings and how you can get involved. I encourage you to share this information with your neighbors and have them sign up for this update from my website at www.representativelizpike.com.
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve and represent you! Please contact my office any time you have a question or need assistance with a state agency. You'll find the contact information at the bottom of this e-mail update.
My bills: Out of the gate and running!
My first batch of six bills were introduced last Tuesday on the second day of the 64th Legislature. Many of these are requests from constituents and local government officials. I am honored to carry this legislation for them. I will feature more of my prime-sponsored bills in future e-newsletters.
- Senior citizen property tax relief – House Bill 1155
Description: This measure seeks to increase property tax relief for seniors and those with disabilities by allowing the income thresholds to be adjusted annually for inflation beginning in calendar year 2016.
Status: Scheduled for public hearing on Friday, Jan. 23, 8 a.m. in the House Finance Committee.
- Privatizing Washington's industrial insurance system – House Bill 1156
Description: Washington is only one of four states in the nation that has government-run industrial insurance. Other states have found the private marketplace to offer competitive rates for benefits comparable to those offered by state government. My legislation would allow private insurance providers to enter Washington's marketplace to offer competitive rates on industrial insurance in order to foster a better business climate.
Status: Referred to the House Labor Committee. No hearing scheduled yet.
- Allowing licensing subagents to keep a portion of “Quick Title fees” – House Bill 1157
Description: This measure, by request of Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey and supported by the Washington State Auditors Association, would allow licensing subagents to keep a portion of Quick Title fees when they perform the work. Subagents would keep $12.50 of the $50 fee for issuing a “Quick Title.” A Quick Title is a certificate of ownership for a vehicle or boat that a citizen can get immediately, as opposed to a standard title, which can take several weeks to arrive from the Department of Licensing in the mail. Subagents are private businesses contracted by a county auditor and appointed by the Department of Licensing to perform title and licensing services. They may collect a $12 fee for their services, but they are not allowed to retain any of the Quick Title fees. My legislation would let them be compensated for that additional work. The remaining portion of the fee would be allocated as follows: $12.50 to the county auditor and $25 to the Department of Licensing. This is not an additional cost to citizens, just a reallocation of the existing fees.
Status: Hearing held Monday, Jan. 19 in the House Transportation Committee. Further action pending.
- Creating more local control of growth planning – House Bill 1158
Description: This a growth management reform bill requested by my constituent, Carol Levanen. The bill allows by a majority vote of county commissioners, or in the case of Clark County, a majority vote of county council members, to opt out of hearings by the Growth Management (GMA) Hearings Board and instead refer those appeals to local Superior Courts. The bill would only apply to counties with fewer than 600,000 persons. The measure is in response to GMA hearings boards' decisions that consistently rule unfairly against our private land owners. These are appointed, unelected judges! My bill would allow counties to place these cases in front of accountable and elected Superior Court judges.
Status: Scheduled for public hearing on Thursday, Jan. 22, 1:30 p.m. in the House Local Government Committee.
- Safer highways through a “new-driver” decal notification – House Bill 1159
Description: This is a bill requested by Camas constituent “JP” John Brooks. He noted this program has been adopted by Canada. Driver's training vehicles have signs that say “student drivers” to notify other motorists that inexperienced drivers are sharing the roadway with them and to alert them to keep a safe distance. That's the idea behind this legislation that would require drivers 19 years and younger to display a “new driver” decal. Young drivers in Washington state are involved in a disproportional number of traffic accidents and fatalities. A new-driver decal would allow other drivers to keep a safe distance and would help to increase highway safety AND DECREASE fatalities and serious accidents among teens.
Status: Referred to the House Transportation Committee. No hearing scheduled yet.
- Reducing highway litter – House Bill 1160
Description: One of my biggest pet peeves is highway littering. My bill would reduce highway litter by increasing penalties for intentional highway littering from $50 to $200 and direct the additional fine revenue to Washington's state parks. It is the same legislation that passed out of the House with broad bipartisan support in 2014. It later passed out of Senate Environment Committee, but died in Senate before the short session ended.
Status: Hearing held earlier today in the House Environment Committee. Further action pending.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"