The marathon is on! We are now in the fifth week of the 2017 legislative session, and policy cutoff is right around the corner. This represents the first important milestone of the session. By the end of the day on Feb. 17, all policy bills without fiscal impacts will need to have been voted out of their respective committees or they'll be considered “dead” for the year.
I have introduced five bills this session, two of which have passed out committee. Two more have received public hearings this week, and another will receive a public hearing next week.
Below is a brief synopsis of each bill:
House Bill 1120 is an effort to support our state's small businesses. The bill is necessary due to the findings of an audit conducted by the Washington State Auditor's Office regarding the implementation and impact of Washington's Regulatory Fairness Act (RFA) on our state's small businesses. The audit uncovered chronic non-compliance of state agencies with the RFA, as well as other issues that show a serious lack of respect for small business owners. My bill would correct these issues and ensure agencies are fully complying with state law.
House Bill 1421 would protect your payment credentials in business transactions with state agencies. State agencies would be prohibited from storing these payment credentials on state data systems, and would be required to eliminate any existing payment data from these systems by July 1, 2020. In its 2016 Data Breach Report, the Attorney General's Office revealed financial account information was the most frequently compromised type of private information.
House Bill 1717 would regulate biometric privacy — something only two other states in the country (Texas and Illinois) have done. My bill would prohibit state agencies from obtaining a biometric identifier — retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, scan of the hand or face — without notice and consent. State agencies would also be prohibited from selling the identifier.
House Bill 1784 is a bipartisan effort to help protect our children. The bill would require the Washington State Department of Health to: (1) Contract with a child safety certification provider to develop a certified child safety policy for all youth recreational organizations to help prevent abuse; and (2) Begin a five-county pilot program, collaborating with the provider and local governments, to ensure all local government youth recreational organizations have established and implemented a certified child safety policy. It's been an honor working with the Brigid Collins Family Support Center on this bill. They're dedicated to the important work of ending child abuse by protecting children and building strong families.
House Bill 1904 addresses the big data economy of the 21st century. This bill would impose a business and occupation tax on businesses that sell or exchange the personal information of Washingtonians. Those who choose to do so would be subject to this tax in order to help offset the significant new cost of cybersecurity, data protection and new educational industry demands. We must make inroads where we can in an effort to safeguard your private information.
Education funding proposals now on the table
The majority parties in the House and Senate have now released their education funding proposals. After reviewing both proposals, I'm encouraged by what the Senate majority has put on the table. Their plan puts students first, while also ensuring quality teachers remain in the classroom. It also replaces our current flawed system, which relies too heavily on local levy dollars, with a constitutional funding source — a flat local effort property tax. The plan put forth by House Democrats keeps the current system in place, though they acknowledge levy reform could potentially be an option at some point.
Now negotiations begin to take the best of all plans on the table and create a hybrid solution for our students. Things will inevitably change, but it's good to see plans from the majority parties released this early in the session. House Republicans have also developed an extensive plan that focuses on providing a quality education to every child in Washington state – regardless of ZIP code. I am hopeful that at the end of the day, we'll be able to pass a comprehensive McCleary solution that puts students first, rewards quality teachers, implements a funding system that is equitable and dependable, and builds on the successes we've achieved the past several years.
Appearing on KBRC/KAPS
Last week, I was interviewed by KBRC/KAPS News Director Jeff Rex. Jeff and I discussed several issues under consideration in the Legislature, including cybersecurity and privacy issues, making sure state agencies are complying with state law and respecting small businesses, and the funding of K-12 education. Click here to listen to our interview.
Please continue contacting me with your comments, questions and concerns. I always look forward to your feedback, as it helps me better serve you and bring your interests to the forefront.
It is an honor to serve you.