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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Monday, May 13, was first day of the 2013 special session. The regular, 105-day legislative session ended April 28. Because no agreement could be reached on a state operating budget, the governor called a special session. Throughout the special session and into the interim I will continue to send updates like these to keep you informed. Please feel free to pass this e-mail along to others who may be interested. Folks can sign up for my e-mail updates by clicking here. And, learn more about my activities as your legislator by visiting my Web site.
During the final days of the regular session, I had many visitors. One of the groups I had a wonderful time with was the students from Panther Lake Elementary. You can see this great group of students sitting with me in the State Reception Room of the Capitol Building in the picture to the right.
It is always inspiring to see younger generations show an interest in civics and government. Government effects all of our lives. Understanding and participating in the process early will benefit these children in the future. (If you would like to see a larger version please click on the photo.)
The Legislature is currently in what is called “pro forma'” session, which means that although a special session has been called we are not holding committee hearings and voting on bills. I have been spending a lot of time in Federal Way and around our district reconnecting with residents. However, I have not stopped thinking about the needs of residents and the next steps we need to take in Olympia.
Despite the pro forma session, House and Senate budget writers are meeting in an attempt to find a consensus on the budget that will move us forward. As I have shared with you before, the House proposal, the governor's plan and the Senate budget are very different. You can learn exactly how the budgets are different by visiting the Washington LEAP Web site.
- The Senate budget is balanced within the expected tax collections, which are up $2 billion. Therefore, it creates no new or increased taxes while allocating more money to K-12 education and priorities like public safety.
- The House budget (which mirrors the governor's plan) relies on $879 million in new and higher taxes to balance, it also depletes the “rainy-day fund” and makes few reforms.
I am hopeful that Legislative leadership and budget writers will find a compromise that does not further tax our hardworking citizens. I will continue to keep you updated on the progress we are making in Olympia on the budget and any new legislation that may arise.
I'm happy to tell you the bill I co-sponsored which would further the effort to end human trafficking was signed into law on May 3. Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1291 creating a new law that specifies a portion of fees imposed on perpetrators of sex trafficking be made available for victims' rehabilitative services. The law will go into effect on July 28, 2013.
The commercial sex industry can happen under many circumstances. Once people, especially young adults and children, find themselves in this situation it can be nearly impossible to get out. As a state, if we can create protections for victims while seeking accountability for human traffickers and others that perpetuate this crime, we can give victims their lives back. I'm proud this law has passed and believe it will help our communities and citizens have safer, healthier lives.
In closing, please remember my door is always open. My goals are to keep our communities safe, make government more efficient, create jobs and improve our quality of life. If you have any questions or comments, please call me at (360) 786-7898, or e-mail me at Linda.Kochmar@leg.wa.gov. I look forward to hearing from you.
122F Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7898 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000