Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are a little more than one month into the 2017 legislative session, and our first major deadline is almost here. As of 5 p.m. tonight, all bills that do not fiscally impact the state's three budgets will need to be passed out of their respective policy committees or be considered “dead” for the year. As a member of the House Higher Education Committee, a policy committee, I have been working hard with my colleagues to analyze and vote on bills as quickly as possible so they can continue on in the legislative process.
Exactly one week from now will be fiscal committee cutoff. Bills that do fiscally impact the state's three budgets will need to pass out of their respective fiscal committees or they, too, will be considered “dead” for the year. The House Transportation Committee, of which I am a member, is scheduled to meet every day next week to vote on the numerous fiscal bills that are awaiting a vote.
If you are interested in specific bills, contact the relevant committee chairs to request a vote be held before these deadlines pass. Your voice matters, and your emails and calls do make a difference.
An update on my bills
In my last email update, I gave a brief overview of House Bills 1303, 1742 and 1768. I wanted to provide an update on these bills and let you know about some others I've introduced.
House Bill 1303 aims to increase opportunities for sign language interpreters to meet the performance standard necessary to work in K-12 classrooms by providing an additional year for them to achieve the required standard. The bill unanimously passed out of the House Education Committee last week, was then pulled from the House Rules Committee, and is now awaiting a vote on the House Floor.
House Bill 1742 would provide a way for local auto repair shops to legally service vehicles with expired tabs. My bill would allow these shops to register with the Department of Licensing and purchase transporter license plates to use on such vehicles. House Bill 1742 received a public hearing in the House Transportation Committee Feb. 8, and is scheduled for an executive session (where the committee votes whether or not to pass a bill) next week.
House Bill 1768, which was recently covered in the Puyallup Herald, would reduce the amount of money college students are spending on textbooks by expanding access to open education resources (OER). 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 sits in the House Appropriations Committee, where it awaits a hearing.
Since my last update, I've introduced several bills.
House Bill 2087 is an effort to increase safety for workers on and near roadways. The bill would expand the protections currently provided for emergency and towing vehicles alongside the road, to roadside workers and utility vehicles.
House Bill 1333 would establish a policy regarding how Advanced Placement (AP) course credits are recognized at institutions of higher education across our state. Students who pass the AP test with a 3 or higher should have their college-level coursework acknowledged by the institutions. This bill passed out of the House Higher Education Committee this morning, and now moves to the House Rules Committee.
House Bill 1433 would de-couple the student activity increase cap from the percent increase in college tuition. With the Legislature both freezing and lowering college tuition over the past several years, budget writers have had to make special accommodations to give students at four-year colleges the ability to set student activity fees based on the needs of the campus. This bill would take the work out of the budget writers' hands and align it with state statute. House Bill 1433 passed out of the House Higher Education Committee and is now in the House Rules Committee.
I have also introduced three bills that make technical changes to state ethics laws. After studying the ethics laws of all 50 states in the country, I believe the technical changes in these bills would provide much-needed clarity and openness to the process. They have all been referred to the State Government, Elections and Information Technology Committee.
House Bill 1950 would change how respondents are notified of a pending complaint, requiring state ethics boards to use certified mail with return receipts. This change would create reliable documentation of official communication, which would protect the ethics boards, as well as legislators, executive officials and state employees. Sen. Zeiger has sponsored the Senate companion bill, Senate Bill 5796. It passed unanimously out of the Senate State Government Committee, and is now headed to the Senate Rules Committee.
House Bill 1994 would limit the actions of the Legislative Ethics Board (LEB) during preelection periods. Under the bill, the LEB would not be allowed to release a decision within 45 days of an election, nor would it be allowed to impose sanctions or recommend suspension, removal or prosecution. This bill would prevent ethics boards from being used for political purposes.
Finally, House Bill 2105 would seek to expand public involvement in the actions taken by state ethics boards. Currently, only state employees, legislators and members of the judicial and executive branches can seek guidance from ethics boards through advisory opinions. This bill would allow members of the public to ask ethics boards for guidance, encouraging boards to clarify their rules pertaining to new issues or new technologies that arise.
Town hall tomorrow!
Rep. McDonald, Sen. Zeiger and myself are hosting three in-district town halls in the next three months, with the first being tomorrow, Feb. 18 from 10-11 a.m. at the Puyallup Library. These are casual “coffee and conversation” meetings where you can share your concerns or support for policies moving through the Legislature.
The other two town halls will be:
- Saturday, March 18 from 10-11 a.m. at the Franklin Pierce Early Learning Center
- Saturday, April 29 from 10-11 a.m. at Pierce College, Puyallup Campus
Please join us to discuss the 2017 session and a wide range of legislative issues.
Appointed to Homeless Youth Advisory Committee
I was recently appointed to the Homeless Youth Advisory Committee, which provides recommendations to the Office of Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection Programs (OHY) on ways to reduce and prevent youth homelessness in our state.
I am one of 12 members on the advisory committee, which is comprised of legislators, advocates, law enforcement personnel, service providers and other stakeholders.
Over the past two years, I have worked to bring additional resources and opportunities to homeless students in our state. I'm looking forward to working with my colleagues on the advisory committee to ensure these students have the support necessary to succeed in school and in life.
House Page Program
It was a pleasure to sponsor 15-year-old homeschool student Daffyd Tyler as a page earlier this month. Daffyd is a Cadet Staff Sergeant in the Civil Air Patrol, a student glider pilot, an assistant Aikido instructor, and is also working toward earning her Girl Scout Gold Award. Service has always been a big part of her life, and one day, she'd like to serve our country in the Air Force. Thank you, Daffyd, for your drive to make this world a better place and for your service here at the Capitol as a page!
If you know of any young people who would be interested in coming to Olympia and learning more about how the Legislature works by serving as a page, please let me know. As a reminder, applicants must be between the ages of 14 and 16 and obtain written permission from their parents and school. For more information about the House Page Program, click here.
I want to thank you for sending me your comments, questions and concerns about a wide variety of legislative issues before us this year. Your feedback is important to making needed changes to legislation that impacts our communities.
It is an honor to serve as your 25th District state representative.