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We are in the seventh week of the 2017 legislative session. The cutoff date to pass bills out of their respective policy committees was last Friday, Feb. 17.

This email update will give you an overview of just some of the things I have been working on this session. Bills that are still moving through the process, and others I am disappointed were not voted out of committee before the policy committee cutoff date. I will continue to look for other ways to get those policies adopted. Please let me know if you have any questions on the issues mentioned in this update or others before the Legislature.

Constitutional Amendment – no state income tax

It is no secret many in the tax and spend political circles would like Washington state to adopt an income tax. Last week I introduced House Joint Resolution 4207, proposing an amendment to the state Constitution to prohibit a state income tax.

Voters in Washington state have rejected an income tax nine times. While voters have been saying “no” to an income tax for about 80 years, the shift seems to be from getting an income tax approved at the ballot, to possibly finding a sympathetic court to come up with a ruling that would support an income tax.

Our state Supreme Court has indirectly called for one. We even saw the city of Olympia try to test the waters last year and pass their own income tax. We need to take this out of the court’s hands, because we know if it comes down to them, the Washington state taxpayer loses.

School safety legislation

My colleagues and I in the House Republican Caucus have been working on a school safety measure for three years. This year I was the prime-sponsor of House Bill 1310, which is designed to prevent school shootings or violence by creating a program modeled after the national Safe2Tell program. The bill did receive a public hearing but was not voted out of committee.

The legislation would provide students with a safe, anonymous reporting system to a teacher or administrator about concerns of school-based unsafe or violent activities, or the threat of said activities.

The legislation would provide students with a safe, anonymous reporting system to a teacher or administrator about concerns of school-based unsafe or violent activities, or the threat of said activities.

Rep. Matt Manweller in the Appropriations Committee.I am not sure why the majority party chose not to move the bill. As a father of two children, I want to know my children will be as safe as possible when they go off to school. I am sure other parents feel this way as well. I will continue to work on finding other ways to get this program up and running.

Expanding vocational education

I am a big proponent of expanding career and technical education. We have to move away from the mindset that everyone needs a 4-year degree. There are good paying jobs out there but our students are not getting the real-world skills they need to take on these jobs. My bill, House Bill 1756, would have given those who are in the private sector credit for their industry experience if they wanted to come back and teach vocational education. Unfortunately, the House Education Committee chair failed to move this bill out of committee as well.

Increasing State Need Grant opportunities

Under my House Bill 1033, approximately 500 additional students could receive a State Need Grant. It would have increased State Need Grant opportunities by limiting how much money goes to more expensive, private institutions and provided more opportunity to the poorest kids who go to the least expensive schools. The bill did not make it out of the Higher Education Committee.

Also not making it out of the Higher Education Committee was House Bill 1362, my updated version of the “Academic Bill of Rights” that would help ensure our college campuses are a place of rigorous, free debate that respects the marketplace of ideas.

In the past few years, we have seen a disturbing increase in university policies around the country that restrict students’ free speech and due process rights. Whether it is political correctness gone wrong or hyper-zealous school activists, too often First Amendment rights are being curtailed in the name of ‘safe spaces.’ I was hoping this bill would have continued through the process so we could address this problem on our college campuses.

Bills still alive

Some bills did survive the policy committee cutoff:

House Bill 1468 – People may not know, but state agencies/offices routinely come to legislators to sponsor bills on issues they need help with. Secretary of State Kim Wyman wants to create a consistent voter registration deadline of 11 days before an election. This bill would accomplish that. Currently, there is a 29-day registration deadline for online and mail-in registrations, and an 8-day deadline for in-person registrations at county election offices.

House Bill 1449 – This bill would clarify dunk tanks and bounce house waterslides are not to be treated like a public pool. The local health department was treating them like public pools and levying fines and fees as well as requiring permits. That is tough on small community festivals and charity organizations trying to raise a little money.

House Bill 1755 – Gives employers a notification about third party settlements. A settlement may be less than the claim costs and affect an employer’s experience rating. This will help employers be prepared.

I also have a couple bills still in fiscal committees that may be considered as we move forward.

Rep. Manweller during the joint session on Jan. 11.McCleary debate

House Democrats are expected to bring their education funding plan to the House floor in the next day or two. I have many concerns with their plan. Not only would it cost $11 billion per biennium, but they have failed to identify which taxes they would raise to fund it.

They maintain a 24 percent levy lid, which the rich school districts will continue to get richer and the poor districts poorer. If the state is going to dole out billions of new dollars for basic education, then districts shouldn’t need that much levy authority. We need to lower the levy limit to 10 percent.

Their plan also has no reforms in place to ensure funding for materials, supplies and operating costs (MSOC) is being used as intended, and not going toward teacher salaries.

And, if we are going to require reports and/or performance measures from our school districts we need to follow up to make sure goals and performance standards are being met. With the dollars must come reforms.

House Republicans are offering amendments and starting to work in some of their ideas into the discussions and that will continue as we move forward.

Sincerely,


Matt Manweller

State Representative Matt Manweller
13th Legislative District
RepresentativeMattManweller.com
470 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
matt.manweller@leg.wa.gov
360-786-7808 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000