Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Legislature remains in a special session as budget negotiations continue. I was hopeful we would finish our work on time during the 105-day regular session, but agreements could not be reached on the operating, capital and transportation budgets, as well as a transportation funding package. We are now in a “rolling session,” which means only a few key budget negotiators remain in Olympia. When an agreement is reached, or when certain parts of the budgets need to be voted on, all legislators will be called back to Olympia to discuss, debate and cast our votes.
The largest point of contention remains the House Democrats' insistence that we need $1.5 billion in new and increased taxes to fund our two-year operating budget obligations. The state is bringing in an additional $3.2 billion more in revenue for the next budget cycle – a more than 9 percent increase. With new revenue numbers released on Monday by the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, it remains clear tax hikes are unnecessary. It is time to pass a sustainable operating budget that does not raise taxes and sets the right priorities for our state.
House Bill 1316 signed into law
Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee signed my House Bill 1316 into law. The bill requires police officers to arrest without a warrant any person they have probable cause to believe has violated a temporary protection order regarding the abuse of vulnerable adults, such as the elderly or disabled. Police already have the power to do this in domestic abuse cases, but not in cases involving vulnerable adults. This oversight will now be corrected, and our elderly and disabled adult populations will be better protected under the law.
My tour of Central Washington University
As a member of the House Higher Education Committee, I recently had the opportunity to travel to Central Washington University (CWU) and experience College Civics Week. During my tour of the CWU campus, I met with Dr. Elvin Delgado and Margaret Reich, who are in the final stages of completing the rubric for a new interdisciplinary energy program that will be offered starting this fall. The program is particularly exciting because it has been developed with industry professionals and includes an apprenticeship in the final year of the program to increase the likelihood of job placement after graduation.
I also met with Prof. Ian Quitadamo, who was teaching biology to sophomore students when I was there. During a brief Q&A session, the students raised concerns regarding access to STEM education in high school, as well as the affordability (or lack thereof) of higher education. The final stop on my tour was to the administration offices to discuss the goals of CWU and how the college has changed in recent years.
My day at the university concluded with an opportunity to speak at a civic engagement discussion in the student union building. I shared about my path to the Legislature, working in a bipartisan manner to find solutions to our state's problems, and the importance of engaging in the political process. Below is a collage of my day at CWU.
Attending the Summit-Waller Community Association annual meeting
The Summit-Waller Community Association recently held their annual meeting, which I was proud to attend. The theme of the evening was education, and Rep. Zeiger and I had the opportunity to share the stage with Puyallup School District Superintendent Dr. Tim Yeomans and Franklin Pierce School District Superintendent Dr. Frank Hewins. Yeomans and Hewins provided an update on district operations, student success, and upcoming bond measures.
During my portion of the program, I discussed the Legislature's ongoing budget negotiations surrounding education funding and the need to fulfill our McCleary obligations as set forth by the state Supreme Court. I also discussed policy measures up for debate in the Legislature, such as financial literacy education, end-of-course assessments, and increased access to STEM programs for our local communities.
Traveling to Washington D.C. for education discussions
I was honored the National Conference of State Legislatures gave me the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. recently to be involved in discussions about state and federal roles in K-12 education, as well as in our higher education system. I met with several U.S. representatives, as well as staff from Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers' office. I also met with U.S. Senator Patty Murray's education policy staff, as well as with U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell. Additionally, I had meetings with White House staff and representatives from the U.S. Department of Education.
While in D.C., I participated in conversations surrounding the federal waiver, changes to the federal role in education through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and the affordability of our higher education system. Federal policy decisions have a direct impact on our state, and I am committed to being involved in the policy conversations, working to deepen the quality of our education system and provide flexibility for our diverse student populations.
When I returned to Olympia, I met with Deputy Assistant Secretary Joseph Walsh from the U.S. Department of Education in my office to continue the education discussion.
Town hall meeting in Fife
Rep. Zeiger and I recently hosted a town hall meeting at the Poodle Dog Restaurant in Fife. We discussed a wide range of topics, including the importance of improving our transportation infrastructure, the partnership between local and state government, and education curriculum. We look forward to hosting another town hall event soon!
In my most recent video update, I provide an update on the special session, discuss legislation, and talk about my visits to Central Washington University and Washington D.C. Take a look!
As always, please feel free to send me an email or call my office at (360) 786-7948 with any comments, questions or concerns you may have.
It is an honor to serve as your state representative.