Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I had hoped to send you this update sooner, but the first 30 days of the session has been a whirlwind. I plan on providing an e-mail update every couple weeks or so. Since this is the first e-mail update I want to let you know that you are receiving this because you have been on a distribution list of mine in the past or were on an e-mail list of the representative that held this position before me. If you no longer want to receive this e-mail update, you can unsubscribe by clicking the link at the bottom of this e-mail. I hope you find this informative and will forward to anyone else you think may be interested in receiving this update.
House Bill 1068 – would allow, but not require, the Kittitas County TV Reception Improvement District to provide an excise tax exemption to television owners receiving satellite television service. This bill has had a public hearing in the House Finance Committee, but the committee has not taken action yet.
House Bill 1255 – would reduce the costs of school construction by eliminating the prevailing wage requirement on projects receiving funds from the state. We have had a difficult time getting school bonds passed in our region because taxpayers and communities feel the proposed costs are outrageous. The prevailing wage law is pushing our school construction costs up about 30 to 35 percent. We heard testimony that the cost per square foot of some of the proposed projects in my district is between $260 and $360. No one wants to pay for that much for school construction no matter how much you support education. The bill did receive a public hearing in the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee. I would be surprised if the labor folks would let a prevailing wage modification bill pass.
House Bill 1417 – would make some technical fixes to irrigation district law including administration, public hearings, reviewing delinquent assessments and authorizing hydroelectric generation facilities in certain circumstances. This legislation is moving and has been passed by the House Local Government Committee.
Firearms legislation: House Bills 1729, 1730, 1731 and 1732 are bills Rep. Warnick and I have sponsored with the input of our Grant County prosecutor. They relate to the definition of gangs, firearm possession by gang members, drive by shootings and stronger sentencing. There are a number of bills out there this session dealing with firearms and school safety. At this point, we do not know what will happen with this issue as we move forward. It could involve stronger background check laws, more stringent penalties for people who have already committed serious crimes with guns (many who have committed murder with a firearm have prior offenses with weapons), looking closer at our mental health system, and many other factors related to this issue. But first and foremost is protection of the 2nd Amendment.
Jobs and economy
I was honored to be the only freshman legislator named as a chair or ranking member on a committee this session, the contentious labor committee on top of that. I am pleased to be the lead for my caucus on this committee, but it has been an eye-opening experience. I knew Washington state's rules and regulations were hard on business, but I now have firsthand knowledge as to why. The labor unions are pushing mandatory sick leave, paid family leave, prevailing wage on most projects and that is just a few of the job killing bills that have been brought before us.
No wonder our economy remains sluggish. What employers are willing to invest or hire in their business if the state continually looks at more laws and mandatory regulations? There is no certainty and no stability for our employers right now. That said, our caucus is pushing a job creation agenda. We are focused on streamlining licensing, permitting and inspections. We want to further the workers' compensation reforms, and regulatory reform needs to be addressed. I will provide another update in near future that details our legislation to improve the business climate in Washington.
In this day and age in which technology and communication are an integral part of our daily lives, I encourage you to take advantage of the many ways to get connected to information about your Washington State Legislature and the work I am doing on behalf of the 13th District. Here are some very important links to keep you informed:
- Capitol Report – A three-minute weekly radio program that discusses current issues of the 13th District and the state. Click here to sign up for my RSS podcast. You can also get all of the Washington House Republican Capitol Report programs on your iPhone and iPad through the iTunes store by clicking here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/capitol-report-washington/id579017734.
- Check out my Web site – This year, I have a new Web site: houserepublicans.wa.gov/manweller/. From this link, you can view get more information about me, the bills I've sponsored and view my news releases.
- Video updates – Next week, I will begin recording a new legislative video update every couple weeks during the session. You will be able to view my reports here on YouTube. We should have our first video posted next Thursday or Friday.
- Photos – Access my photo gallery here.
- Capitol Buzz – A daily electronic clip service of House Republicans. Click here to subscribe.
- The Current – An online publication from House Republicans to include you in the legislative process. Click here to subscribe.
- TVW – The state's own version of C-Span, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live. You can also watch on your computer, smartphone or tablet: www.tvw.org.
- Legislature's Web site – You can get bill reports, committee agendas and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature at: www.leg.wa.gov.
If you have any questions or concerns about any legislation or issues I have mentioned, please do not hesitate to contact me. If you are having any problems or need some assistance with a state agency or issue let me know and I will work to help you navigate through the bureaucracy.
It is an honor and a privilege to represent you in Olympia.