Today is the 101st day of the
2017 legislative session -- just four days away from what should be the end of our
work this year. Instead, the Legislature will likely be called back next Tuesday
into a “special session,” because the Senate and House of Representatives have
not approved a final budget to pay for the next two years of state-government
Our Senate majority did its
job, putting the Legislature on a path to wrap up on time – meaning the end of
Sunday – by proposing a balanced, sustainable no-new-taxes operating budget. As
part of that budget, we passed a fully funded education plan that would
increase resources for our schools, while lowering the tax burden on most
Our Democrat colleagues who
control the House of Representatives, however, are demanding more tax dollars
from our families and employers even though state government is already expected
to collect $3 billion in additional revenue with no change in tax rates.
The budget the House passed is
already $11 billion out of balance over four years, because House majority
leaders don’t even have the votes to pass their $8 billion in proposed new
taxes and other budget bills. For that reason the Senate and House are likely
to end the regular session early, this Friday.
I will continue to work for a
responsible, no-new taxes budget that meets our state’s most pressing needs.
As always, if there is anything
I can do for you, please write, call or send me an e-mail. It is an honor to
serve you in Olympia.
Is the Senate Transportation plan good for the Tri-Cities?
Since 2014, Senator Mike Padden and I have worked to
increase the opportunities for public participation in the legislative process.
We recently requested an update from Senate and House administrators on
progress to enable testimony from places outside of the Capitol, especially on
our side of the Cascade Mountains.
The responses could not be more different. The House of
Representatives failed to respond, while the Senate provided a detailed
report about the successes of its pilot
to the hard work of our Senate administration and committee chairs, more
citizens are able to participate in the legislative process from locations in
the Tri-Cities, Moses Lake and Spokane instead of having to make the dangerous,
time-consuming and costly trip to Olympia via the mountain passes in the middle
failure of the House to respond in kind to the needs of these citizens is
discouraging. Quite frankly, it is unacceptable. We must open the legislative
process – in both the Senate and the House – to more Washingtonians, and the
reluctance to do so on the part of the House must change.
the governor signed my bill to provide certainty to ranchers, farmers and
others who lease lands from the state Department of Natural Resources.
Bill 5051, which passed unanimously in the Senate and the House of
Representatives, will require DNR to provide at least 180 days’ written notice
and include documentation regarding the termination in any early-termination
provision included in an agricultural or grazing state-land lease. It also
requires DNR to provide the lessee with written documentation showing that
leased land is part of plan for better use, land exchange or sale. The bill
will go into effect 90 days after the adjournment of our regular session.
began working on this bill after a group of Benton County wheat farmers had
their leases terminated early, with little notice. These hard working farmers
did nothing wrong; they correctly followed the provisions in their lease with
DNR. They purchased equipment and supplies in anticipation of working that land
and had the rug pulled out from under them.
glad we were able to find a solution going forward, in the form of this new
The Evans Family from Richland
I often use this section of my e-newsletter to highlight
visitors from our legislative district, most of whom are in Olympia
representing an organization or specific interest. But you don’t have to have a
specific agenda to stop by and say hello while in Olympia.
The Evans family from Richland just happened to be in town,
touring the Capitol building, when they bumped into my aide, Grant Woods. As it
looks like we will soon be starting a special session, there is still time for
you to visit our 8th District team here in Olympia. We’d love to see you!
Fed up with high number of suicides in the Tri-Cities,
senator fights back
April 15, 2017 | Hannah
Scott, CBS KIRO 7 - Seattle
A rash of teen suicides in the Tri-Cities
led a state lawmaker on a mission to figure out what was wrong with mental
health care for children in Washington state.
Sharon Brown says she was heartbroken when she heard about the high number
of suicides in her area.
“In the Tri-Cities there have been way too
many suicides,” she said. “One suicide is one too many. In Benton County alone
in 2015 there were — just for kids between the ages of 15 to 24 — seven
suicides. And in Franklin County there were four suicides.”
In that same year, if you include adults,
there were 51 suicides just in the Tri-Cities.
…Brown decided it was time to have a
community sit-down to figure out what was going on. She met with mental health
professionals, police, parents who’d lost kids to suicide, and family doctors.
One of those doctors brought a small but significant barrier to light;
specifically involving the nearly 900,000 children on Medicaid in our state.
here to read the full story.