The 2017 legislative session

2017 legislative session • January 13, 2017 

The Current -- 2017 legislative session

Letter from Leadership 

The Current 2017-18

Dear Friend:  

The last time we connected was all the way back on March 29, when the special session ended. I hope this letter finds you well.

The 2017 legislative session is off and running. Like last year, the makeup of the state House is 50 Democrats and 48 Republicans. The state Senate is also closely divided, with Republicans holding a slim majority.

State lawmakers were sworn into office Monday. Following the Speaker of the House's opening-day remarks, I had an opportunity to share our vision and optimism for the legislative session with a speech on the House floor. I encourage you to watch it and welcome your feedback.

State of the State address, Republican response

Statewide elected officials -- including our new Republican State Treasurer Duane Davidson -- were sworn into office Wednesday. Gov. Inslee provided his State of the State address on this day, followed by the Republican response, which was delivered by Rep. Gina McCabe. She did a great job of articulating our legislative priorities, the challenges of rural communities and why some of the governor's proposals would be harmful to our economy. 

Education funding, student outcomes  

There is no question education funding will be the major issue this legislative session. To his credit, the governor said in his address: "There are many routes to the summit. My plan isn’t the only way." My view is this: It is going to take everyone at the table, vetting and refining ideas, to ensure every student in our state receives a quality education -- regardless of their ZIP code. I expect final solutions to be a hybrid of various ideas from all four caucuses.

Gina emphasized something important in our Republican response: "Success in and for our schools shouldn’t solely be measured by the amount of dollars in the system ... We must emphasize better student outcomes and closing the skills gap." She's right. All education-funding solutions must be focused on improving student outcomes.

Our legislative priorities  

Education funding is not the only issue we are focused on. Land use, water rights, private property rights, school siting, lifting regulatory burdens, and holding state agencies accountable are just a few of the things we will be working on in the 105-day legislative session.   

While we entered this year with a set of legislative priorities, every state lawmaker represents a diverse group of constituents and communities, with unique challenges and needs. We understand each proposed bill and amendment would mean something to someone. This is what makes your involvement in the legislative process so important. There are so many ways for you to participate in the process. 

Keeping you informed

In closing, I hope you find this weekly e-mail update informative. My goal is to provide you a window into your citizen Legislature and encourage you to be involved. That said, I respect your privacy. If for any reason you want to opt-out of receiving these updates, you can do so at the bottom of this e-mail.

In your service,

Rep. Dan Kristiansen
House Republican Leader
39th District
(360) 786-7967  

Rep. Jim Walsh

Freshman in focus: Rep. Jim Walsh  

We have nine new members in our caucus this year, including two who previously served in the state House. We will be featuring these new members in this e-mail update each week. 

Rep. Jim Walsh was elected in the 19th District in November. He was sworn in early on December 8 and was given House committee assignments later that month.

Jim is only the second Republican to represent the district in the last 70 years, which includes parts of Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Pacific and Wahkiakum counties. He and Rep. J.T. Wilcox recently met with The Daily News editorial board. You can learn more about what they discussed here.

You can find Jim's bio here.  

A contrast in optimism, fiscal approaches

The Associated Press held a Legislative Preview last week. I participated on the Leadership Panel, while our Floor Leader J.T. Wilcox represented us on the Education Funding Panel. I encourage you to watch both panels. You'll see a contrast in optimism and fiscal approaches, including the Democrats' continued push for major tax increases.

In fact, Gov. Inslee is proposing $5.3 billion in new taxes on energy, capital income, small businesses, vehicles and bottled water. We believe tax increases should always be the last resort. A recent poll of our state revealed people think education should be the Legislature's number one priority, but a majority of those surveyed do not support tax increases.

Seattle City Club

One of the most important pre-session events each year is the Seattle City Club Legislative Preview. This year, our Caucus Chair Shelly Short went into the heart of Seattle and talked about our legislative priorities, the challenges of the non-King County economy and what to expect from the 105-day legislative session. You can watch the event here.

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