Just six days left

2018 legislative session • March 2, 2018 

The Current -- 2017 legislative session

Dear Friend:

There are just six days left in the 60-day session. Since our last email update, the House and Senate passed their respective supplemental operating, capital and transportation budgets. These budgets are now being negotiated. Final proposals will be put forward next week. 

In addition to supplemental budgets, other major issues hang in the balance. Bills relating to property tax relief, car tab costs, a capital gains income tax, McCleary/education funding, school safety, broadband, public employee unions, the death penalty, and other issues are still in play. One good piece of news: The governor's carbon tax proposal is dead.

Veto of the Legislative Public Records Act

Last week, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 6617 -- the Legislative Public Records Act. The governor vetoed the legislation last night.  

I joined many of my House Republicans colleagues in voting for this bill because it would have preserved constituent privacy which is being threatened by a Thurston County Superior Court ruling. The measure would have also created more transparency by requiring state lawmakers to disclose their calendars and communications with lobbyists. For years, state lawmakers have been advised that these records were exempt from disclosure law.   

Every House Republican signed this letter that was delivered to the governor last night. We are united in our belief that constituent privacy must be protected -- including victims and whistleblowers. And we remain committed to finding a solution that balances more transparency with protecting constituents. 

If you want more background on this issue, including letters from the Senate Democrats, House Democrats and media, please visit this website.  

Senate Bill 6199: Bad for caregivers and families  

The House debated controversial Senate Bill 6199 on Thursday. This measure could force in-home caregivers to join a union and pay dues, even if they had previously opted out. Many of these caregivers are taking care of family members and have said they cannot afford these dues.

Our members provided passionate speeches on the House floor in defense of these caregivers and their families. This radio release provides a sampling of our remarks. You can watch my speech here.

This is an ugly and unfortunate bill, which is why all House Republicans took the unique action of not voting on it. That resulted in the measure passing the House on a 50-0 vote.

KING TV highlighted a caregiver's opposition to the bill in this compelling story. This editorial from The Seattle Times also sheds light on the problems with the legislation.

The last few days of session should be interesting. I look forward to sharing more information with you next week.

In your service,

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

Rep. Joe Schmick

Leadership Podcast: Rep. Joe Schmick

In our second-to-last Leadership Podcast of the year, Rep. Joe Schmick enters the studio to discuss his role as Vice-Caucus Chair, innovations as Washington State University, agricultural diversity in our state, being away from home during session and why his open-door policy is important. You can listen to the interview here

Operating budget

The supplemental operating budget passed on a party-line, 50-46 vote on Monday night. Many House Republican amendments were adopted, but some were not. Our amendments to help certain school districts with transportation costs, fund school resource officers and provide retired teachers with a benefit increase were defeated by House Democrats. This was disappointing.

Our budget lead, Rep. Bruce Chandler, released this statement following the vote. He highlighted some of our concerns -- including the fact it would increase state spending by $629 million in the 2017-19 budget cycle and $1 billion in the 2019-21 budget cycle. We also do not support the House Democrats' continued push for a capital gains income tax.

Final negotiations are underway and a vote will be taken next week. Our hope is this proposal does not raise taxes and includes meaningful property-tax relief this year for Washingtonians.  

Transportation budget

The supplemental transportation budget passed on a bipartisan 95-3 vote on Tuesday. The proposal would increase the 2017-19 transportation budget from $8.5 billion to $9.3 billion.

Capital programs would be increased by $668 million, with $458 million in reappropriations. Operating programs would increase by $151 million.

We offered 11 amendments, with five being accepted. Two of our rejected amendments would have eliminated I-405 express toll lanes and removed funding for a prospective high-rail project and re-appropriated it for the U.S. 2 Trestle interchange. 

We also introduced two amendments that would have provided meaningful Sound Transit car-tab relief for residents in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties and established more fiscal oversight over Sound Transit, but they were scoped and not allowed to run.

Capital budget

The supplemental capital budget also passed on a 95-3 vote on Tuesday. It would appropriate $207 million in bond revenue to projects statewide and leave $4 million for future adjustments.

Highlights of the proposal include $42.8 million for the School Construction Assistance Program due to additional approved local bond measures. It would also provide $17.8 million for improvements at our state hospitals and facilities, and $11.3 million for behavioral health community capacity.

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