Sen. Ann Rivers' Legislative Update - March 17, 2016 Edition


March 17, 2016

spring capitol

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As you have no doubt heard, this year’s regular legislative session ended as scheduled March 10, but because our work was not finished by the end of the day, Governor Inslee called the Legislature into a 30-day “special” session, which began immediately.

Considering the tax-laden budget proposal that the House Democrats continue to cling to, I am frustrated but not surprised.


'Don't make me pull this car over'

Just before calling for a special session, the governor made good on his threat to veto 27 bills that had been sent to his desk for his signature. His reasoning, he claimed, was to motivate legislators into finishing budget talks.

What a slap in the face to those people who brought these ideas to Olympia and spent hours meeting with lawmakers and testifying in committees. In some way, each and every one of these bills was important to someone in our state, whether it was the bill to eliminate obstacles for higher education students with disabilities, or the food-safety bill championed by Asian communities, or one of the other 25 he vetoed.

I find it particularly ironic that a number of these apparently meaningless bills were requested by the very agencies that the governor oversees.

The fact that two of the vetoed bills were prime-sponsored by me is frustrating, but I fail to see how the governor threatening to not do his job is going to influence the process. If anything, this bill rejection may prove to be the catalyst for the Legislature to come together with the singular goal of overriding his action.


Local students participate in Senate Page Program

Pages week 7
Lt. Gov. Brad Owen and I bookend Justin Krejcha and Cole VanderMaas

During the seventh week of the regular session I had the pleasure of getting to know two local students and sponsoring them as Senate pages: Justin Krejcha, a junior at Mountain View High School in Vancouver and Cole VanderMaas, a sophomore at Hockinson High School in Brush Prairie. They were here during a particularly hectic week in the Senate with a lot of action on the chamber floor. Justin and Cole did a great job of delivering messages, following instructions and assisting as needed.

Last page
Benjamin Howard and I at the Senate rostrum

CAM Academy sophomore Benjamin Howard spent a week working as a student page during the eighth week of the session. In addition to having great taste in eyewear, Benjamin is a bright young man who was an asset to our work in Olympia.

If you know a student who would be interested in this unique opportunity, more information and an application can be found here. As my former pages can tell you, the week in Olympia flies by quickly. If you have questions regarding openings for this program, my office may be able to assist you as well.


IRS Free File Program available now

If you have not yet filed your federal tax returns for 2015 and have an adjusted gross income of $62,000 or less, I encourage you to visit and take advantage of free tax preparation and e-filing services. A coalition of 13 industry-leading tax software companies have partnered with the IRS in an effort to help low and middle-income folks prepare, complete and e-file their federal tax returns online.


Not quite back home

The 2016 supplemental budget approved by the Senate on Feb. 26 made small changes to the underlying budget and was viewed by many as a "go home" budget. The House, however, offered a proposal that requires tax increases to balance -- tax increases that their members can't and won't approve. That put us at odds from the beginning.

Negotiations are ongoing, but until the House Democrats consider a truly supplemental budget, it will be difficult to reach an agreement.

As a result, I'm still in Olympia more than I would like. However, if you have a question or concern I hope you'll contact my office either by phone or through email. If you'd like to meet for coffee, I'm also happy to find a time when I am home to visit with you!


I serve you and I want your state capitol to be an open and inviting place.


Give me a call, send me a letter or email or visit me in my office.


I look forward to hearing from you!





(360) 786-7634