The 2017 legislative session has begun. On Jan. 9, lawmakers descended on Olympia for the start of the 105-day session.
It's a privilege to continue serving the 35th District. While this session will be long, I'm looking forward working on issues important to our communities. With the start of the new year also began a new biennium, so lawmakers will be working on a new, two-year budget. We have many priorities to fulfill, chief among them being K-12 education funding. I'm optimistic we can fully fund public education and essential services. It doesn't need to be an either/or scenario.
In my last update, I asked you to fill out a brief survey. Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond! Your feedback helps guide the decisions I make as your advocate in Olympia. No surprise — government spending, taxes, jobs and K-12 education are people's top priorities for the new year.
Let's talk about government spending. As some of you may be aware, the governor released his budget proposal in December. His plan calls for unsustainable spending, which would be funded by a capital gains (income) tax, a carbon tax, increasing the B&O tax on services, and closing some tax exemptions. His tax plan would generate $11 billion over the next four years, yet that's still not enough to support his spending proposals. And many of these taxes have been rejected by the Legislature and you, the voters, in the past.
The governor says he's made tough decisions when it comes to his budget. As I see it, “tough decisions” doesn't mean increasing taxes and spending. “Tough decisions” to me means prioritizing spending. Our state constitution is clear — fully funding basic education is our paramount duty. Let's take care of that first, then fund other essential programs.
Expanding justice for survivors of sexual abuse
Someone asked in the survey whether I would be reintroducing a bill I sponsored last year that would have eliminated the statutes of limitations on certain sex crimes. The answer is 'yes,' and I'm excited to announce my bill passed unanimously out of the House Public Safety Committee yesterday. You can read more about it here.
Sadly, sexual violence and abuse affects many throughout Washington's communities. According to 2012 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in five women and one in seventy-one men report experiencing rape during their lives. Additionally, 42.2 percent of female rape victims and 29.9 percent of male rape victims were first raped before the age of 18.
Given that sometimes abusers are family members, or trusted members of the community, victims often struggle to speak out about the abuse. And it's for that very reason the statutes of limitations for these crimes should be eliminated. The people who commit these horrible crimes should never feel free from prosecution.
Thank you, Miss and Mr. Mason Area Pageant
This week, I had the privilege of sponsoring a resolution to honor the past and present participants of the Miss and Mr. Mason Area Pageant, a “natural pageant” that participates in community service projects throughout Mason County. The work these young people do is truly inspirational. From collecting coats for a domestic violence shelter, writing Christmas cards to veterans, collecting food for a local food bank, raising money for and walking in the Relay for Life, and so much more, these dedicated young volunteers embody what it means to be a community leader. Read more about the wonderful work they do in my resolution here.
As session progresses, I encourage you to stay in touch. If you have any questions, ideas or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Thank you for the privilege of serving you!