Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2013 legislative session is just around the corner and while we are not in Olympia yet, my second term is already going to be very different than my first. During our leadership elections this November I was elected Republican whip. As the whip, I am a member of the leadership team and responsible for ensuring that members of the caucus are in attendance and voting when legislation makes its way to the floor of the House of Representatives. I will also be among the leaders who are responsible for setting legislative priorities supported by our caucus. There is definitely a learning curve to all the things that go on in and around the Legislature, but I am excited to be taking on a more active role.
I have also received my 2013 committee assignments. I will continue serving on the House Health Care and Wellness Committee as I did in my first term. The health care committee will oversee the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Washington, issues related to licensing and regulation of health care facilities, pharmaceutical regulations, oversight and regulatory responsibility for state and local public health programs, as well as other health care issues.
I will also be serving on the House Appropriations Committee. This is the “budget” committee as we hear the operating budget bill, pension policy and compensation and other fiscal issues.
Focus of the upcoming session
State budget: My assignment on the Appropriations Committee will be interesting to say the least. We expect the state to be looking at a shortfall of about $900 million when the Legislature convenes next month, despite a projected increase in tax collections.
Education: Of course a lot of the budget discussions will revolve around the state Supreme Court ruling in the McCleary v. State of Washington case. This is the landmark education funding decision by the court telling the Legislature and budget writers to fully-fund education as our state constitution directs us to do. It is our “paramount duty.” House Republicans have said, and will continue to say, let’s take the politics out of education and Fund Education First.
Jobs and economy: There are still a lot of people who are seeking full-time employment. We will be looking at a number of ideas to get our economy back on track and put people back to work. One of the most effective solutions to our state’s budget situation is to stimulate private-sector job growth.
What we can accomplish will hinge on a number of factors including how the new bipartisan coalition in the Senate holds together, our new governor, and how the 21 new members in the House fit in.
E-mail and contact information
I have moved my e-mail list from a state service to a third-party provider called GovDelivery. While my e-mails will still come from me, the e-mail address appears different. You can respond directly to the e-mail and it will come to me, even though my reply e-mail address will look different. You can still e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also see a logo for GovDelivery at the very end of my e-mails. You may need to adjust your spam filters to accept e-mails from an address with “@updates.leg.wa.gov.”
Let me know if you plan on traveling to Olympia. We always appreciate it when people take the time to voice their opinion in Olympia while the Legislature is in session.
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Merry Christmas and thank you
Finally, this time of year gives me the opportunity to reflect on the past year and be thankful for our family, friends and surroundings. I also feel very blessed and privileged to be serving as your state representative. However, it is also important that we remember those who are not as fortunate. Let’s keep them in our thoughts and prayers this holiday season.