Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2012 elections have concluded. Thank you for returning me to Olympia to serve as your 12th District Representative. I am truly honored to serve our region and represent you. I also want to say thank you to my seatmate Mike Armstrong for his years of service. Mike has been in the Legislature for many years and has done a lot of good things for our district and state. I wish him the best.
It is safe to say it was an interesting election, particularly here in Washington state. We narrowly supported charter schools, but also passed initiatives on same-sex marriage and the use of marijuana by comfortable margins. The 12th Legislative District was divided on these issues. Chelan, Douglas and Grant counties all favored the charter school initiative, Douglas and Grant by just a couple hundred votes, but Okanogan was over 53 percent “no.” Chelan and Okanogan counties supported the marijuana ballot measure, while Douglas and Grant voted against it. All four counties voted against the same-sex marriage measure.
Voters in our region and across the state made it very clear they are not interested in tax increases or allowing the government an easier path to raise revenue. The state overwhelmingly passed Initiative 1185, where an increase in state taxes would require a two-thirds vote of both houses in the Legislature or a simple majority vote of the people. Voters also passed in a landslide the ballot measure related to Senate Joint Resolution 8221. This ballot item is a result of the increase in public borrowing and has made Washington a high borrower among the states. This initiative will tighten the debt limit in the long run. Those casting ballots even voted to “repeal” what the Legislature did in taking away tax breaks to financial institutions and petroleum products.
We will use that information as we turn to Olympia and focus on the 2013 Legislative Session. The budget will not be easy. We are already projected to be short around $1 billion and the early opinions are we need at least another $1 billion to fund education as a result of the McCleary decision.
One other positive note from the election, at least from the House Republican perspective, we did pick up one seat in the House. The Senate also picked one up. We are still in the minority, but we have closed the majority-minority gap three election cycles in a row. Balance brings everyone to the table. No matter who is in control, it was proven last session we are at a point where we must all work together. We plan on being relevant in budget discussions, jobs and economy, energy, education funding and much more.
I have some exciting news to share about a change in my committee assignments. I will be the ranking Republican member on the House Government and Oversight Committee. Other than the Appropriations Committee, most of the action in the upcoming session is going to take place in this committee. The House Government Accountability & Oversight Committee considers issues relating to fiscal and performance audits of state government programs and agencies. It also considers issues relating to the regulation and oversight of liquor, tobacco, gambling and marijuana. Given the recent passage of the liquor and marijuana initiatives all legislation introduced to put guidelines or rules in place to make sure the initiatives are being properly implemented will flow through this committee.
This does mean I will no longer be the ranking member on the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee, but I will continue to serve on the committee. I still expect to be heavily involved in the jobs/economy issues.
I am also serving on the House Finance Committee which reviews all tax and revenue bills. With our budget situation, and my economic background this is a good fit for me. It should be a very interesting assignment. I expect there will be many bills to generate new revenue (i.e. raise taxes) given the projected budget deficit and I will have a firsthand look at the proposals as they come before us on this committee.
STAY IN TOUCH
I would urge you to contact me if you have any comments, concerns or ideas regarding legislation before we start the session in January. Some of the best legislation comes from the constituents who are out there dealing with the government in their everyday lives. I look forward to communicating with you during the upcoming session. Please sign up for my e-mail updates and feel free to pass them along. Besides our e-mail updates we will have our weekly radio programs on KPQ, KOZI and KOHO and will also being doing some Teleforums during the session.
E-MAIL and CONTACT INFO
I have moved my e-mail list from a state service to a third-party provider called GovDelivery. While my e-mails will still come from me, the e-mail address appears different. You can respond directly to the e-mail and it will come to me, even though my reply e-mail address will look different. You can still e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also see a logo for GovDelivery at the very end of my e-mails. You may need to adjust your spam filters to accept e-mails from an address with “@updates.leg.wa.gov.”
Let me know if you plan in being in Olympia. We always appreciate it when people make their way to Olympia while the Legislature is in session.
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