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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As most of you know the legislative session ended a little over a week ago on March 13. It feels good to be back home full-time and enjoying everything that our great community has to offer. The 2014 legislative session saw some successes – and some disappointments. One success was the passage of a supplemental operating budget that prioritizes K-12 education and our most vulnerable Washingtonians – without raising taxes. One disappointment was the Legislature's inability to do more to help struggling people and employers in this fragile economic recovery.
One of the most important responsibilities of the Legislature is to pass a state operating budget. When I vote for a state budget, I want to know three things: Is it prioritized, sustainable and fair to taxpayers? The operating budget is largest of the three state budgets and funds priorities such as K-12 education, higher education, health and human services, the state correctional system, debt service and other areas of state government. I supported the final proposal because it prioritized: K-12 education; higher education; and long-term care, mental health and people with developmental disabilities. We took a big step forward for our schools last year – and we will need to take another big step forward next year.
Since being elected your state representative, I have sponsored and co-sponsored some important measures. I was happy to have some important bills that I sponsored move through the process again this year.
- House Bill 2359, is awaiting the governors signature to become law. This is a good little bill that would exempt certain collectable vehicles from emission test requirements help collectors and other community members continue to enjoy a great local hobby.
- A bill that would have helped our local water-sewer districts operate more efficiently and hopefully help keep rates from rising, House Bill 2170, made it very far though the process. I hope to continue pushing for passage of this legislation next year.
- I co-sponsored a bill that would promote transparency in government, House Bill 2105, that has made it to the governor's desk. Members of the public should have a fair understanding of what may be discussed at meetings held by public agencies. This bill requires that agendas be posted online in advance of the meetings.
You can see a full list of the legislation I have sponsored and co-sponsored here.
Your input – survey results
Thank you to the hundreds of people who completed and returned my newsletter survey. In the survey, I asked folks to rank issues based on their personal importance and to rank how budget dollars should be spent. I have included the results below.
|General Issues in order of importance:||State Budget Priorities|
3. Public Safety
5. Health Care
6. Limiting the Size of Gov't
|1. K-12 Education
2. Public Safety
3. Tax Relief
4. Health Care
6. Higher Education
7. Early Learning
8. State Parks
Fifty percent of respondents said their health insurance costs went up, 44 percent said it remained the same, and just 6 percent said these costs went down. It is concerning to me that the Affordable Health Care Act is helping so few people in our district and hurting so many through higher premiums and skyrocketing deductibles.
People were also asked about their general financial condition. More than 36 percent of people who responded are doing worse financially this year compared to last year. It is absolutely clear that in 2014, jobs and cost of living are most critical to the well-being of our families.
Contact me and Coffee Talks
It's honor to represent you and our community in the Washington State House of Representatives. While the legislative session is over, I'm your state representative year-round. I'm here to answer your questions, listen to your ideas and assist you with state government. Please consider attending my district office grand opening on April 1 or one of my “Coffee Talks” on Fridays.
- District office grand opening – Tuesday, April 1, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. This is an opportunity for us to meet and share ideas. I have this office because I think it's important to have a local, convenient place to meet with the people I represent. Please consider stopping by on April 1. I look forward to seeing you.
- Weekly Coffee Talks – If you can't make it on April 1, I will also be hosting “Coffee Talks” in my district office every Friday from 11:00 a.m. to noon. You are always welcome.
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