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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Thank you for trusting me to serve the communities in the 47th Legislative District. It's truly an honor. Below is a brief update on the current special session and legislation I had signed into law. I hope you find this information helpful.
Special session update
As you likely know, the majority party negotiations between the House and Senate stalled in the regular session, which adjourned April 22. The governor called the Legislature back for a 30-day special session to finish the budget. Unfortunately, little or no progress has been made despite being in the third week of the special session that is supposed to end May 25. Each day the full Legislature is in, it costs taxpayers as much as $16,000. That's money that could be better spent on education or assisting our most vulnerable citizens.
So far, the House has only worked a few days in which we actually debated and voted on bills. The House Ways and Means Committee has met sporadically, but not enough to actually get any solid work done on the state operating budget, which is the only thing we should be focused on right now. Instead, bills to raise taxes and other miscellaneous bills are being introduced and discussed in committee. We need to get going on the task at hand – balancing the state budget within current tax revenue, which is up nearly 14 percent. It is irresponsible to waste time and taxpayer dollars debating bills that will not pass or make our budget dependent on new or increased taxes passing this November. I am concerned about the uncertainty this delay is creating for our school district and others waiting to see what their budgets will look like come July 1. It also creates uncertainty for employers who are holding off hiring until they see how new and higher taxes and fees, along with inflation, impact their bottom lines.
No matter which party is in charge, it is unacceptable to drag out decisions that need to be made right now.
Innovations Schools legislation signed into law
I am pleased to report that my first bill as your new representative was signed into law May 5. You can read my press release on the legislation here.
House Bill 1546, which passed with strong bipartisan support in the House and Senate, authorizes the creation of Innovation Schools and Innovation Zones focusing on arts, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The new law also:
- Directs the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to establish a process for school districts to apply to Educational Service Districts to designate Innovation Schools or groups of schools as Innovation Zones;
- Places a priority on schools focused on the arts, science, technology, engineering and mathematics;
- Requires applications to be developed by educators, parents, and communities in participating schools;
- Establishes a time frame for applications, which must be able to be implemented without supplemental state funds; and
- Authorizes the OSPI and the State Board of Education to waive specified laws and rules using an expedited review process.
What I really like about this legislation is that it allows parents, teachers and administrators to be creative when designing a learning plan for students. What I have often noticed is that when stakeholders are invested in the outcomes, it makes the programs better. I am looking forward to seeing what types of innovative solutions communities come up with to serve their unique student populations.
Despite being in a special session, I am available to meet with you, your friends and civic groups to offer a legislative update, listen to your thoughts and answer questions. If you have a meeting or event you would like me to speak at, please feel free to contact my legislative office. We will work with you to schedule a time that fits your needs.
Thank you, again, for allowing me to serve you. Please feel free to contact me anytime.
436 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7918 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000