Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It has been a very busy first six weeks of the legislative session, and we have now voted on dozens of bills that have come to the House floor. This past Friday presented the first deadline of the session, when bills were required to be passed out of their respective policy committees or be considered “dead” for the year.
This Friday, Feb. 27, presents the second deadline of the session, when all bills referred to a fiscal committee but not passed out are also considered “dead.”
To view a list of “good” and “bad” bills and their current status in the 2015 legislative session, click here.
An update on legislation I'm sponsoring
House Bill 1556 is currently awaiting further action in the House Appropriations Committee. The bill would change the state's Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program to allow parents to buy more flat-rate college tuition credits for their children. I look forward to seeing it progress, because it would really help parents ensure their children aren't saddled with exorbitant debt upon graduating college.
House Bill 1800 passed unanimously out of the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee. This bill requires a court to order the filing of a termination of parental rights petition when a child has been in out-of-home care for at least 12 months and the parents have had no contact. It awaits further action in the House Rules Committee.
House Bill 2039 would enable more students who already qualify for the State Need Grant to receive it without further cost to the state. While the bill did not receive a hearing before cutoff, it will be discussed in the coming weeks to be considered for future passage.
House Bill 2108, my bill to eliminate the flu shot mandate for foster families that take in children under two years of age, also did not receive a hearing, but this is still an issue that I'm going to pursue. It does not make sense for the state to impose a new mandate for a questionably effective vaccine at a time when we're facing a growing shortage of foster parents. I'm not encouraging anyone to avoid getting the flu shot, but this mandate is forcing foster parents to leave the system. And that is ultimately hurting kids who need a stable, loving place to call home.
Telephone town hall tonight!
I am holding an hour-long telephone town hall tonight, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. The program will be similar to a call-in radio show during which you may call and ask questions over the telephone, as well as participate in interactive surveys.
If you wish to join the community conversation tonight, please call (253) 414-0140 from 6-7 p.m. If you have a question at any point during the call, press the STAR * key on your telephone keypad. I look forward to speaking with you!
In my latest video, I discuss why I introduced legislation to eliminate the flu shot mandate for foster families. I also discuss House Bill 1556, and provide some thoughts on the Senate's transportation tax package, which implements some reforms, but also raises the state's gas-tax by 11.7 cents over the next three years. Take a look!
Children's Day at the Capitol
I always love when Children's Day rolls around here at the Capitol. Last Tuesday, my three grandchildren, Carter, Mackenzie and Jackson, were all on the House floor with me at the same time. It's good to have family visit to keep me grounded and remind me that there is life beyond the walls of the Capitol. I know the legislation we pass will affect not only my grandchildren, but millions more around the state.
Please keep the emails, letters and phone calls coming! I want to hear your ideas about what we can be doing better in the 47th District and around the state, so please don't hesitate to reach out to me. And don't forget to join me for a telephone town hall tonight, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m.
It is an honor to serve you.