Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Two Pike bills pass from the House with bipartisan support
Two of my bills passed from the House of Representatives this past Wednesday with bipartisan support, including House Bill 2417, which modifies drivers license requirements. State law now requires driver education students to perform 50 hours of driving under the supervision of a driver at least 21 years of age, including 10 hours of night driving. Unfortunately, there is no official process to verify compliance. This bill simply requires an examiner to verify the driver's log book to ensure the 50 hours. It is my hope this extra step would create more highly-skilled new drivers. This bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
If you have read my recent legislative newsletters, you know I've been working hard on several measures to strengthen our drivers' education program here in Washington. The objective is to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injury accidents on our roadways among young drivers. In Clark County's recent statistics, young drivers age 16-25 comprise 11 percent of the driving population. Yet they are involved in 35 percent of fatal accidents and 45 percent of serious injury accidents.
Last summer and fall, I convened a task force in my district with professional driving school owners, instructors, local residents, young drivers, local law enforcement officials, and representatives from the Washington Department of Licensing and the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. Even with this diverse group, we came to broad consensus on how to strengthen our new driver training and education programs, which became the basis of four bills I proposed this session.
Another of my good government reform bills, House Bill 2511 also passed unanimously from the House floor on Wednesday. I introduced this measure in response to a Department of Early Learning agency rule which forced day care centers to provide additional staff (and classrooms) to separate five-year-olds and/or kindergartners into two different classes.
I'm grateful to a Battle Ground licensed day care facility for bringing this to my attention. This agency rule dramatically increased the cost of child care without any proven benefit. The intent of my bill is to undo this unnecessary agency rule and to streamline the delivery of services to children, while continuing to protect their safety and well being. The high cost of child care places a heavy financial burden on Washington's poorest families. This bill would help lower those costs on our working families.
I hope other businesses in the 18th District contact me when a state agency goes rogue to pass unnecessary rules that hurt Washington businesses. House Bill 2511 now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
Some legislators not ready for prime-time transportation solutions
Legislative sessions tend to have their high points and low points. Getting a good government reform bill signed into law is definitely a high point. A low point this session was the failure to see more progress on a transportation solution for Southwest Washington.
A measure that I've worked very hard on for the past couple of years is House Bill 2414. It would set up a Bi-state Bridge Legislative Work Group to create basic oversight on affordable projects that would improve freight mobility and provide congestion relief in corridors between Portland and Southwest Washington.
Under the measure, the work group would consist of eight Washington and eight Oregon legislators, with an equal number of bicameral and and bipartisan members who represent districts in the same region as the project, and with a preference for members who serve on their respective transportation committees. Members of the work group would be appointed by respective caucus leaders and report to the Legislature as soon as December 2017.
I worked diligently to get this bill passed from the House Transportation Committee with a unanimous vote, only to watch it die in the House Rules Committee this week. I'm told there are too many state legislators not yet ready to move beyond the Columbia River Crossing to look for an affordable solution our citizens can support.
Commuters and business and community leaders expect us to lead. They expect us to do the hard work and seek common ground to find solutions. I'm disappointed legislators wouldn't come together to advance this extremely important bill.
But as everyone who knows me can attest, I'm an optimist who doesn't give up. There's always tomorrow. I truly believe we can get there. It's just going to take longer than I had hoped.
Thank you for placing your trust in me. It's an honor to represent citizens of the 18th Legislative District in Olympia.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"