Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your 47th District state representative. I am honored and humbled that you have put your trust in me during this challenging time in our state's history.
This is the first e-mail update I am sending out since I was sworn into office on Jan. 10. I will strive to send you brief updates regularly during the session so you have the information you need to contact me with comments and offer feedback on the many issues we will be debating in Olympia. I hope the following information is helpful to you:
My contact information:
Rep. Mark Hargrove
P.O. Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600
You can also visit my Web site where you will see current information and my weekly video updates.
Toll-free Hotline: 1-800-562-6000
Legislative Aide: Roy Atwood, Roy.Atwood@leg.wa.gov
I always welcome letters, calls and e-mails. If you plan to visit Olympia during the session, please let me know so we can set some time aside to meet.
My committee assignments:
I was appointed to serve as the assistant lead Republican on the House Transportation Committee, which is a critical position, considering the many challenges our district has with traffic flow and difficult interchanges. You can read my press release on this appointment here.
My philosophy on legislation:
I think there is a lot of opportunity to draft bills that may be a good idea. However, you sent me to Olympia to follow through with an agenda to restore fiscal sanity to budgeting, support solutions that encourage job creation and make our state's Education system second to none. That is why I will only be drafting and supporting bills that fall in line with what you told me you wanted accomplished. However, other lawmakers are drafting bills I can support. Plus, each bill drafted costs taxpayers nearly $5,000!
To that end, I have introduced two bills:
Innovation Schools Legislation: House Bill 1546 captures the idea that parents and teachers know what best fits the needs of students in their communities. This measure would allow communities the flexibility to come up with designs that fit their own unique challenges and opportunities. Whether it is helping underachieving schools improve, closing the achievement gap or lowering dropout rates, my bill opens the door to new ways of doing things.
I believe this approach will energize teachers, parents and kids because they will design the school and be invested in its success. I would welcome your feedback on this bill and any ideas you see that could improve it.
Business Assistance and Encouragement Legislation: House Bill 1672 would double the small business tax credit to encourage small business job creation. The Business and Occupation Tax (B&O) is a gross receipts tax on employers. Employers pay this tax whether they have made a profit or not. This proposal would free up capital in businesses that could be put to better use hiring employees. The only way to turn our economy around is to get people working again.
What I have learned:
Working across the aisle is critically important and I am pleased I have already built strong working relationships with members of the other party and have received bipartisan support for my ideas…and offered support for some of their good ideas.
A bill introduced in the House has a long way to go before it is law. First it has to pass the House, then it goes to the Senate for the same hearing process, then finally to the governor for signature. If there are amendments in the Senate, it comes back to the House for “concurrence,” which is basically a vote to accept or reject the amendment. Legislators not only need support in their chamber, but must work with the other body to make sure the bill will pass. It's a lot to learn.
One last observation I want to share with you is my frustration with the committee system, and in particular how it functioned in the recent budget bill.
Normally, as a member of the education committee and the education appropriations and oversight committee, I would have the opportunity to evaluate and vote on specific education and associated budgeting issues. However, all of the decisions about the budget bill and the only proposed alternative were made in the Ways and Means Committee.
Therefore, in my first opportunity to vote on a bill of significance, I faced the uncomfortable predicament of voting for a bill that some of my constituents didn't like, because the alternative was worse. Unfortunately, that is the nature of the political process. My hope is as we work together this session, there is more compromise and feedback from the majority party – and a new willingness to accept Republican ideas and solutions.
I want to hear from you:
I value your time and will make these e-mail updates short and to-the-point, but if you ever want more information on a bill or issue, please feel free to contact me.
In my next email, I will give you a brief, but detailed look at the budget adjustments made this week and the next steps to solving our current budget shortfall and addressing the nearly $5 billion shortfall for the 2011-13 budget that begins July 1.
Thank you, again, for allowing me to serve you.
P.S. — If for any reason you would no longer like to receive these email updates, you may take your name off my confidential distribution list by going to this link and selecting “Leave.” Please feel free to share this email with your friends and family…they are welcome to join my email list, too.