House floor action, higher education and allowing voices to be heard

2016 legislative session • January 29, 2016 

The Current

Letter from Leadership 

Dear Friend:  

As we move toward policy committee cutoff on February 5, public hearings on several bills were held in House committees this week. Wildfires, teacher recruitment, marijuana, public records, water quality, impaired driving, and textbook and course material costs are just a few of the topics considered. 

House floor action on Monday  

In the last five months, our state courts have thrown out two initiatives approved by voters: I-1366 (2/3rds vote of the Legislature to raise taxes) and I-1240 (public charter schools). While the state Supreme Court could still overrule a lower-court decision on I-1366, we don't expect that outcome.

During House floor action on Monday, we attempted to bring these issues -- and the will of the voters -- before the full body for a vote. Unfortunately, both of our efforts were denied. You can learn more about we what tried to accomplish in these two news releases

Allowing voices to be heard in the legislative process

One issue unfortunately not considered in a House committee this week deals with the new, controversial rules mandated from the Washington State Human Rights Commission (HRC) on public restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms and showers. The chair of the House Judiciary Committee won't allow a public hearing on the issue and went on the radio recently to explain her decision.

We have heard from hundreds of concerned constituents who have told us they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. They also want to know about the approval process and how an unelected state agency could determine such significant public policy. When the HRC came before a House committee last Friday, its executive director couldn't answer basic questions on the process followed. You can watch her testimony in this video.

We understand the concerns that have been brought to our attention and have some of the same questions. In fact, one of our members has made a request to the HRC for public records in an attempt to find answers to these questions. 

Fortunately, the Senate is responding to constituent concerns and seeking public input. In the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on Wednesday, a public hearing was held on Senate Bill 6443. The one-page bill would tell the HRC to repeal WAC 162-32-060 in its entirety. You can watch that public hearing, which included thoughtful input on both sides of the legislation, here

For your information, House Bill 2935 is the House companion to the Senate measure. You can comment on the legislation here.  

Lowering the costs of higher education

Last year, Republicans led the charge to lower tuition at our state's public institutions of higher education. We continue to look for ways to lower the costs of higher education. Below you will find three bills our members are sponsoring aimed at lowering the costs of textbook and course materials for students. 

It's hard to believe we are through week three of the legislative session. Thanks for being a part of it.

In your service,

Rep. Dan Kristiansen
House Republican Leader
39th District

Rep. Ed Orcutt

Requiring a two-thirds majority vote to raise taxes

A King County Superior Court judge declared I-1366 unconstitutional on Jan. 21. The next day, we introduced House Joint Resolution 4215. Sponsored by Rep. Ed Orcutt (pictured), the measure would send an amendment to the state constitution to voters that would require a two-thirds majority vote of the Legislature to raise taxes.

Through a procedural motion on the House floor Monday, we tried to place HJR 4215 on the Second Reading Floor Calendar in an attempt to force a full House vote on the legislation. The procedural move failed on a 49-48 roll-call vote. The failed vote meant the measure itself could not be voted on by the full body.

Regardless of how the state Supreme Court rules on I-1366, we believe the Legislature should move forward with legislation that would send a constitutional amendment to voters. Voters have told us six times since 1993 that this is what they want. We will continue to advocate for this position until voters can have the final say on the matter. 

Rep. Jesse Young

Lowering the costs of higher education

Following last year's Republican-led efforts to lower tuition at our state's public colleges and universities, we have introduced three bills this year that could lower textbook and course material costs for students. 

House Bill 2780, sponsored by Rep. Jesse Young, (pictured right) would provide incentives for the use of open-source instructional materials.

House Bill 2680 would establish the Washington open education pilot grant program for four-year institutions of higher education. The measure is sponsored by Rep. Melanie Stambaugh,

House Bill 2796, sponsored by Rep. Luanne Van Werven, would provide students with the costs of required course materials during registration.

All of the bills received public hearings and support in the House Higher Education Committee earlier today. You can find our news release from yesterday here.

Our higher-education lead shares his perspectives on TVW

Rep. Hans Zeiger (pictured left), ranking Republican on the House Higher Education Committee, sat down with Anita Kissée of TVW last week to discuss higher-education issues. You can watch the interview here.


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