Just six days left in the legislative session

2016 legislative session • March 4, 2016 

The Current

Letter from Leadership 

Dear Friend:  

Cherry blossoms on the Capitol campus are about to bloom, which can only mean one thing: Sine Die is near. In fact, just six days remain in our 60-day legislative session. 

This is the time of year when days, nights and weekends all seem to blend together. Monday was fiscal committee cutoff, and today was opposite House cutoff. We spent a lot of time on the House this week voting on Senate bills.

For an update on House bills that are dead or alive in the legislative process, click here. You can also find a bill status report in this link.  

Supplemental budgets

State lawmakers continue to work behind the scenes to reach compromises on the supplemental operating, capital and transportation budgets. These mid-course adjustments to our two-year spending plans are done in even-numbered years. 

There seems to be a lot of progress on the final versions of the capital and transportation budgets, but some differences on the operating budget remain between Republicans and Democrats. We continue to advocate for the Senate Republicans' initial approach: make necessary adjustments to state programs and services; do not raid the Budget Stabilization Account for non-emergencies; and do not raise taxes on Washingtonians. We need a true supplemental operating budget -- not a spending plan that would add new policies and taxes, and leave our state vulnerable for the inevitable rainy day. 

Senate Committee Services created this interesting chart depicting the operating budget as a universe. The illustration gives you an idea of how your tax dollars are used. It also provides an insight into the complexities of the budget decisions facing the Legislature. 

Lowering higher education costs  

As you probably know, Republicans led the efforts last year to reduce tuition at our public colleges and universities. We continue to look for ways to lower the costs of higher education in our state -- including text books and course materials.

Our higher education lead, Rep. Hans Zeiger, penned this thoughtful opinion piece that discusses how much work remains to be done to make college more affordable and improve higher education attainment. He also highlights the important role students play in shaping higher education policy. I encourage you to read it.  

The homestretch

The next edition of this e-newsletter will hopefully be the last one for 2016. Next week, I hope to tell you that state lawmakers finished their work on time and share with you the successes of your citizen Legislature.


Everything we do was put in perspective today when we learned that one of our friends in the lobbying community lost his three children in a tragic house fire. It is a very sad situation that has impacted everyone in Olympia in a profound way. Words cannot describe what we feel for him and his family right now. We had a moment of silence on the House floor this morning, and will continue to pray for him and his family in the days ahead. 

In your service,

Rep. Dan Kristiansen
House Republican Leader
39th District

K-12 education

The next steps for K-12 education spending

Our K-12 education lead, Rep. Chad Magendanz, continues with his video series on K-12 education policy and funding. His past videos include the topics of: answering the need for new teachers; the plan for McClearypublic charter schools; and the 2015-17 operating budget.

This week, Rep. Magendanz discusses the next steps for K-12 education funding, which includes Senate Bill 6195. You can learn more about this recently signed legislation here.   


A pro-growth strategy for our state 

In this article, the Wall Street Journal reveals the states with unemployment rates above prerecession levels. Washington is in this category. Yet, we don't need a national newspaper to tell us that too many Washingtonians are still unemployed or underemployed. In fact, 22 of our counties have unemployment rates of more than 7 percent.

Tri-City Herald: Middle of the pack isn’t good enough

This recent Tri-City Herald editorial explains why Washington is in the middle of the pack when it comes to education quality and outcomes, transportation efficiency and reliability, and economic vitality. This editorial infers what we've always said: Words and actions in Olympia matter. When new taxes, regulations and executive actions are proposed, it causes uncertainty amongst employers. Our businesses need more certainty if they are going to grow, hire and invest. 

Leadership to improve our business climate starts at the top in state government. The Tri-City Herald acknowledged this when it said: "Our governor may be one of the biggest threats to improvement with his ideas on fish consumption, minimum wage and water quality that could impact our state negatively."

Empowering families and strengthening communities

One of our legislative priorities is to empower families and strengthen communities. We have supported several bills the last two years that would ease financial burdens of families, create jobs and grow the economy. 

We have also opposed measures that would increase taxes, cause employers to relocate and threaten our state's few economic advantages. A stronger economy will ultimately mean stronger families, schools and communities.


More answers sought in DOC's early-release scandal

On February 25, the governor held a news conference to release the results of the investigation he requested into his Department of Corrections' early-release scandal. He highlighted his state agency's systemic errors, lax leadership and bad judgment, and outlined a few recommendations moving forward.

The governor also said responsibility for the errors started with former DOC Secretary Bernie Warner. Governor-elect Inslee re-appointed Mr. Warner in January 2013, who also served as DOC Secretary in the Gregoire administration. In his January 11, 2013 news release, Inslee lauded Mr. Warner's "creative partnerships that help both offenders and the community.”

Mr. Warner left his position as DOC Secretary last October. In announcing the move, the governor said, “In many ways he (Warner) has made Washington a model for how to run a corrections department and always put the safety of staff and the public first in his mind.”

Mr. Warner has met with the governor and Senate's investigators and claims to have not known about the sentencing error. The Senate Law and Justice Committee would like for him to testify in front of the committee, but Mr. Warner has yet to commit to it. 

The Senate also held a news conference last Thursday. Sens. Mike Padden and Steve O'Ban expressed their concerns with the governor's investigation, calling it "incomplete." This outline shares some of their concerns.

As this Spokesman-Review editorial from today highlights, this scandal has had tragic results. Last May, a 17-year-old young man named Ceasar Medina was allegedly murdered by a prisoner who had been mistakenly released early. The prisoner was released 12 days before the alleged crime, but was supposed to be in prison through August 10, 2015. Mr. Ceasar's mother announced Monday she is filing a $5 million claim against the state. 

The aforementioned editorial also highlights the fact that due to a recent trove of documents, the governor's investigation into this scandal "isn't complete." One of our legislative priorities is to safeguard communities. We believe we need all the information from both of these investigations to inform our policy and budget decisions for this state agency moving forward. 

This week


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