Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have now begun our third week of the scheduled 105-day legislative session in Olympia. The last 16 days have been very busy in our committees, as we are listening to public testimony on legislation that has been introduced and voting on bills.
Top legislative issues
Some of the most important issues to the district include:
- Education – We must meet the state's paramount duty to fund education in a manner that adheres to the state constitution and satisfies the requirements of the Washington State Supreme Court under the McCleary decision. As a member of the House Education Committee, I'm working to make sure our communities have choice, local control of policies, accountability in our schools, and that the Legislature stop the practice of passing under-funded mandates down to our schools. I also believe we should fund education in the budget first before other programs.
- Transportation – My Republican colleagues and I understand the importance of investing in needed transportation infrastructure. However, we want to make sure every dollar that comes from the taxpayer is spent wisely and efficiently. And that means implementing essential reforms within our transportation system. This week, I will be introducing legislation to implement new streamlining of the state's permitting process, regarding maintenance projects on state highways, which would save taxpayers' dollars and get projects completed on time and within budget. I am receiving a lot of bipartisan support on this matter, and I'm excited to push this bill through the process.
- State budget – Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed increasing taxes by more than $1.4 billion, including a new carbon tax and a new capital gains tax. I am very concerned that while our local economies have stabilized, they haven't fully recovered. Tax increases not only could affect employers, but also jobs, and hurt struggling working families. Washington is bringing in an additional $3 billion this budget cycle. That's an eight percent raise. Did you get an eight percent raise in your paycheck recently? I believe the state should live within its means, just like you and I must do.
I'm working to move several bills through the Legislature, including these below. I will have more information on others in the coming weeks:
- House Bill 1306 – Equity for city-owned marinas – Port districts that own marinas are exempt from paying lease fees to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Unfortunately, cities that own/operate marinas are not. Legislation passed a few years ago that temporarily exempted the City of Oak Harbor from paying DNR lease fees will expire in a couple of years. That could cost Oak Harbor thousands of dollars in DNR fees – money that could pay for other essential city services. House Bill 1306 would treat cities the same as port districts when it comes to exempting DNR marina lease fees.
STATUS: A public hearing was held yesterday in the House Environment Committee. Further action is pending.
- House Bill 1052 – Helping active duty military families access higher education: We recently gave priority registration for college classes to active duty military personnel. This gives them more surety in planning for the future. House Bill 1052 would extend priority college registration to spouses of active duty servicemen and women.
STATUS: A public hearing is scheduled for this Wednesday, Jan. 28, 1:30 p.m. in the House Higher Education Committee.
- House Bill 1061 – Adding a third District Court judge for Skagit County: Court caseloads have increased the past 16 years in Skagit County, along with population. However, there are still two District Court judges trying to handle the exploding docket. House Bill 1061 would help to alleviate the backlog and ensure trials are held in a timely manner. Listen to my radio news spot for more information on this measure.
STATUS: The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee last Thursday. It was referred to the House General Government and Information Technology Committee for further consideration.
On your TV, radio and telephone
Television: Every two weeks, I record a legislative video update that is broadcast on local cable TV. If you haven't seen it, I invite you to watch it online here.
Radio: I was recently interviewed by KAPS/KBRC Radio's Jeff Rex (Mount Vernon). You can listen to that interview here. Every two weeks on Tuesdays at 4:05 p.m., I talk with KSER's Ed Bremer (Everett radio station 90.7 FM). Listen to my last interview here.
Telephone: Rep. Norma Smith and I conducted a telephone town hall meeting last Thursday evening. You can listen to the entire event here.
I want to hear from you!
Please feel free to contact me on these or other issues. Also, please share with your friends and ask them to sign up for my e-mail updates from my website at www.representativedavehayes.com.