Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Since my last email update, we have reached a major milestone in the 2015 legislative session. As of today, we have reached both the policy and fiscal cutoff dates for bills to be heard and voted out of committee. If a bill did not get voted out of committee, it is now considered “dead” for the remainder of session, unless it is necessary to implement the state budget. This is an important step in the legislative process – a thinning of the herd, so to speak. Later in this email, I will provide an update on the bills I have been working on and other important issues being discussed here in Olympia.
Before I get to the updates, I would like to hear from you on some of the major issues we are discussing this session. Please click here to take a brief, three-question survey. It only takes a minute, but the feedback you provide will go a long way and help me to vote in a way that reflects the values and needs of our district.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about these topics or anything else, please don't hesitate to call, email, or write my office. As always, my contact information is at the bottom of this message.
Mark your calendar for my upcoming town hall!
When: March 14, 9:30-11 a.m.
Where: DoubleTree by Hilton – Columbia Room, 12712 SE 2nd Circle, Vancouver
We look forward to updating you on the 2015 legislative session, discussing issues important to you, and answering your questions!
Progress report on my bills:
House Bill 1819 is a bill I sponsored that would require individuals to make an appointment and present photo ID when examining a campaign or candidates' account books. My bill was passed out of the House State Government Committee with strong bipartisan support, and is now eligible to come to the House floor for a vote.
This week, I testified before the House Transportation Committee on another bill I introduced, House Bill 2124. This bill would limit voting membership on boards such as the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) to members from Washington state. There are currently 14 voting members on the Clark County RTC, two of which are from Oregon. I believe it is beneficial that they have a voice in the regional discussion. However, I do not think they should be able to vote on how Washington's tax dollars are spent on Washington's projects, especially in light of the fact that Washington legislators who are also on the board do not have voting rights. Another bill was introduced to address that point as well, but it was not even given a hearing! This is disappointing, but rest assured, I will continue to work on this issue.
While many good bills perished at cutoff, here are a few bills I co-sponsored that I am pleased to report are still alive.
House Bill 1219: This bill would expedite permitting for bridges deemed “structurally deficient.” There are 130 structurally deficient bridges in Washington, three of which are in Clark County. I believe we should look for ways to reduce the red tape in order to fix these bridges quickly and more efficiently. This bill addresses that concern.
House Bill 1559: This bill authorizes the board of regents at Washington State University to establish, operate, and maintain a school of medicine. By 2030, we will face a shortage of 17,000 primary care physicians. Adding a second medical school is an important step toward increasing access to care and reducing associated costs.
House Bill 2055: This bill would require fiscal impact notices be included in voter's pamphlets for ballot measures. As we saw last year with I-1351, mandates often carry high price tags which make implementing them very difficult. Voters deserve to understand the potential costs of ballot initiatives so they can make more informed decisions when voting.
Good bill becomes a casualty of cutoff.
House Bill 1607: This bill would have recognized hydroelectricity as a renewable resource under the Energy Independence Act. Washington is uniquely blessed with clean, green, renewable hydropower, and it should be a part of the discussion when we consider available options for a diverse and effective energy portfolio. I was proud to co-sponsor this bill and will work to see it resurrected next year.
BAD BILL ALERT! Help me stop these bills!
House Bill 2009: This bill would eliminate the philosophical or personal objection exemption from child immunization requirements. This is a reactionary bill that unnecessarily allows government to come between parents, children, and their doctor. Parents should have the right to make decisions for their kids – not government. If HB 2009 comes to the floor, please be assured I will vote against it.
House Bill 1857: This bill would create an “extreme risk protection order” that allows a law enforcement officer or family or household member of any person to petition for a court order forcing the subject of the order to surrender firearms or other weapons. Additionally, those named in the order would have to surrender any concealed pistol license if the petitioner feels the subject poses a danger to themselves or others. It would also create a state-wide database of extreme risk protection order entries. Under the bill, there is no clear plan established to get out of the database for those wrongly subjected to one of these orders, or for the return of wrongfully seized weapons or licenses. Worse yet, the order stays in place for a year! This bill is ripe for abuse, and I want you to know that I am adamantly opposed to it!
Initiative 594 update
In my last update, I wrote about working with Attorney General Bob Ferguson to address a concern brought to me by the Clark County Sheriff's Department. You can read more about that concern here.
This week, I received a notice from the attorney general's office that they would decline my request for an opinion or guidance on this critical public safety issue due to pending litigation. I am disappointed we will not be receiving the clarification law enforcement officers need in order to participate in firearms training as required by state law. Our law enforcement officers deserve better than being left in limbo while the courts try to sort out this seriously flawed law. I am an ardent defender of your Second Amendment rights, and all of your rights enumerated under the constitution. You can count on me to continue fighting to protect them!
Yours in service,
418 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7994 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000