Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It is an honor to serve our communities in the 25th District and to work on your behalf to advance your priorities in the people's House. The 2017 legislative session is well under way, and while we face many challenges, I believe we have a great opportunity in this 105-day session to pass policies and budgets that meet the needs of our communities and move our state forward.
This session, I am serving on two committees – the House Transportation Committee and the House Higher Education Committee. We've been hard at work in both of these committees hearing bills, debating their merits and voting on whether or not to advance them to the next stage of the legislative process.
Bills I'm sponsoring this session
During interim, I sat down with members of the Education Committee, as well as with students and community members, to discuss key issues of concern and how they could be addressed through legislation. These conversations resulted in my sponsorship of several bills this session, including the following:
House Bill 1303 aims to increase opportunities for sign language interpreters to meet the performance standard necessary to work in K-12 classrooms. The current certification model gives interpreters one year to meet a national test standard, but they're waiting six months on average to get test results. I have been told by interpreters from various sign language modes that providing an additional year for them to achieve the required standard will ensure they remain in our schools teaching our children. House Bill 1303 is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Education Committee tomorrow, Jan. 31.
House Bill 1742 would provide a way for local auto repair shops to legally service vehicles with expired tabs. During interim, I spoke with a local auto repair shop owner who told me that under current state law, a shop like his could be cited for a traffic infraction if they serviced a vehicle with expired tabs. My bill would allow these shops to register with the Department of Licensing and purchase transporter license number plates to use on such vehicles. This bill has been referred to the House Transportation Committee, where it awaits a hearing.
House Bill 1768 would reduce the cost of textbooks for college students by expanding access to open education resources (OER). After working with students, faculty members and higher education institutions for the past two years, this proposed grant program would build upon and expand the open resource programs that currently exist at colleges. Washington state's four-year colleges would be able to use grants to increase the number of students with access to OER materials and provide faculty with increased assistance in developing them. This bill has the potential to save college students hundreds of dollars on textbooks each quarter. It has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee, where it awaits a hearing.
The House passed its first bill last week, House Bill 1059. This bill would extend the date of the so-called “levy cliff,” providing stability for our local school districts as they put together their budgets for the 2017-18 school year. I supported the bill, and look forward to the one-year levy cliff extension being included in the final education funding plan we pass this session.
House Page Program
It was a privilege to sponsor siblings Hannah and Elias Hadjes as House pages last week. These two have bright futures ahead of them, and I was thrilled when they told me state government feels more accessible to them after their week here at the Capitol. It is powerful when our young people learn the kind of impact they can have on the legislative process.
If you know of someone who would be interested in coming to Olympia to serve as a page this session, please send me an email at Melanie.Stambaugh@leg.wa.gov. Applicants must be between the ages of 14 and 16 and obtain written permission from their parents and school. Pages earn $35 per day and spend a week attending page school, learning the inner workings of state government and assisting legislators on the House floor.
For more information about the House Page Program, visit http://www.leg.wa.gov/House/Pages/HousePageProgram.aspx.
I want to hear your thoughts and ideas for how we can work together to solve the challenges facing our district and state. I also welcome your feedback and questions about my legislation and the legislative process as a whole. My contact information is below.
It is an honor to serve the 25th District in the state House.