Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We're in the homestretch! The 2016 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn March 10, so that means we have less than two weeks to wrap up our work and return home.
Last week, the House and Senate released their respective operating budget proposals, and both chambers have passed those budgets. Now negotiators must come together the next few days to reach an agreement on the supplemental budget plan. With the latest revenue forecast showing our state in a slight deficit, it's important we keep to the spirit of a supplemental year — small adjustments to the two-year spending plan and additional appropriations for emergencies.
Unfortunately, there is an appetite in Olympia to increase taxes by as much as $119.5 million. The House budget that passed last week relies on these tax increases and raids the rainy day fund for non-emergencies. The February revenue forecast is proof that our state, while covering, is still economically fragile. Any proposal that would financially impact Washingtonians should be approached with caution. There are some good things in this budget, including one of my amendments that I discuss further below, but I can't justify supporting significant tax increases on hardworking families at this time.
There is a budget proposal just passed by the Senate that is much more balanced, fiscally responsible and doesn't sweep the rainy day fund.
Standing up for families, individuals with developmental disabilities
House Bill 2403, my bill that would require more information be distributed to expecting parents as it relates to positive prenatal or postnatal diagnoses of Downs Syndrome, passed the House and is awaiting Senate floor consideration. Even in our modern society, there's still a lack of evidence-based information out there about Downs Syndrome. Parents need accurate, helpful information as they enter this new chapter of their lives.
You can read more about the bill here. This legislation must pass the Senate no later than Friday.
I was pleased my amendment to the House supplemental operating budget received unanimous support last week. This amendment will expand access to community respite throughout Washington. Community-based respite is seen as more inclusive, and less isolated and traumatic than respite in institutions. It's important families and individuals with developmental disabilities have immediate care options within their communities. You can read more about my amendment here.
Hitting the 'pause button' on Tacoma's proposed methanol plant
The proposed methanol plant at the Port of Tacoma is under some serious scrutiny right now. State lawmakers, Federal Way and Des Moines officials and concerned residents have weighed in on the issue — many opposed to a plant that will output 7 million tons of methanol annually, making it the largest producer in the world. The plan is on hold for now, but it is far from over. Moving forward, we need to ensure the plan has been through a rigorous review process before building the plant.
I sponsored legislation this session that would have prohibited the siting of certain facilities such as the proposed refinery that could jeopardize air quality in areas that have historically failed to meet air quality standards. Unfortunately, that bill didn't advance this session. You can read more about my bill here.
The News Tribune recently published an article with frequently asked questions about the plant: click here.
Join us for town halls March 15 and 17
Sen. Mark Miloscia, Rep. Teri Hickel and I are hosting three town hall events the week after session is scheduled to adjourn. During the events, we will provide an overview of the 2016 session, answer your questions and hear what your ideas are for making our district a better place to live, work and raise a family. The details are below. I hope to see you there!
March 15, 6 – 7 p.m.
Milton City Hall
1000 Laurel St, 98354
March 15, 7:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Algona City Hall
402 Warde St, 98001
March 17, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Federal Way City Hall
33325 8th Ave S, 98003
As lawmakers bring session to a close, please don't hesitate to contact me with your questions or concerns. It's an honor serving you in the state House.
122F Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7898 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000