Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The first two weeks of the 2015 legislative session are off to a fast start, and we are focused on completing our work on time in the 105 days we are allotted. I am looking forward to once again serving as the assistant ranking member on the House Transportation Committee. I will also be serving on the House Education and Higher Education committees.
My number one priority is to make sure we're funding education first in the state budget. We should not fund everything else first and then hold education funding hostage by holding out for a tax increase to pay for it. That's the wrong approach, and that's why I support House Bill 1001. The bill funds education first, and creates a separate budget for education without relying on new tax sources.
Outside of education, I am focused on finding ways to create jobs, protect taxpayers and bring down the cost of transportation projects through a variety of reforms.
Other Bills I'm Supporting
I am very concerned about the number of college students that are graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. That's why I'm sponsoring House Bill 1556, which changes the state's Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program to allow parents to buy more flat-rate college tuition credits for their children. Currently, parents are limited to purchasing 500 tuition credits. My bill would increase that number to 800.
One of the bills I'm co-sponsoring is House Bill 1219, which expedites the permit and contracting process for repairing structurally deficient bridges, also reducing the cost. There are currently 130 state-owned bridges that are classified as structurally deficient by WSDOT. This important legislation is currently scheduled for public hearing in the House Transportation Committee.
Another bill I'm co-sponsoring, House Bill 1580, would increase the pay of state patrol officers, which is currently well below the state average for other law enforcement agencies. HB 1580 would raise state trooper pay to at least the average pay for the top five law enforcement agencies in the state. Training state troopers is expensive, so we don't want to lose them to cities that are willing to pay more for their services than the state is. I am proud to support this bipartisan bill.
Finally, I am working on legislation that would help get foster children into stable, loving homes more quickly, whether the best option for them is with their biological parents or adoptive parents. I'm also meeting with state agencies and foster parents to see if we can remove barriers to foster parent recruitment. For example, the recent Washington Administrative Code change to require foster parents and their families to get the flu vaccine may be chasing would-be foster parents away, just when we need them most.
In my first update of the 2015 legislative session, I talk in greater lengths about my legislative priorities, legislation I'm working on, and a recent workshop I hosted for legislators that was sponsored by the National Institute for Civil Discourse. Take a look.
March for Life
Last Tuesday, the March for Life was held at the Capitol. I believe it was the biggest crowd I've seen in the five years I've attended the event, which is wonderful. I'm always encouraged by those who stand up for the unborn and make their voices heard. Thank you to those of you who attended the rally.
If you have questions, concerns or thoughts, please feel free to contact my legislative office at (360) 786-7918 or email me at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you.