Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Hello from Olympia, and welcome to my legislative update.
Veteran Recognition Legislation
Last week I had the opportunity to testify on my first pieces of sponsored legislation in a committee I serve on, the House Transportation Committee. Both bills are aimed at recognizing Washington's military veterans.
I am a Navy veteran, and I am also honored to have two sons currently serving in the Army and Army Reserves. These bills are just two small ways we can acknowledge the service of our military men and women.
House Bill 1132 would extend the eligibility of Gold Star License plates from parents of fallen soldiers to include spouses of veterans killed in action.
This issue was brought to me by a constituent, and it surprised me that spouses were not already eligible. I believe spouses should have the option of honoring the memory of their husband or wife by displaying the Gold Star License plates.
House Joint Memorial 4000 would designate Interstate 5 as the “Purple Heart Trail.” While the official name of the highway wouldn't change, the Washington State Transportation Commission allows naming highways and bridges to institute an enduring memory of a person or group of people who have contributed significantly to the well-being of the state or nation.
I-5 is the lifeline of our state, and to name it the “Purple Heart Trail” would bring honor and recognition to our state's military veterans, who have sacrificed so much for our country and communities.
HB 1132 was passed unanimously by the House Transportation committee, and is now eligible to be heard by the entire House of Representatives. HJM 4000 also passed out of the Transportation Committee, although with an amendment that recognizes the Washington State Transportation Commission's discretion to name “all of or portions of Interstate 5 as the Purple Heart Trail.”
House Republican Rules changes
On February 1, I joined with other House Republicans in an attempt to change the rules the House of Representatives. The four proposed changes are based on recent ballot measures where voters statewide gave us clear direction. The four proposed changes would have:
- Prioritized education first by creating a separate education budget and mandating the funding of that priority before any other in accordance with our State Constitution;
- Allowed each house member to have one bill heard in a committee;
- Placed a 2/3 majority requirement on votes for all tax increases; and
- Prioritized citizen testimony in committees.
The only rule change accepted by the Democrats was to prioritize citizen testimony. While I am happy citizens will have the first chance to testify ahead of lobbyists and state employees, I am disappointed that the Majority Party decided to vote against the rest of our proposed changes.
It's especially difficult to understand the rejection of placing a supermajority requirement vote for all tax increases into the House rules. Initiative 1185 passed statewide by a margin of 63.9%. Additionally, this initiative passed in the 10th Legislative District with a 68% affirmative vote. Voter in the 10th district and indeed voters statewide have given lawmakers clear marching orders to ensure that any tax increase meets the standard of a super majority of the elected members of the Legislature to pass. The House Republicans were simply attempting to meet this expectation by changing the rules to pass tax increases. However, the proposal failed a subsequent vote following a floor debate.
Even though the supermajority rule change did not pass, I am committed to taking a stand against any new taxes proposed in Olympia.
My office in Olympia is open to all citizens. If you have questions, thoughts or concerns about state government or specific legislation I would like the opportunity to assist you.