Friends and Neighbors,
The House and Senate are still moving forward with different budget proposals. We need to move quickly, however, as time is starting to run out on making any significant budget reductions for the remainder of the 2011 budget, which ends June 30. We'll know more next week as the Senate is poised to pass their version early in the week. Most likely, the final version will have to go to a conference committee where budget leaders from the four caucuses go to hammer out their differences. We need to take care of the budget imbalance the state has for the rest of this fiscal year before we can begin tackling the larger, $4.6 billion shortfall we have for the 2011-13 biennium. I'll keep you posted on these developments.
This week was a very busy week for me as several bills I've sponsored received public hearings:
HB 1204 – Requiring assessors to give notice of the true and fair value of real property regardless of whether there was a change in value. My bill will make it easier for property owners to challenge the assessor's valuation of their property. (2/1/11 in the House Ways & Means Committee)
HB 1239 – Allowing the department of revenue (DOR) to issue a notice of lien to secure payment of delinquent taxes in lieu of a warrant. This bill is often referred to as the “Catch 22” bill. If a contractor owes taxes and DOR places a lien on ALL their property (including business/home), the contractor is unable to get bonded and insured to do more work, and therefore has no means to pay the back taxes. My bill would allow DOR to place a lien on a specific piece of property, thereby freeing up the contractor to go through the licensing and bonding process, which, in turn, will allow them to secure work to pay the back taxes owed. (2/1/11 in the House Ways & Means Committee)
HB 1284 – Adding a requirement to sexual health education to include elements of and consequences for conviction of sexual offenses where the victim is a minor. This bill simply says that if a school teaches sex education, the curriculum must include information on sexual offenses against minors. We've made our children aware of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies, but they also need to be aware of the legal ramifications that can change their lives forever. To view my testimony in the committee on this bill, click here and scroll the video timer forward to the 24 minute mark. (2/3/11 in the House Education Committee)
HB 1157 – Regarding the forest practices permitting system. A Forest Practices Approval (FPA) must be obtained from the Department of Natural Resources to conduct forest practices such as forest road building, tree thinning, certain vegetation control methods, or tree harvest. My bill will allow an FPA to be issued for a five-year period instead of a the current two-year period. This will allow the small forest landowners more flexibility – and more efficiency – in managing forest lands. (2/4/11 in the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee)
HB 1161 – Regarding the payment of compensation to small forest landowners participating in the Forest Riparian Easement Program (FREP). This bill will help small forest landowners to be reimbursed more quickly and fairly by the FREP for lost timber value due to regulations. (2/4/11 in the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee)
My proposal to provide a moratorium on agency rule making (HB 1156) is scheduled for a public hearing at 8:00 am, Feb. 9 in the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee
I also wanted to let you know of my appointment to the Joint Legislative Audit Review Committee (JLARC). This committee works to make state government operations more effective, efficient and accountable. I'm excited to be a part of this effort and look forward to the challenge.
I again want to invite you to one of our 18th District Town Halls coming up next month (see box above). This is a great opportunity to meet with your 18th District legislators and talk about the issues you're concerned about.
As always, I welcome your questions and concerns. Please feel free to contact my office at any time. It is an honor serving you in Olympia.