Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Lawmakers wrapped up week three of the 60-day legislative session today. This was the first week we participated in serious floor action and passed some bills to address K-12 education obligations and measures to improve student outcomes.
One bill we passed, which I was asked by my district to support, was House Bill 2366. It was important we pass this legislation early in order to get the ball rolling on addressing the state Supreme Court's decisions in the K-12 education McCleary case. There is a genuine need to know the price tag of basic education and how much local levy money is contributing to the state's basic education program. This legislation will allow us to obtain that crucial data. This bill will also benefit those of us in rural areas of the state, as recommendations required under this legislation would need to include labor market adjustment factors as they pertain to rural remote districts — this should help us yield better recruitment and retention rates in our schools. The bill has now been referred to the Senate, and awaits a hearing.
There's about six weeks left in the short session, and I encourage you to continue reaching out to me with your questions, ideas and concerns. Your involvement is critical for effective and efficient state government.
Keeping our communities safe
My bill that would focus on the shortage of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), especially in rural and underserved areas, received a hearing this week and unanimously passed out of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. Under the bill, a study would be commissioned to determine how many nurses are needed, as well as how services and care can be enhanced. You can find more information about this legislation here, and listen to the hearing here.
This is one legislative solution derived out of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination, or “SAFE,” Task Force I am appreciative to serve as co-chair on.
Honoring our military heroes
I sponsored a simple bill this session that would extend the free veteran's disability lifetime state park passes to any disabled veteran, regardless of state residency. This was an idea brought to me by a Goldendale resident.
In my last update, I provided you details about our hiring a veteran campaign we're calling “Yes Vets.” This will be launched in district on Feb. 22, Washington's birthday, and will have a statewide launch on Flag Day 2016. This week I met with Gov. Jay Inslee and representatives from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs, Employment Security Department, and others to discuss the launch. I'll send you more details as they are finalized.
Strengthening Washington's businesses
As a business owner, I came to Olympia seeking to alleviate unnecessary burdens on businesses to help them grow and provide more well-paying jobs within our communities. I was recently appointed to serve as the assistant ranking member on the House Business and Financial Services Committee, which considers issues related to licensing and regulation of businesses, insurance, state banks, credit unions, as well as consumer-protection issues.
In addition, I've also partnered with the Association of Washington Business, the Washington chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and others to match lawmakers up with business owners and entrepreneurs for a bi-weekly “business caucus.” I hope this will lead to work on solutions that will better working environments, streamline permitting processes, and improve our state's economy.
Honored to serve you,