Friends and Neighbors,
In my last e-newsletter, I told you about the House majority party's proposal to increase the state gas tax by 10 cents, along with an assortment of other tax and fee increases. My House Republican colleagues and I say that before the Legislature takes more tax dollars from your pockets, we need to address the problems and the waste in our state's transportation system. We say, “Fix it before you fund it!”
Last Thursday, I and my House Republican colleagues released an action plan of economic and transportation reforms that would: create jobs, make gas tax dollars go further, ensure accountability and protect taxpayers. Here's a quick look at our plan:
- House Bill 1236 would require state agencies to make a permit decision in 90 days or the permit is granted.
- House Bill 1619 would suspend Growth Management Act requirements in counties with persistent unemployment, where regulations often stand in the way of economic development.
Making gas tax dollars go further
- House Bill 1985 would exempt future state transportation projects from state and local sales and use tax.
- House Bill 1986 would require WSDOT to report to the Legislature on engineering errors and mistakes that exceed $500,000. The report would need to explain how it happened, who was responsible, what disciplinary steps were taken, and what actions the transportation secretary recommends to avoid similar errors in the future.
- House Bill 1984 would limit WSDOT's tort liability based on the amount of the department's actual fault, instead of allowing plaintiffs to recover the entire judgment from the deeper pockets of the state.
- House Bill 1989 would limit bond terms for transportation projects to 15 years instead of the current 30 years.
Raising taxes and throwing more money at the state's transportation system without implementing reforms would only enable more of the same problems of waste and failure. We need to make sure that every dollar taken from the taxpayer is used wisely and efficiently BEFORE asking for more of your hard-earned money. For more information or to read my press release on our “Fix it before you fund it!” proposal, click here.
A couple of my bills are still alive and moving through the legislative process:
House Bill 1397 – 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. This bill passed the House 94-4 and is now in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.
Substitute House Bill 1752 – Makes changes to the commercial driver's licenses, applications, and commercial learner's permits laws in order to comply with federal law and avoid the withholding of federal funds that would result from noncompliance. This bill passed the House 96-0 and had a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Transportation on March 14.
I also have a few bills that would help bring accountability to state transportation projects and the construction of state ferries. Because these bills are considered “necessary to implement the budget,” they are not subject to traditional legislative cutoff dates. I'll update you on these important transparency and accountability measures as we move further along in the legislative session.
Fund Education First
House Republicans once again introduced our “Fund Education First” proposal. This is an effort to make sure that education is prioritized first in the state budget. To read more about this effort, and how we would produce a separate, stand-alone education budget before any other state expenditure, click here.
Since 1891, young people from across the state have come to Olympia to serve as pages for the Washington State House of Representatives. Paging presents students with a unique educational opportunity to participate in the legislative process. Page duties are varied. They range from ceremonial tasks such as presenting the flags to operational chores like distributing amendments during legislative sessions. Each job is vital to the efficient operation of the Legislature. As the week-long experience draws to a close and pages return to their schools and communities, it is hoped that pages will share their experiences and observations with others in an effort to contribute to a more universal understanding of the legislative process.
To serve as a legislative page for the House of Representatives, a student must:
- Have permission from a parent or guardian
- Have permission from their school
- Be sponsored by a current member of the House of Representatives
- Be at least 14 years of age and not have reached his or her 17th birthday
Again, thank you for reading my e-newsletter. It is an honor to serve you in Olympia.