Letter from Olympia

Senator Hans Zeiger 25th District Letter from Olympia
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With Reps. Kelly Chambers and Chris Gildon and the Pierce County Daffodil Festival Royal Court

Letter from Olympia

Dear Neighbor,

This week, the Senate passed its versions of the supplemental operating and capital budgets.

I supported the capital budget proposal. This proposal includes four requests that I made for our district: $328,000 for The Farm at Franklin Pierce, an agricultural education program sponsored by the Franklin Pierce School District in Midland; $217,000 for facility planning and acquisition for the Puyallup Food Bank; $150,000 for maternity home expansion for New Beginnings Homes in Puyallup; and $5,000 for historic marker restoration in front of Maplewood Elementary in Puyallup. I am hopeful that we will be able to secure these funds after the capital budget is negotiated between the House and Senate.

When it comes to the Senate version of the supplemental operating budget, I believe that it is more responsibly crafted than the House version, but I voted against it for one reason: it does not include property tax relief. With about $1.5 billion of additional funding beyond what the legislature budgeted for in 2019, we can afford to provide property tax relief to the people of Washington. I hear from seniors in our community who are desperate for property tax relief and are having to make difficult financial choices as a result of their tax burden. I supported a floor amendment which would have set aside additional revenue growth for the purpose of a property tax cut. And, it would have done so without requiring any budget cuts, only impacting future revenue growth. Unfortunately, this amendment was rejected. You can see my remarks on the Senate floor here

With that said, I am grateful that the Senate’s supplemental operating budget includes two of the priorities I have been asking for relating to homelessness and the opioid crisis. The bill includes my proposal for homelessness diversion to refocus government on getting people out of homelessness the moment they enter the coordinated entry system, whether that means paying a month’s rent or reconnecting people with a relative who can take them in in another state and paying for travel costs. The bill also includes additional funding for the criminal justice treatment account, which I have been pushing for. The criminal justice treatment account allows local jails to pay for much-needed substance use treatment, including medically assisted treatment.

Fentanyl penalties (Senate Bill 6022)

This legislation would add fentanyl to the list of drugs for which a person can be found guilty of endangerment with a controlled substance if a child or vulnerable adult is exposed to, ingests, inhales or has any contact with the drug. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.

Every day, Washingtonians are suffering from opioid addictions, and fentanyl is one of the most dangerous drugs ever. This drug has risen rapidly in the past several years. It is cheaper to manufacture than heroin, and it is often mixed in with heroin. Three teenagers in King County died from fentanyl overdoses within a three month period last year. Our laws have not kept up with this dangerous drug. When criminal manufacturers and dealers of fentanyl are exposing children and vulnerable adults to the drug, they should be held accountable at the same level as those who manufacture meth.

This bill passed the Senate unanimously and was heard in the House Public Safety Committee this week.

 

Spring blade knives (Senate Bill 5782)

This bill would legalize the possession and sale of spring blade knives in Washington State. Many states are repealing old laws prohibiting spring blade knives. Many of these old laws were based on a notion propagated by Hollywood movies of the 1950s and 1960s that such knives were used by gang members. Yet spring blades can be helpful for people with disabilities and degenerative diseases, and they can be a useful tool for workers in the construction trades.

Today, only ten states have laws on the books banning spring blade knives. A knife manufacturer from our district approached me about sponsoring this bill, and it is making its way through the legislative process. The bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support and was heard and passed out of the House Committee on Civil Rights and Judiciary this week.

Homelessness

This week I participated in a news conference detailing what’s being done in 2020 to address homelessness. Click here to watch!

Legislative pages

This week, I sponsored Holly Pierce, a ninth-grade home school student from Puyallup, as a Senate page. Holly is involved with the Tacoma Youth Chorus, Hilltop Artists and Harbor Wildwatch.

The Senate Page Program provides an opportunity for Washington students to spend a week working at the Legislature. Students transport documents between offices, as well as deliver messages and mail. Pages spend time in the Senate chamber and attend page school to learn about parliamentary procedure and the legislative process. Students also draft their own bills and engage in a mock session.

page holly

Contact Me

As always, I value hearing directly from you. If you would like to contact me, please call, email and again, stop by if you’re in Olympia.

Email: Hans.Zeiger@leg.wa.gov

Phone: (360) 786-7648

Thanks for the privilege of serving as your state senator.

All the best,

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