Close to the end of session: Where do we stand?

Download the 2017 Government Guide

Will we end the 2017 session on time?

We are almost to the end of the 2017 regular legislative session but some significant issues remain to be resolved before we go home.

April 23 is the last day of the regular session, but there is a chance that we will be called in for a 30-day special session immediately afterward. We can’t go home for the year until we come to an agreement on how to fully fund education and on a budget for the 2017-19 biennium.

So why haven’t we come to an agreement yet?

Simply put…the House Democrats will not do what they need to do in order for us to negotiate the final deals on these issues.They can’t seem to get their ducks in a row.

Did they pass an education plan? Yes, but without the means to pay for it.

Did they pass a budget? Yes, but without passing any of the bills necessary to implement the taxes their budget relies on, such as an income tax on capital gains.

Why won’t they take the hard votes to include the means to pay for their plans? Because they know that they don’t have enough votes within their own caucus to pass $8 billion in new taxes. It’s easier for them to claim they want to negotiate, but if they don’t include the realistic funding for their position, there is nothing to negotiate.

Think about it like this: If you set up an annual budget of $100,000 that takes care of everything your family needs, but you only make $60,000 per year, you don’t have a real budget because you can’t afford it. You should start with the actual money you will have to work with and then figure out what fits within that framework. You can’t afford everything you want, especially if your spouse won’t agree on your schemes for raising the extra money you would need.

That’s where the House Democrats are.

In the meantime, we’re waiting. We have a budget. We have a complete education plan. And we’ve passed the bills necessary to fund both.

None of us wants to be here beyond Sine Die. We all have families back in our districts waiting for us, but it is our duty to fight for our constituents and the good of the state of Washington. We will sit here at the negotiating table until the House Democrats get those ducks in a row and join us.

Flawed water-rights ruling must be reversed

Rarely does the Legislature see an issue that causes as much alarm as the state Supreme Court’s ruling last year in a water-rights case.

The decision in Hirst vs. Whatcom County has become one of those issues that wells up from the ground and forces the Legislature to take notice — or at least it should.

Read on for more of my editorial on the urgency of Hirst fix: 

http://www.thenewstribune.com/opinion/article143348249.html

My legislation soon to become law

Several of my bills are close to becoming law. They have passed both the Senate and the House and are now on the final path toward the governor’s signature. Here’s a list of those bills. Click on them to read more about the legislation.

Substitute Senate Bill 5374: State employee whistleblowers

Senate Bill 5200: Complimentary Discover Pass

Substitute Senate Bill 5372: Audits finding noncompliance

Senate Bill 5631: University of Washington contracting

Senate Bill 5436: Telemedicine locations

Substitute Senate Bill 5705: Behavioral health agencies

Search for additional bills. 

Learn more about key issues:

Education Equality Act

Senate budget proposal

Hirst water rights

Sound Transit (ST3)