Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we enter the final week of committee hearings on proposed legislation introduced by House members, I'm pleased that nine of my bills have been scheduled for public hearings prior to the Feb. 5 cut-off. As a member of a minority caucus, working these bills to get a public hearing is no small task.
GMA reform bills get A-OK for public hearings
Constituents frequently complain to me about the slow erosion of their private property rights. The 18th Legislative District includes thousands of rural landowners from rural Ridgefield to unincorporated Camas. Up-zoning in comprehensive land use plans, critical area ordinances, storm water rules, wetland setbacks and stream buffers have combined to strip away rights of our property owners to use their own land. I just learned in the House Environment Committee that landowners are required to get a permit from a government agency in order to clean out the ditch adjoining their own property. Unbelievable!
There's a great amount of frustration over the outdated and flawed Growth Management Act (GMA). The “one-size-fits-all” model is not working. I'm pleased that two of my three GMA reform bills are scheduled to be heard next week in the House Local Government Committee.
Here's a look at them:
- House Bill 2468 would enhance rural economic development on rail-dependent parcels adjacent to rail lines.The measure would improve freight mobility by designating “freight rail dependent uses” as an important tool for counties and cities in planning under GMA. Moving freight on short-line railroads saves on highway maintenance, improves safety for non-freight drivers and reduces carbon emissions. This would also attract jobs to the local area.
- House Bill 2420 would encourage sustainable agricultural production and rural development by adding flexibility in lot sizes under GMA. This bill aims to promote healthier communities by encouraging the sale of farm fresh products, clearing the way for agricultural activities to occur on small parcels of land. The bill states that the Growth Management Act shall not restrict existence of small parcels for agricultural activities.
House Bills 2420 and 2468 are scheduled for a public hearing Tuesday, Feb. 2, 10 a.m., in the Local Government Committee.
- House Bill 2418 would modify the appointment process of the Growth Hearings Board by allowing the county legislative authorities to jointly appoint two members from their respective GMA region with the governor appointing one member. Within each geographic area, a minimum of at least one appointee must have extensive experience in matters pertaining to land use and at a minimum, one of the two members must be admitted to practice law in the state. This bill would improve the board's credibility by addressing concerns about decisions infringing on constitutional protections, improving accountability and raising the qualifications of its members.
Driver safety bills seek to reduce accidents
I appreciate the correspondence related to my bills to save lives of young drivers by improving driving instructional programs. While we cannot legislate good judgment, maturity or common sense, we can debate the merit of ideas that would reduce the number of fatal and serious injury accidents of drivers ages 16 to 25.
One of my colleagues declared that he is an excellent driving instructor for his three teen daughters and there's nothing more the Legislature could do to improve skills of young drivers. Sadly, not all children are lucky enough to have a parent like him. Some children have to endure 15 or more years of observing bad driving habits and attitudinal deficiencies demonstrated by parents, aunts and uncles, and then somehow overcome that with six months of training and a short practical driving test.
I'm interested in this issue because even one premature death is too many. I'm thankful to the House Transportation Chair who agreed to hear these bills in committee. If nothing else, these measures have elevated the discussion about possible solutions to save more young lives on our roadways.
All four of these new driver safety measures, House Bill 2417, House Bill 2626, House Bill 2627 and House Bill 2628 are getting hearings in the House Transportation and House Judiciary committees. I'll keep you posted as the session progresses.
Common sense day care 'rules fix' advances
I'm happy to report House Bill 2511 has passed out of the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee today on a unanimous vote. This bill would undo a costly rule by the Department of Early Learning requiring separate pre-school teachers for five-year-olds/kindergarteners in school from other five-year-olds/kindergarteners not yet enrolled in school. This agency rule has effectively doubled the cost of day care, hurting our poorest working families. Now the bill heads to the House floor for consideration. I'm glad this issue was brought to my attention by a licensed day care center that has been serving Battle Ground families for more than three decades.
You can watch my testimony during the public hearing here.
I work for you!
I am reminded every day of how far we've fallen from Article 1, Section 1 in our Washington State Constitution: “All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.”
More and more, non-elected agency bureaucrats, who are not accountable to the citizens in any way, continue to write more rules every day; whether it be an assault on our Second Amendment rights, our private property rights, or actions to silence those who may disagree. It's time for citizens across Washington to wake up, stand up and be heard.
When I was visiting with talk show host Lars Larson last Friday, I told him if things continue on the current path, one day in the future, we will wake up without many of our constitutional freedoms and rights. It won't be one giant rule or new law, but rather a slow degradation over a long period of time, from one bill and agency after another. Our liberty and freedom will ultimately die by a thousands cuts.
As your state representative, my commitment is to the citizens of my district. I've taken on tough issues, spoken out against harmful and onerous regulations that hurt our job creators, and have opposed tax increases because they hurt our working families. I will not rest until we can turn this state around in a new direction of growth, opportunity and prosperity for all citizens!
As always, feel free to contact my office with any concerns or ideas. Thank you for allowing me to represent you in our state Capitol. It's an honor to serve.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"