Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Hello and welcome to the 2013 legislative session. It is an honor to be back in Olympia serving my friends and neighbors.
Even before opening day political fireworks went off as two Democrats joined like-minded Republicans and formed the Majority Coalition Caucus, which now holds the majority in the State Senate. Many have talked about the historical and political significance of these events, but more importantly I believe the Senate will focus on passing a fiscally conservative budget. I can only hope the House will follow suit.
We've had unsustainable budgets passed year after year due to one party control of the legislative process. I hope this change will result in true reform and a budget which will put us on the right track.
First and foremost, I believe we need to make K12 education a priority in the 2013 legislative session. House Republicans last year called on the legislature to fund education first before any other programs or agencies were allocated for in the budget. This year, the Supreme Court agreed with us in their McCleary decision, and said we must do more for students and teachers in Washington. We are again calling on those in Olympia to Fund Education First in the 2013 session.
Our children deserve our first dollar, not our last. Too often in Olympia Democrats try to appeal to voters to approve tax increases to pay for our children's education. We have enough money right now to fully fund education, if we fund it first before any other program or services.
Jobs and the Economy
There is much discussion about how to best help get Washington working again and improve the business climate in our state, but the bottom line is that too many in Washington are out of work and we must make it easier for employers to hire.
I support measures which would streamline the permitting process to 90-days and to reform the Workers Compensation program. Both of these would make it less expensive for businesses to hire people.
Along these same lines, I strongly support the 2/3 majority to raise taxes. It is disappointing that lawmakers in Olympia need this measure in place to be reminded to live within our means, but it is the reality. Families are struggling, and they cannot afford to send any more of their hard earned money to Olympia.
In fact, earlier this month House Republicans joined together to change the rules the House of Representatives follows. One of those changes would have placed a supermajority requirement for all tax increases directly into House rules. The Democrats are currently challenging this requirement in court and by placing it in rules we would protect the will of the voters. In our last election, Initiative 1185 passed by a statewide margin of nearly 64%. To me, there is no clearer message taxpayers could have sent.
The 5th District is dependent on the state highways that wind through our communities. Many in our District commute to work to Seattle and Bellevue, and maintaining and improving our arterials is of utmost importance.
Statewide, we must look at how we will maintain our infrastructure. The gas tax is a diminishing revenue source, and in large part how we maintain and operate our state roads and highways. There will be talk of how to raise revenue to support these projects. I will not be supporting of a gas tax increase, for two main reasons. First, we have seen it doesn't work. When gas prices go up, people stop driving around our beautiful state. Second, I believe there is work to do to reform our current system.
Universal background checks for gun sales
I voted against House Bill 1588 in the Judiciary Committee because in my view it impermissibly infringes on our 2nd Amendment rights by establishing a de facto state-wide registration system for all firearms. Also, I believe that it is unenforceable and will drain scarce law enforcement resources away from combating crime to attempting to enforce private firearms transactions. It simply would not solve the problem of gun violence and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, those who have been involuntarily committed due to mental instability, and those subject to various protection orders. We need to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons and those with mental disabilities with a propensity for violence but this bill would only infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners.
I recently appeared on the TVW show “The Impact” to discuss my views on this bill, as well as other pieces of legislation dealing with gun control. Click to watch the segment.
It continues to be an honor to serve our communities. If I can ever be of assistance, please don't hesitate to contact me. My contact information is below.