The Current | April 17, 2015

2015 legislative session • April 17, 2015 • Day 96  

The Current

Letter from Leadership 

Dear Friend: 

The end of the legislative session is quickly approaching. When state lawmakers return Monday, we will have exactly seven days to complete our work on time. That continues to be the goal. Both chambers have passed a lot of bills, but several of the large issues -- including final versions of the operating, transportation and capital budgets -- still need to be worked out.  

Transporting hazardous materials

How our state regulates the transport of hazardous materials continues to garner a lot of attention in the Legislature. Senate Bill 5057, which deals with this issue, passed the House on a 58-40 vote this week after House Democrats made substantial changes to it.

Every House Republican voted for an amendment to this bill, authored by Rep. Matt Shea, that would have: preserved the barrel tax at its current rate; fully funded spill prevention, preparedness and response programs; protected communities; and prevented an increase in fuel prices. It represents the right balance of not compromising our state's economic competitiveness or public safety. Unfortunately, our amendment was defeated. We remain hopeful our solutions will be a part of the final legislation.

Operating budget negotiations

Operating budget negotiations are ongoing. Some of the major differences continue to be tax increases, the level of overall spending, whether to freeze or lower college tuition, and how to provide public employees with pay raises. This infographic shows a side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate proposals. 

One point of contention continues to be that House Democrats say they want to raise taxes by $1.5 billion, but refuse to vote on the actual legislation to implement them. For years many of these state lawmakers have said how unfair and regressive our state's tax system is, but then don't actually act on the legislation that would change the system. This has led many to believe they don't have the 50 votes necessary. The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus has compared the House Democrats' approach to a bounced check. 

Both chambers -- Republicans and Democrats -- support  making major investments in our schools, early childhood education, college students, mental health system, and public employees. It will be unfortunate if we head into a special session over the insistence of raising taxes by $1.5 billion.

State Auditor Troy Kelley indicted on 10 counts

A grand jury returned a 10-count indictment against Troy Kelley on Thursday. The state auditor is being accused of filing false tax returns, making false declarations, obstructing, and possessing stolen property. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty and we need to respect the judicial process, but these allegations are serious and have led to numerous calls for his resignation. This is a very sad episode for our state and Mr. Kelley's family.

You can learn more about the indictments in this U.S. Department of Justice news release. You can also watch Mr. Kelley's news conference from yesterday here.

In your service,

Rep. Dan Kristiansen
House Republican Leader
39th District


House Democrats roll out transportation tax package   

The House Democrats rolled out their transportation tax package this week. They are proposing to raise the state gas tax by 11.7 cents over three years: 5 cents in 2015; 4.2 cents in 2016; and 2.5 cents in 2017. They also want to increase or impose a variety of fees. An analysis of the taxes and fees can be found here

The legislation passed out of the House Transportation Committee Tuesday, but it is unclear if or when it will come to the House floor. The House Republicans have assigned a negotiating team focused on transportation reforms and accountability.

For details on the House and Senate proposals, visit this nonpartisan Legislative Evaluation and Accountability Program Committee website

Rep. Bob McCaslin

Rep. Bob McCaslin: From the classroom to the House 

Rep. Bob McCaslin's first passion is teaching. But when a different type of public service called him, he ended up following in his father's footsteps.

Rep. McCaslin, the son of late Sen. Bob McCaslin, has been a public school teacher for more than 30 years. He and his wife, Heather, have a son and daughter. You can learn more about Rep. McCaslin in this video.


Marijuana bill heads to governor's desk 

A bill that would establish new regulations for the state’s medical marijuana system has passed the Legislature and is headed to the governor's desk. Senate Bill 5052 would: 

  • roll the medical marijuana system in with the I-502 licensing structure through a medical marijuana endorsement for state-licensed retailers; 
  • increase the number of state-licensed marijuana retailers by establishing a merit-based application process;
  • establish an "opt-in" medical marijuana authorization database through the state Department of Health; 
  • retire the current medical marijuana authorization system on July 1, 2016, and require the database to be operational by then; 
  • prohibit the sole purpose of a healthcare provider's practice being authorizations for medical marijuana and require a permanent office location; 
  • decrease the amount of marijuana, infused products, concentrates, and plants patients are allowed to possess, but allow a healthcare provider to give authorization for increased amounts;
  • add Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury to the list of approved conditions for which a medical marijuana authorization may be issued; and
  • require parental permission for a minor (under 18) to use medical marijuana.

This infographic from the Seattle P-I shows state marijuana sales, revenue, licenses and other information. 

This week


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