Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This is a busy time of session. We recently finished the policy committee cutoff – where bills needed to be passed out of their respective policy committees or they are likely “dead” for the session. We are approaching the fiscal committee cutoff. It is a little more difficult to deem fiscal bills “dead” if they don't make it out before the cutoff, because of their fiscal implications. They could end up being considered part of the budget or “NTIB” – necessary to implement the budget. On top of the committee cutoffs, as time allows, we are also debating bills on the House floor.
This week we had our first opportunity to vote on an education funding plan to address the state Supreme Court McCleary order. House Democrats brought their proposal to the floor for debate. Unfortunately, their education funding plan contains no funding. You cannot have an education funding plan that will cost $11 billion over the next four years and not tell the Washington taxpayers how you intend to pay for it. Their plan does nothing to address the inequality of our current levy system which got us in the McCleary situation in the first place. If this plan were to pass into law we would be right back in court in a few years.
House Bill 1843 passed on a 50-47 party-line vote. House Republicans offered seven amendments that would have provided some meaningful reforms and protections from future lawsuits. Only one was accepted.
As we move forward and enter the negotiation phase, House Republicans will continue to provide input that will address accountability and equitability in a plan.
Law enforcement officers and the hunter education training program
Some of the best ideas for bills come from you, the constituents. House Bill 1944 is the result of a constituent meeting I had during the interim. This bill would exempt certain law enforcement officers from the field firearms skills portion of any hunter education course completed online. Law enforcement officers already go through extensive firearms training. It does not make sense to have them repeat the training to obtain their hunting license. Military officers are already exempt from the requirement. The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife testified in favor of the bill. It passed the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee 14-1. It is now eligible to brought up for a vote before the full House of Representatives.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
I do not serve on the House Education Committee, but I did want to share that I recently had a meeting with our new Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal. He is a former Democrat legislator from the Olympia area. While we are from the opposite sides of the aisle in the Legislature, we did work on a number of issues together.
We had the opportunity to talk about the future of education. He will be watching the negotiations on a McCleary plan closely, but he is also looking at getting some things done in the area of testing, vocational education or CTE, and high school completion. I believe he will bring a balanced and bipartisan approach to the office. I look forward to working with him.
Civility in politics
In the last month, my office has received a number of hostile, mean-spirited and negative phone calls and emails. There are many who are not happy with the politics coming out of Washington D.C. and the negative energy seems to be trickling down to the state level. We are not Washington D.C., but there is no need for the hatred and vitriol at any level.
I review all emails I receive from constituents and while I may not always agree with their position, I respect their views and have no issue with them expressing how they feel about a specific piece of legislation or an issue before us. However, I do expect messages to be respectful and civil in nature.
Any messages that appear threatening are turned over to the Washington State Patrol and we will let them take action.
This week my video update focuses on the “dead and alive” bills surrounding the policy committee cutoff, the Hirst decision legislation – extremely important issue surrounding water and wells, and the latest from the House Appropriations Committee. Click “Rep. Cary Condotta's Legislative Video” to watch.
Please let me know if you have any comments, concerns or questions about the issues before us.