E-NEWSLETTER: 2019 session begins! What do you think?

Hello, Friends and Neighbors!

It’s one week down and 14 weeks to go in the new legislative session. The state Senate and House of Representatives were called to order at noon Monday. Our 2018 session had ended more than 10 months ago, so it was nice to see familiar faces again from both sides of the political aisle and both of the legislative chambers.

I was overwhelmed by all the warm wishes from those who know about my ongoing breast-cancer treatment and was happy to tell them it’s going well – and already more than two-thirds of the way along.

I’ve been using the hashtag #OnWednesdaysWeWearPink on social media to promote the importance of breast self-exams and mammograms, so I really appreciated the many members and staff from our Senate Republican Caucus who wore pink as a gesture of support earlier this week, on Wednesday!

Our opening day began with the swearing-in ceremonies for six new senators and those who won re-election. Then we moved on to housekeeping tasks, such as adopting the “cutoff” dates for committees and the respective chambers to act on legislation. The first of those deadlines is February 22, for policy committees to move bills forward.

On Tuesday I went across the Rotunda to the House chamber, where the Senate and House met in a joint session to receive the annual “state of the state” address from Governor Inslee. He outlined the spending proposals that go along with the major tax increases he wants: an unconstitutional, first-ever state income tax, higher business taxes on service-oriented employers, and higher taxes on real-estate transactions – Clark County would be affected more by that tax increase than most other counties. The governor also has proposed lifting the limit on local-school levies, effectively undoing the bipartisan plan passed in 2017 that is slated to bring property-tax reductions to most of our state this year. I see no reason for new or higher taxes, considering the amount of revenue being collected by state government is running billions of dollars ahead of the state economist’s projections.

The rest of this first week was focused on working at the committee level. I have two new committees for 2019: Ways and Means, which addresses spending (the “ways”) and tax policy (the “means”), and the Financial Institutions, Economic Development and Trade committee (FIET).

Ways and Means is best known as the committee where the Senate develops its proposed operating budget and proposed capital budget. I will be fortunate to learn the ins and outs of the budget proposals a step sooner than in past years when I didn’t get to see the whole packages until they were presented to our full caucus late in the session. It will also give me an opportunity to look more closely at any proposed tax increases and bring them to your attention.

I will be the lead Republican on the FIET committee and look forward to sharing my knowledge of banking and credit unions, as well as my business experience. My third committee continues to be Law and Justice, where I expect to focus on public-safety legislation.

These are the sponsorship sheets for two bills I introduced this week – everyone calls them “pink sheets” – and in this case both bills have a “pink” component. SB 5147 would bring women some relief from the “Pink Tax” (the extra amount paid on certain products or services marketed for women) by exempting feminine-hygiene products from the state sales tax. SB 5148 would allow Washington hunters the option to wear safety clothing in blaze pink, in addition to the familiar fluorescent orange required under current law.

Speaking of public safety, I’ve reintroduced my bill to allow domestic-violence victims to receive real-time notification when their perpetrators are nearby, so they have time to leave or prepare for a possible confrontation. Last year it was passed unanimously by the full Senate and cleared one House committee, only to stall in the House budget committee. This year’s measure, SB 5149, will have a public hearing in Law and Justice on Tuesday, and is already scheduled for a committee vote later in the week.

Update on Clark County measles outbreak coming tomorrow – The measles outbreak in our county is about to enter a third week, with at least several of the cases – 19 are confirmed, seven more are suspected – involving children in the 17th District.

I’m planning to meet tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon in Vancouver with Clark County’s public health officer, Dr. Alan Melnick, and Dr. John Wiesman, the state Secretary of Health. Dr. Wiesman knows our area well, having been public health officer in Clark County until 2013. It’s an opportunity for me and other elected officials in the area to learn more about the status of the outbreak, the public-health work that is being done, and the county’s next steps.

Dr. Wiesman happened to be at the Capitol today testifying before the Senate Health Care Committee, and brought up the measles situation, so I already expect part of tomorrow’s conversation will be about immunizations – an important topic with parents.

Please take my survey about replacing the I-5 bridge – The replacement of the Interstate 5 bridge connecting Washington and Oregon is now being discussed by legislators from both states, through a bi-state committee I helped to create. I want to be able to share, with the other committee members, the most up-to-date opinions from our legislative district. That is where you come in! I hope you’ll click on this link and complete the survey – there are only seven questions, and they’re multiple choice, so it should only take a couple of minutes. Thanks in advance!

Click here to see the bills I’ve introduced and co-sponsored so far this session. If you plan to come to the Capitol before the session ends on April 28, please let me know!

Yours in service,