Dear Friends and Neighbors,
On April 29, legislators were called back to Olympia to start a 30-day special session to complete the unfinished work of negotiating and passing a two-year state operating budget for the 2015-17 fiscal cycle. Yesterday, we voted on a handful of bills and then were dismissed for the rest of the week. This may also continue into next week, as we enter into what is commonly known as a “rolling special session.” The term has its origins in the idea that we are not really doing official business. Instead, we simply “roll” from one floor session to another, without most members even being present on the floor, until we are ready to take necessary budget votes. It is my hope that even though most of us have returned to our districts, the lead budget writers will continue to hammer out a spending plan that meets our constitutional obligations, while holding the line against any new taxes.
Over this 103-day session, I've received thousands of emails from constituents about the budget process. Nearly all of them have urged me not to raise taxes. Citizens are growing wearing of their state government's insatiable appetite to spend yet more of their hard-earned tax dollars. I hear my constituents and I'm listening. That's why I support Sen. Andy Hill's proposed budget, because it does not rely on any new taxes or any tax increases. It is my hope that the majority party in the House will see the error of their ways in proposing $1.5 billion in new taxes in order to balance their proposed budget. Remember, we already have a record increase of $3 billion in additional revenues coming into the state without tax increases. There is plenty of money to balance the state budget as long as we prioritize needs.
As always, you can count on me to fight against any new tax increases as we wrap up the budget, (hopefully) over the next 30 days. Be assured, I will keep you updated on the budget process over the coming weeks.
Please read on for other issues as we close the regular session and begin this special session.
Call my office if you have questions. Or you can email me at email@example.com.
Rep. Pike supports oil-by-rail transportation safety bill
Last week, I voted yes to pass House Bill 1449, a measure to improve the safety of oil transportation amid a sharp increase in the number of oil-carrying freight trains in our state. In the 18th District, a major Burlington Northern-Santa Fe rail line dissects the cities of Washougal, Camas, Vancouver and Ridgefield. I share the concerns of citizens living near these rail lines and want to ensure the Legislature is doing all it can to protect the safety in our rail communities.
HB 1449 has been a work in progress throughout the entire session. As a member of the House Environment Committee, I voted on several versions of this bill. I was pleased to support a final compromise version that contained the best of both the Senate and House versions.
The compromise includes some provisions that Gov. Jay Inslee and House Democrats had pushed for, including requiring railroads to show they can pay to clean up oil spills. HB 1449 also would extend the barrel tax currently placed on boat-transported oil to now include railroads. Funds from the 4-cent barrel tax would help pay for oil spill response plans near rail lines. The original bill called for doubling the barrel tax, which negotiators agreed was not necessary to implement the program. The final bill, which passed the House 95-1 and the Senate unanimously, now heads to the governor for consideration.
Rep. Pike creates teen-driving safety task force
As you know, I'm concerned about the disproportionate number of fatalities and serious injury accidents involving young drivers on Clark County roads and highways. Earlier this session, I introduced a bill to address this serious issue. House Bill 1159 passed the House and was amended to a Clark County-only pilot project, but died upon arrival in the Senate Transportation Committee.
This bill was not without controversy. Some parents were concerned that a “New Driver” emblem on a car driven by teens would somehow make their child a target. Others questioned whether the emblems would have the desired effect to reduce the number of accidents involving young drivers. These are valid concerns.
While the bill did not advance during our regular session, the problem did not go away and I am still looking for solutions to save young lives on our roadways. For this reason, I am bringing together a stakeholder group of teen drivers, law enforcement, professional driver's education instructors and other interested persons in our community who want to be part of a solution to reduce the trend of teen-driving accidents. The goal of this stakeholder group is to identify solutions that will work!
The first task force meeting will be held on Thursday, May 21 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Community Room at the Camas Police Department, 2100 NE 3rd Avenue, Camas, WA 98607. The public is invited to observe the panel discussion.
Shelly Baldwin, Legislative and Media Relations Manager with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, along with her staff, will provide a brief overview of current efforts underway at the state level to address factors in teen-driver-involved crashes and what research shows are effective strategies for reducing these events.
For more information about our Teen Driving Safety Task Force meeting, please contact my office at (360) 786-7812 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
District office is now open!
Now that our regular session is over, my legislative office has transitioned to a new district office on the second floor of the Clara Street Block Building, 307 NE Birch Street, Suite 206, in the historic downtown Camas business district. My legislative assistant, Garrett Delano, and I welcome visitors to stop by during regular business hours Monday through Wednesday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and on Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.. The office will also be open on Fridays by special appointment. During the special session and even after we pass a final budget, my work for you does not end. My office is up and running 52 weeks a year to serve the citizens in the 18th Legislative District.
Join us at our new district office open house, Friday, June 5
I invite constituents to attend my district office open house on Friday, June 5 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., 307 NE Birch Street, Suite 206 in downtown Camas. Refreshments will be served. Come by to say hello and share your thoughts about any legislative matters.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"