Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I am very enthusiastic and optimistic about the 2016 legislation session. This week has been filled with opening ceremonies for the House of Representatives, listening to the State of the State address by our governor, committee hearings, and constituent and lobbyist meetings. This short session is much busier and faster than the last one. I remain very grateful for this opportunity to serve you.
This email will recap a few highlights of this amazing week and offer a preview of legislative issues to come.
The highlight of my week was the public hearing on my Travis Alert Act legislation, House Bill 2287, in the House Judiciary Committee. A busload of constituents, along with Travis' family, came over from Yakima to testify in support of the bill. It was inspiring to see the passion behind the bill, but more importantly, it has the potential of saving lives of those in our communities who are disabled. The committee has until Feb. 2 to take a vote on the bill and move it to the next step in the legislative process.
As co-chair of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination, or “SAFE” Task Force, we have submitted three bills that would improve the care of our victims and address the unacceptable backlog of over 6,000 rape test kits in Washington state.
The task force, which is bipartisan and bicameral, includes law enforcement agencies, educators, victim advocacy groups, and others who can assist in improving the current method of processing forensic cases. I am very appreciative for the dedication of this team.
I am the prime sponsor of a bipartisan bill that would focus on the shortage of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, especially in rural and underserved areas. A study would be commissioned to determine how many nurses are needed, as well as how services and care can be enhanced.
The results of my House Bill 2040 are coming soon! Our “Hire a Vet” campaign will be released district-wide beginning on Washington's birthday, Feb. 22, 2016!
The Washington state launch will be on Flag Day 2016! I am incredibly proud of the exceptional work done by the Veterans' Affairs team, Employment Security Department, Department of Commerce, our graphic designer and all who are so committed to our veterans and this project. Watch for exciting information to come that will help businesses throughout the state get our veteran unemployment numbers down.
A plan for McCleary
Much of the attention this session will continue to be on education and the Legislature's plan to address the state Supreme Court's McCleary ruling. A bipartisan workgroup continues to meet and discuss possible solutions. In fact, they have introduced legislation, House Bill 2366 and Senate Bill 6195, which outlines the next steps for addressing K-12 funding reforms.
The short, 60-day legislative session is a supplemental budget year for lawmakers. We should not see new, major policies or spending. I do expect some increased funding to address the emergencies around the state this year – wildfires and flooding. I hope for fiscal responsibility in the final supplemental budget.
I encourage you to stay in touch. The best legislative ideas come from you, my esteemed constituents.
Honored to serve you,