Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are now in the final week of the 2018 legislative session. In years past, we have relied on multiple special sessions to complete our work, but I truly believe we'll adjourn on time this year.
The past two weeks have been a whirlwind. We've been spending a lot of time on the floor considering and voting on dozens of bills in the final stages of the legislative process. That work continues this week. We'll also be voting on final passage of the 2018 supplemental operating, capital, and transportation budgets before session adjourns on Thursday.
An update on my bills
I'm happy to report three of my bills advanced out of the Senate last week, and are now on their way to the governor's desk!
House Bill 1433 would delink the annual increase in services and activities (S&A) fees from the percentage increase in tuition. In recent years, budget writers have authorized S&A fee committees — comprised mostly of students — to vote on whether or not to increase their own fees. My bill would remove them from the process completely, and give our students the autonomy to make decisions based on campus and student needs. Vote count: 91-7 in the House, 41-8 in the Senate.
House Bill 1742 would provide a legal way for auto repair shops to service vehicles with expired tabs. Under current law, shop employees could be cited for test driving such vehicles. My bill would give shop owners the option of registering with the Department of Licensing to purchase transporter license plates, which would protect their employees from being cited by law enforcement. Vote count: 96-0 in the House, 48-0 in the Senate.
House Bill 2087 would require drivers to yield the right-of-way to any authorized vehicle or pedestrian working in a designated construction or maintenance area. According to data from the Washington State Department of Transportation, there were 161 fatal or serious injury crashes in work zones in Washington state from 2013 to 2017. If signed into law, it is my hope this bill will help reduce the number of crashes in work zones significantly. Vote count: 98-0 in the House, 49-0 in the Senate.
Senate Bill 6617 vetoed by governor
Our state's Public Records Act (PRA) specifically states, “The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know.” Two weeks ago, the House and Senate bypassed the typical legislative process and rammed a bill (SB 6617) through that would have exempted the Legislature from the PRA.
I voted “no.” It was the easiest vote I've taken since joining the Legislature.
For the past year, I have been telling people that government is out of line for refusing access to information that belongs to the people. I have personal experience requesting public records from both the legislative and executive branches, and know the importance of being able to access government records.
I believe the state Legislature can be transparent with records, while also protecting the identities of constituents and whistleblowers. Our executive branch, and local city and county governments, do this every day under the PRA.
You've been thanking me for my stance on SB 6617, but I want to thank all of YOU for voicing your opposition to this bill and contacting the governor's office. Your efforts worked. Late Thursday evening, the governor vetoed SB 6617, and both chambers signaled they would not vote to override his veto.
This was a victory for the people of Washington state and for transparency!
I serve in the People's House. I work for you. And I will continue to stand with you as the battle for increased transparency and a more open government continues.
As the 2018 session comes to a close, please continue contacting me with your thoughts, questions or concerns. My number is (360) 786-7948, and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is an honor to serve you.