Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We've now surpassed the halfway mark of the 2016 legislative session. There's less than 30 days left for the Legislature to adjourn on time and for lawmakers to return home.
At this point in the process, the first round of legislative cutoffs have almost taken effect, with “house of origin” cutoff scheduled for Feb. 17. After that date, the House will begin to consider Senate bills and the Senate will consider House bills.
I have been very fortunate this session with several of my bills still moving through the process. Here's a brief update on the legislation:
Voyeurism – My bill cracking down on voyeurism passed the House Friday. Under current law, a person must prove he or she was in engaged in voyeurism for the purpose of arousing or sexual gratification. House Bill 2970 would eliminate that provision, and create a crime of voyeurism in the second degree. I sponsored this bill last session, and I'm glad to see it moving forward this session.
Travis Alert Act – I'm thrilled to report Travis Alert Act legislation passed the House today 96-1. This bill is so important to families with individuals with disabilities and special needs. It's critical this legislation get enacted in order to make our communities safer.
I had the privilege of being interviewed by Charter Local Edition Northwest (TV) about the Travis Alert Act this week. It's been encouraging to see this legislation gain interest throughout our state.
Drinking water supply projects – House Bill 2863 is still awaiting House floor action. I sponsored this bill on behalf of the city of White Salmon, which faced a number of challenges with drought in 2015.
School bus safety – House Bill 2639, which would commission a STUDY to analyze the costs and benefits of requiring school buses to be equipped with seat belts, passed out of the House 87-9. We are sending mixed messages to our children when we ask them to wear a seat belt when traveling in the family vehicle, yet we tell them to be picked up or ride home on a school bus without seat belts with a stranger.
Six states currently require school-bus seat belts. Now that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration endorses the use of seat belts on school buses, there may be more interest to look into this important student safety measure.
County payroll draw days – House Bill 2391 was requested by the city of Yakima, and simply aligns federal and state payroll laws. Some counties operate on a monthly payroll system, and since taxes are not taken out of the draw-day pay, some counties have been out of compliance with the IRS. This bill passed the House 96-0.
Our bi-weekly business caucus where lawmakers meet up with business owners are off to a great start. During our first meeting, the Association of Washington Business spoke to the group.
If you have ideas for how to improve Washington's business climate, I encourage you to contact me. I'd love to share your ideas with the group.
The “YesVets' pilot program that resulted from legislation I sponsored last session is launching in Yakima, Klickitat, Kittitas, and Skamania counties this month. You can read more about it here.
We've already had our first business – Atlas Staffing in Yakima – receive their YesVets decal. thank you for making this program a success! I'm looking forward to exploring the prospects of taking this program statewide.
Honored to serve you,