Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Thank you for allowing me to serve the communities of the 47th Legislative District. As a first-year legislator, I learned a great deal and enjoyed meeting those of you who came to visit me and attended my local town hall meetings. I have also enjoyed working with my fellow legislators to find solutions that work best for the entire state. There were disagreements on certain issues, but the debate and dialogue was always respectful and constructive.
This is my last e-mail update for the regular 2011 legislative session, but as you know we are being called back for a special session to finish the state budget. Below is a brief update with the information I know at this point. I will update you as I learn more.
Budget, tax bills putting Legislature into a special session
The regular legislative session was supposed to adjourn on Sunday, April 24, but after several days of waiting for the majority party to offer a list of bills to run on the House floor, the Legislature will adjourn on April 22, two days early. From what I understand, the House and Senate Democrat leadership are pretty far from agreement on the budget plan contained in House Bill 1087.
This means the Legislature will be brought back for a special session that could last as many as 30 days and cost taxpayers as much as $16,000 each day. Like many of you at home, I believe that given 105 days, the majority party should have finished their negotiations and work on time. That said, at this point all I can do is work hard for you and hope the House and Senate majority leaders come together on an agreement quickly, which will save the state money and help balance the current budget by the June 30 deadline.
Because we have a citizen Legislature that serves only part-time in Olympia, most of us have jobs to go back to. Whether that means taking care of a family, raising crops or flying airplanes, we all have lives outside of here and a lot of constituents who would like us to meet with them. The extra days can create a hardship for many lawmakers, particularly our agriculturists, but all of us are committed to finishing the difficult work you sent us to Olympia to do.
I, for one, am most excited to be home to spend more time with constituents, my family and my friends. As we move forward, I will keep you up-to-date on the Legislature’s progress and any new details on the budget.
Working as a team to get the people’s work done
Overall, being a new legislator has been a rewarding experience. There are issues both sides of the aisle disagree on, but the one thing we all do is allow disagreements to turn into constructive discussions. Even being in the minority, I have been able to laugh with my Democrat colleagues about some of the issues going on in Olympia and share good conversations. I was also pleased with how well our 47th District legislative team worked together. While we may disagree on certain issues, every legislator is trying to do the best for those we represent.
I have also learned a lot about the committee process and working in a bipartisan way, even as a member of the minority party. It takes solid teamwork to get the business of the people done. One example is the transportation budget. I appreciated being invited to the table to offer my thoughts and ideas. While the Senate has held up the bill at this point in session, we are continuing the bipartisan work in the conference committee.
My goal has always been to find a middle ground while still sticking to my principles, and I feel that with the guidance of my ranking Republican members and the Democrat committee chairs, I have been able to move my ideas forward in a meaningful way for the 47th District.
I want to hear from you
I know there are a lot of questions still unanswered about the impact of the budget on various programs, including education. Please keep your thoughts coming my way. I really do appreciate hearing from you. After budget negotiations are complete and I get to see the spending proposal, I will be sure to respond to your questions.
Also, if you would like to meet with me in Olympia during the special session, please call my legislative office. We will work to schedule a mutually workable meeting time. If you, or your civic group, would like to schedule a meeting with me after the special session, you can do that through my legislative office as well. Once I have an ending date, we can find a good time and location to meet.
Again, thank you for all your encouragement and the opportunity to serve. These are difficult times in our state and I know families are struggling with high unemployment and a slow economy. My goal was and is to represent you in a way that reflects how hard you are working for your families and neighbors. I truly appreciate you putting your faith in me to do what is right for the 47th Legislative District and the state.