Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Tomorrow is halftime in the scheduled 105-day legislative session. However, unlike the halftime at a game which provides some rest, we are taking no breaks. Instead, the first committee cutoff dates have come and gone, and we are spending our time between now and March 8 on the House floor voting on bills that survived the committee process.
House approves Hayes' veterans' jobs bill and measure to improve child abuse reporting
I'm pleased to report one of the first bills to be voted out of the House this week was House Bill 1369. This measure would allow veterans who have been honorably discharged to immediately gain the benefit of claiming veterans' preference points for civil service tests while transitioning to civilian life. That preference gives an additional boost to veterans seeking civil service jobs. The problem under current law is that there's a transition period in which discharged veterans are unable to claim those points until the last of their accrued military leave has been depleted. This bill fixes that problem.
You can get more information about the bill here:
A second measure I sponsored was unanimously approved today. House Bill 1931 would require the Department of Social and Health Services make available on its website a downloadable, printable 8.5 x 11 inches poster that clearly includes requirements for mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect. You can read more about that bill in this press release.
An education funding bill with no funding
Last Wednesday, the House approved House Bill 1843, which is meant to address the state Supreme Court's McCleary ruling. House Democrats presented this bill and it passed from the House floor on a party-line 50-47 vote. I was among my fellow Republicans who voted no. Here's why:
- It's a multi-billion dollar education funding wish list with NO funding source. While House Democrats are proposing ample funding, they fail to show how they would pay for their bill. We are left to wonder which taxes they would create or raise. People deserve to know how they would be impacted.
- It provides NO reforms and would require even greater reliance on local levies – something the state Supreme Court directed the Legislature to move away from.
- It fails to address the inequities regarding school levies and teacher compensation.
- The bill does not address the core McCleary problem and sets us up for future litigation.
- It does not ensure students in poorer school districts receive the same high quality education as those in richer districts.
Several weeks ago, Senate Republicans passed their education bill, The One Washington Education Equality Act, over to the House. That measure would create a flat statewide levy of $1.80 per thousand assessed valuation and provide at least $12,500 per student in Washington state. It would ensure students from school districts with lower property values get the same quality education as rich districts like Bellevue or Mercer Island.
The Senate bill came over to the House, but was bottled up in the House Appropriations Committee by majority Democrats. The House Democrats' bill is likely dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate. Now that both bills have passed their respective chambers, it provides an opportunity for negotiations to begin on the McCleary funding issue. This will also allow budget negotiations to commence earlier than in the past.
Deadly force bills fail to advance by cutoff, but may not be completely dead
In my last email update to you, I outlined my concerns with legislation that would make it easier to prosecute law enforcement officers who make the decision to use deadly force.
Under current law, a police officer or peace officer cannot be held criminally liable for using deadly force when it is used without malice and with a good faith belief that the use is permitted under the law. Legislation in both the House and Senate had proposed to remove the words “without malice,” and changed the meaning of “good faith,” which would have considerably lowered the bar for prosecuting law enforcement officers. I opposed this because I believe it would lead to greater distrust, compromise our officers' safety and do nothing further to protect our communities.
The good news is that both the House and Senate bills failed to advance from their committees by cutoff. However, I'm still concerned that the chair of the House Public Safety Committee told the Associated Press, “This issue is very much alive and I believe we are going to find consensus this session.”
This is an issue I will continue to monitor as we work through the remainder of session.
Honoring the late Gina Grant Bull
Last Wednesday, the House took actions on two measures I introduced honoring the late Gina Grant Bull, Oak Harbor resident and director of the House Page program. The first was House Resolution 4616. You can listen to a radio report about the tribute to Gina. Then by unanimous vote, the House approved House Bill 1194. This is a bill that would create the Gina Grant Bull Memorial Legislative Page Scholarship Program.
The scholarship program is an idea that came from Gina herself that would help provide housing assistance funds for qualified young people who would like to serve as pages in the Legislature, but cannot afford the fee. There would be no tax dollars involved. It would simply be funded by private donations. Read my press release for more information about Gina and the proposed scholarship program.
Check out my new website!
Recently, my website underwent some major changes to make it easier for you to get information about how I am serving you at the state Capitol. I invite you to visit my “News & Media” page, where you can listen to my radio reports on KSER – Everett and KBRC in Mount Vernon, watch my Legislative Update videos and read my latest news releases. Go here to view my sponsored bills. If you wish to view my entire website, go to: www.RepresentativeDaveHayes.com
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve and represent you!