Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2015 legislative session is over after 176 days. It is great to be back home and in the 14th District. We may not be in session, but I am continuing to work to serve the district.
Travis Alert Act
It is never too early to start thinking about next session. At the end of the second special session I introduced the Travis Alert Act, House Bill 2287, which would create a system for a colored, reflective puzzle-piece decal that could be placed in a vehicle or on the main entrance of a residence to indicate a person with disabilities could be present. It would also create an enhanced 911 program for parents to optionally submit information pertaining to a child or adult with a disability living at the residence so first responders would know how to best address the emergency situation.
The bill is named after Travis, a nonverbal child with autism. His parents brought this to my attention. I then hosted a meeting in Olympia between parents, first responders, police and others to discuss possible legislation. You can read my news release by clicking McCabe introduces the 'Travis Alert Act,' aiding first responders in emergencies in identifying those with autism, disabilities.
This legislation will be one of my priority bills in 2016. We are having a community meeting next Tuesday, July 28 at 6 p.m. at Entrust Community Services located at 1510 S. 36th Ave. in Yakima to discuss this legislation. I look forward to seeing those who can attend. Everyone is welcome!
As the legislative session was wrapping up we passed a bipartisan capital budget. The capital budget provides infrastructure for K-12 education, higher education, correction facilities and other projects, while also providing maintenance and repair where it is needed most. I am very excited to report all the projects around the district I was contacted about were in the final budget including:
- Twin Bridges Museum in Lyle updating the heating system;
- Centerville School District, updating the heating system (they are still using radiators); and
- Yakima Valley Museum design support for the proposed expansion and reconstruction of the hands-on children's museum center.
Legislators from both the 14th and 15th District did a great job advocating for the region. It was a team effort from everyone involved.
Twin Bridges Historical Museum: I happened to be home one weekend early in the legislative session when I received a phone call. Before I knew it I was at the museum meeting with a number of people and getting a tour. Terry Mills and Barbara Sexton of the museum board were a big help in making this project happen.
Centerville School District: I was contacted by Kristin Cameron of the Centerville School about this project. I couldn't believe how outdated and the poor condition of their heating system – one control valve for the entire school, cracks in radiators, trouble heating the school when temperatures were around freezing. She also worked with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction as well as area legislators to help make this happen.
Yakima Valley Museum: Director of the museum, John Baule, did a lot of legwork to ensure area legislators had the details of the project. It is a great benefit to the region. I am pleased we were able to include it in the budget.
The Legislature passed a two-year $38 billion state operating budget on just before the end of the second special session.
I opposed the operating budget because it does raise taxes. I told constituents as I traveled the district last year that I would not support any tax increases as part of the operating budget. Supporting this budget would have broken my promise, and my word is of the utmost importance to me. The Goldendale Sentinel discusses my vote and the legislative session in a recent article. Click “McCabe votes a lone 'no' on state budget.”
Transportation package – gas tax increase
During the third special session the Legislature passed a transportation funding package that would raise the gas tax nearly 12 cents a gallon. However, I could not support the $16 billion transportation package.
Before the final vote, there was an amendment to put the gas-tax increase on the ballot, but that was defeated with a 52-46 vote.
While there are some good projects in the transportation package, projects that will affect the 14th Legislative District, I could not cast a vote in favor of it. The gas-tax increase is too large – the highest in state history, and the transportation plan also includes increased weight and registration fees. Additionally, I was hoping for stronger reforms in the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).
We will have the second highest gas tax in the nation, trailing only Pennsylvania, when the gas tax increase kicks in (7.9 cents on August 1, and another 4.9 cents July 1, 2016). Combined with the federal gas tax Washington drivers will pay 68 cents a gallon in gas tax at the pump.
I hope you find this update informative. Remember, some of the best ideas for legislation come from constituents. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need some assistance or guidance navigating our state government and agencies.
Thank you for allowing me to represent you in Olympia.
Honored to serve you,