Dear Friends and Neighbors,
There are about three weeks left in the 60-day legislative session. On Thursday we passed the House of Origin cutoff – meaning all House bills must be voted out of the House, and all Senate bills must be voted out of the Senate before 5 p.m. for them to continue this session. This does not include bills deemed necessary to implement the budget. House committees are now considering Senate bills, and Senate committees are hearing House bills.
With the cutoff, many bills died, some good and bad. This email updates highlights some of that legislation, and touches on a couple issues we are still working on.
My House Bill 2442, which would create the “students protecting students program” by using a mobile app, did not make it out of the House of Representatives before the House of Origin cutoff date. However, we are working to include it as an amendment to another school safety measure that is still moving through the process. With another awful, tragic school shooting rocking our nation last week we need to make our schools safe. Students would have a fast, secure, and anonymous method of reporting threatening or harmful activities under House Bill 2442.
Battling wildfiresHouse Bill 2175, would exempt certain activities from the requirement to prepare an environmental impact study under current State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) rules.
House Bill 2561 – The commissioner of public lands would direct the wildland fire advisory committee to review, analyze, and make recommendations on the wildfire prevention, response, and suppression activities. The committee would also evaluate the existing fire mobilization process and identify potential efficiencies or other reforms that may lead to a more effective, coordinated wildfire response.
House Bill 2733 Directs the Department of Natural Resources to create a prescribed fire program and enumerates elements the program must cover, including a nonmandatory prescribed burn manager certification program.
Continued efforts to strengthen vocational education
As you know I am a huge proponent of vocational education. We recently passed House Bill 1600 to increase the career and college readiness of our public school students. Not all students need a four-year degree to be successful. The bill would create the Work-Integrated Learning Initiative. The purpose of the Initiative is to promote work-integrated learning experiences for students by providing:
- an opportunity for students to engage in work-based academic programs, such as internships, externships, and apprenticeships with public and private sector employers; and
- a framework for the development and replication of successful work-integrated learning programs throughout the state.
This is a bill we passed last year, but the Senate had their own version and a final agreement could not be reached. We passed this year's version 98-0 and we are hopeful the Senate will support it.
Kittitas rodeo grounds
With just about three weeks remaining in the legislative session a lot of the focus will be on reaching an agreement on our three supplemental budgets – operating, capital and transportation. I am working to get funding in the supplemental capital budget for the Kittitas rodeo grounds.
A bad union bill
It wouldn't be a legislative session without some bad bills. Last week, House Democrats passed House Bill 2751, which essentially sanctions the theft of a public employee's paycheck. The legislation would allow unions to automatically deduct dues from a public employee's paycheck, unless that employee provides written authorization against it. Click on the photo below to watch my floor speech.
I want to thank the MomsRising organization for recognizing my efforts on the paid family and medical leave bill last year – Senate Bill 5975. The new law offers eligible workers 12 weeks paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child, or for the serious medical condition of the worker or the worker's family member, beginning in 2020. An additional two weeks may be used if there is a serious health condition with a pregnancy. The legislation was a result of extensive bicameral and bipartisan negotiations. For my work I received a framed MomsRising onesie.
Telephone town hall
Sen. Judy Warnick, Rep. Tom Dent and I held a telephone town hall last night. We had more than 300 people on the line at one time. We talked about legislation related to wildfires, school safety, education, firearms, water and other issues. We appreciate all those who participated. Since the 13th Legislative District covers such a large geographic area, the telephone town hall is an effective tool for us to reach constituents across all four counties at one time.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, concerns or comments about the bills or issues mentioned in this email update or before the Legislature. My email address is email@example.com, and my phone number is (360) 786-7808.