Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The last ten days has been hectic as we have debated, amended and passed bills. We have worked long hours, late nights, and weekends as the deadline of 5 p.m. today approaches. After 5 p.m. any bills that have not been passed from their house of origin are considered “dead” for the year. Bills that are necessary to implement the budget are exempt from this deadline.
We have seen some very bad Democrat-sponsored measures come up for a vote during our floor action. At a time when the state is facing a multi-billion dollar deficit, our unemployment rate remains over nine percent, and employers are still struggling, I have yet to see any job creating bills from the majority party.
Instead, legislation has passed that would implement tougher regulations and steep fines against contractors (House Bill 1701). A bill was also passed nicknamed the “Permanent Employment Act.” House Bill 1832 would protect workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport from losing their jobs when new contractors take over. Under the bill, new contractors who provide services within the airport would be required to retain employees for 90 days and unless employees do something wrong, the new contractor would be required to keep them on the job. This sets a dangerous precedent for guaranteed employment contracts and is a prime example of state government telling the private sector how to run their business.
Worse yet, the majority party has rejected nearly all of our job-creation bills.
- Workers’ compensation reform (House Bill 1872), although Senate passed their bill to be considered in the House.
- Double small business B&O tax credit (House Bill 1672)
- Keep homes affordable by delaying expensive new state energy code requirements (House Bill 1388)
- Require permit decisions in 90 days (House Bill 1961)
- Freeze on rulemaking (House Bill 1156)
- Make unfunded mandates on school and local governments optional (House Bill 1855)
The way we get the economy turned around is getting Washington back to work. Small businesses are the cornerstone of our economy. They provide the jobs and support for our communities, families and individuals.
Columbia River Crossing
The discussions surrounding the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) bridge has been getting a lot of attention lately. I wrote an op-ed with Sen. Don Benton and Reps. Ed Orcutt and Ann Rivers that published in The Columbian yesterday. We all felt it was necessary the public hear from us on this issue. You can read it here.
It is important people understand our frustration with the process because all options were not initially explored and there has been an obvious lack of transparency in this process. Although it is not the direct responsibility of the Legislature to oversee the CRC, I will continue to work to make sure the public is involved and our communities get the best infrastructure possible, while our tax dollars are spent wisely.
People who want to get involved still have plenty of opportunities to do so. Public comment meetings are scheduled for this Thursday, March 10, in Portland and Vancouver. From noon to 2 p.m., the Columbia River Crossing listening session will be at the Portland Expo Center, Hall D, 2060 N. Marine Drive.
From 6 to 8 p.m., a CRC listening session is scheduled at the Washington State Department of Transportation Southwest Region Building, 11018 N.E. 51st Circle in Vancouver. Comments can also be submitted in various ways by going to http://www.columbiarivercrossing.org/ and clicking on “Get Involved.”
Town Hall Meeting
I will be hosting a town hall meeting along with Sen. Don Benton and Rep. Tim Probst this Saturday, March 12. I encourage you to attend and bring your questions and concerns. The morning meeting will be a discussion about legislative and community issues.
The time and location of the meeting on Saturday, March 12 are as follows:
Mountain View High School Auditorium
9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
1500 SE Blairmont Dr.
Vancouver, WA 98683
9:00 – 9:30 a.m. Informal discussion
9:30 – 10:30 a.m. Question and answer period
10:30 – 11 a.m. Additional time for informal discussion
If you have any questions on the town hall or any of the issues I have mentioned in my legislative update, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Thank you for allowing me to represent you in Olympia.