Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I recently sent out an end-of session update, but I have few updates to provide you since then including the governor's veto of the drone legislation, my legislation related to appeals with the Department of Labor and Industries, concerns with state agencies, and election year restrictions.
Drone legislation vetoed
Last week Gov. Inslee vetoed House Bill 2789, the “drone bill.” I discussed this legislation in my last e-mail update. It had overwhelming bipartisan support and was a well-balanced approach to protecting the public's privacy and constitutional rights from government unmanned surveillance aircraft. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 77-21 and the Senate 46-1. He is placing a 15-month moratorium on state agencies with regard to buying or using drones.
Initially I thought we were still moving in a positive direction on this issue as the governor indicated he was placing a 15-month moratorium on state agencies on buying or using drones. However, it is being reported Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Western Washington University are possibly involved in an elk study with the federal government and tribes, and the plan is to use unmanned surveillance aircraft, or drones. The governor also indicated he is ordering a task force, which the bill included, and with what I believe to have had better parameters.
Who knows what the state government will want to use them for next. These drones can fly up to 1,000 feet in the air, without making a noise, and be able to see what book you are reading in your backyard.
His veto decision was short-sighted as this was a well-negotiated bill, yet he was not at the table. Once again, as with the death penalty moratorium, he is using his executive power to decide what is best for the citizens of Washington despite the strong vote by the Legislature to put privacy protections in place around the use of the drones.
Labor and Industries appeal bill signed by the governor
Since my last update, the governor signed the Department of Labor and Industries appeal bill I introduced, House Bill 2146. This legislation modifies the appeal bond amount with the department. To appeal a $150 penalty with the department, a $200 appeal bond had to be paid. This is a simple case of common sense and fairness. Under the new law the appeal amount will be 10 percent of the penalty amount, or $200, whichever is less, subject to a $100 minimum.
State agency concerns
I have heard from almost a dozen businesses or local entities who have been required to make repairs, upgrades or unnecessary changes to the operation of the elevators used in their buildings. This includes a company that uses a dumbwaiter to move clothes from their unloading dock to another part of their building. It doesn't even haul people, yet they shut it down. Another situation involves a business in a brand new building with a new elevator that is already being required to make thousands of dollars of changes. The elevator was already operational and inspected during construction. This may be a case of one overanxious employee within the Department of Labor and Industries. We are looking into the situation.
However, if you have had a bad experience with a state agency or know someone who has and can provide my office information and background on the incident I would encourage you do so. I believe our state employees on our frontlines do good work. But one of the things we are working toward is making our state agencies more accountable to the decisions, rules and regulations they put in place. State agencies should be working with, not against, us. They are in place to provide a service and we want to ensure they are providing acceptable customer service to the people I represent.
Due to state election-year restrictions, this will be the last e-mail update I am sending out until after the general election in November. I appreciate you taking the time to read my updates. While the legislative session is over, please remember I'm your state representative year-round. I'm here to answer your questions, listen to your ideas and help you navigate problems with state government on any issue. Feel free to contact my office to schedule a time to meet with me or if you would like me to attend a meeting or speak at an event. The contact information for my district office is listed below.