Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are now more than halfway through the 2017 legislative session. Today, we picked up right where we left off last week, spending a full day on the House floor voting on dozens of bills. I'm happy to say three of my bills, House Bills 1433, 1742 and 2087, have been approved by the House and are now headed to the Senate.
House Bill 1433 would decouple the annual increase in services and activity (S&A) fees from the percentage increase in college tuition. With the Legislature both freezing and lowering college tuition over the past several years, budget writers have authorized S&A fee committees — comprised mostly of students — to vote on whether or not to increase their own fees based on campus and student needs. This bill would give our students the autonomy to better manage their own needs and remove budget writers from the process completely.
House Bill 1742 would provide a way for local auto repair shops to legally service vehicles with expired tabs. Under the bill, shops would have the option of registering with the Department of Licensing to purchase transporter license plates for these vehicles. These specialty plates would protect the employees of the business from being held responsible for a vehicle's expired tabs.
House Bill 2087 would expand the protections currently provided for police vehicles and tow truck operators to include work zones. This would better protect highway construction and maintenance workers, as well as flaggers.
Our next major session deadline is 'house of origin' cutoff, which is this Wednesday. By the end of the day March 8, all bills will need to have passed out of the chamber in which they were introduced or be considered “dead” for the year.
Three of my bills are on the second reading calendar
House Bills 1303, 1333 and 1538 are all on the second reading calendar, which means they may be brought to the floor for a vote at any time.
House Bill 1303 would 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 meet the required standard. The companion bill, Senate Bill 5142, passed the Senate unanimously and is now in the House Education Committee awaiting further action.
House Bill 1333 would establish a policy regarding how Advanced Placement (AP) course credits are recognized at higher education institutions across our state. Students who pass the AP test with a 3 or higher should have their college-level coursework acknowledged by these institutions.
House Bill 1538 would allow subcontractors to request that prime contractors provide a bond for their portion of the retainage. Upon request, the bond would need to be provided within 30 days.
Other bills I've supported or co-sponsored that have passed the House
Supporting our paraeducators: House Bill 1115, sponsored by Rep. Steve Bergquist, would provide opportunities for the 13,000 paraeducators across the state to develop within their profession and become teachers through alternative routes. Paraeducators work under the supervision of teachers to provide various levels of support, including performing instructional duties, assisting with classroom management and acting as translators. This bill was approved 93-5.
Protecting individuals with disabilities: House Bill 1258, sponsored by Rep. Gina McCabe, is known as the “Travis Alert Act.” This bill would allow people to submit information pertaining to an individual's disability to the Enhanced 911 program. This would enable dispatchers to deliver critical information to tailor first responders' actions to the needs of individuals with disabilities during emergencies. The bill also calls for a review of existing procedures and requires the Department of Health to create a training program for first responders, providing instruction for how to best respond to emergencies involving persons with special needs. This bill was approved 97-1.
Educating and assisting those with student loans: House Bill 1169, sponsored by Rep. Tina Orwall, would establish a student loan debt hotline and website where student loan borrowers could receive assistance from debt counselors. It would also require educational institutions, lenders, servicers, and collection agencies of student loans to send notices to borrowers about the hotline, website and debt counselors. With college costs rising over the past decade, this bill would be critical in helping our students navigate their student loans. This bill was approved 76-22.
Protecting your biometric data: House Bill 1493, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Morris, would protect consumers' biometric data — fingerprint, voiceprint, eye retinas or irises — from being used for commercial purposes without their consent. Currently, no laws exist in Washington state to regulate the collection or use of a person's biometric data for commercial purposes. This bill was approved 81-17.
Delivering remarks on Children's Day
I love Children's Day at the Capitol. It's a time when we can come together as one legislative body to celebrate every child in Washington and pass a resolution affirming our responsibility to cherish and protect them, as well as to lay the foundation for their future success.
“So Mr. Speaker, if you are quiet you can hear. You can hear the generations coming. A generation of technology. A generation of connection. A generation of innovation. We, in our commitment to our children, must begin by living beyond ourselves. Create a path for generations to explore their strengths and their weaknesses and to develop a range to go the distance, building persistence, pursuing life, experiencing freedom, and always choosing to love.”
Sponsoring House page Nadeen Baba
Last week, I had the opportunity to sponsor 14-year-old Nadeen Baba as a page in the state House. Nadeen attends Charles Wright Academy, a K-12 college prep school located in Tacoma, and was able to serve with two of her classmates during her week here. She attended page school every day, delivered messages and documents to legislators and staff, and fulfilled other tasks critical to the efficient operation of the Legislature. Thank you, Nadeen!
Next in-district town hall will be March 18
Thank you to those of you who joined Rep. McDonald, Sen. Zeiger and me at the Puyallup Library for our town hall last month! We had an incredibly productive dialogue, and I was glad to see the strong attendance of so many 25th District residents wanting to discuss the work being done this session in the Legislature.
We'll be holding two more town halls this year, with the next one being on Saturday, March 18 from 10-11 a.m. at the Franklin Pierce Early Learning Center. The other will be held on Saturday, April 29 from 10-11 a.m. at Pierce College's Puyallup Campus.
Thank you for continuing to send me your comments, questions and concerns about the wide range of legislative issues before us this year. Your feedback is important to me as we continue to work together on behalf of our communities in the 25th.
It is an honor to serve as your state representative.