Thank you for signing up for my weekly legislative updates. During the legislative session, these are an effective way for me to keep you up-to-date on important things happening in Olympia. I will also be posting a bi-weekly video update that I would invite you to view on my legislative website.
As the third week of the 2010 Legislative Session comes to an end, I've already heard from hundreds of constituents on a wide range of issues. While you and I may not agree on everything, I assure you I do listen to and value your thoughts and concerns, and am always grateful to hear from you on the issues important to the 10th district.
Here are some updates from week three of the 2010 legislative session:
Business and Agriculture
This year I sponsored House Bill 2603 in an effort to offer some assistance to small businesses across Washington state. The bill passed the State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee on Friday.
I also sponsored House Bill 2460 at the request of the Washington State Department of Agriculture in an effort to assist those agriculturists in Washington state making the transition to organic farming or simply trying to comply with state and federal guidelines. This bill passed the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee last week.
Public Safety/Drunk Driving
After meeting with two constituents last year whose daughter was killed by a repeat drunk driver, I decided to introduce two bills to stiffen DUI penalties. The first bill, House Bill 2027 increases the charge for repeat DUI offenders. The second bill, House Bill 2028, increases the standard sentence range for vehicular homicide committed while under the influence.
Although I received broad bi-partisan support on these measures, neither received a public hearing. The tragic events that result from these choices are senseless and preventable, and I believe our current laws send the wrong message. I will continue to work with my colleagues to find solutions and work toward making progress to address this critical issue, and was pleased that KIRO 7 News travelled to Whidbey Island Thursday, January 28 and ran a story on the evening news.
State Budgeting Process
House Bill 2872, is a measure that would “establish a period of public and legislative review of appropriations legislation” received a public hearing on January 25. This bill simply prohibits the House or Senate from voting on any of the budgets until after 72 hours have passed since the budget was last subject to amendment. This is an important step to prohibit an important operating, transportation or capital budget from being voted on before many of the members, and the public, have had ample time to read it, and that is why I have signed on as a co-sponsor of this legislation.
In a recent report given by the Washington State Department of Commerce, we were given a list of 12 different competitiveness factors gathered from various reports and an analysis by the department. While we can and should celebrate the things we are doing well – top 10 rankings in research and innovation, cost of energy, and access to capital – we must begin to address the things that are making it difficult for employers to create and retain jobs in Washington state. We had an average ranking of 25th in the country with regard to our regulatory environment, and 40th in cost of labor (per employee state cost: workers' compensation premiums, unemployment insurance taxes, etc).
I have sponsored and co-sponsored legislation this session to address many of these concerns, and will continue working hard to put people back to work in this difficult economy.
I hope this update is helpful for you. As always, I look forward to working with you in the future, and please don't hesitate to contact me with any thoughts, questions or concerns you might have. I appreciate you taking the time to read my email update, and will keep in touch throughout the legislative session.