We are almost through the first month of the 2015 legislative session, and I would like to share with you some of the key issues being discussed on both the House floor and in committee.
An update on legislation
The House recently voted on the first two bills of the session. The first was House Bill 1258, also known as Joel's Law. This important piece of legislation would change the law to allow family members of mentally ill individuals, some of whom present a danger to themselves or others, to petition the courts for their involuntary treatment. Washington state is currently one seven states that does not allow the family to influence this process, which has negatively impacted their ability to get their loved ones the treatment they so desperately need. I was proud to speak in favor of the bill on the House floor, and was very pleased with the unanimous support Joel's Law received on both sides of the aisle.
The second vote of the session was on House Bill 1105, the nearly $300 million supplemental operating budget. I voted in support of the budget, which will provide emergency funding for the eastern Washington wildfires and Oso landslide, an increase in mental health treatment capacities, support for children's services, and other emergency services. The supplemental budget was approved with an 83-15 vote.
I am the prime sponsor of House Bill 1607, which would recognize hydroelectric power as an eligible renewable resource in the Energy Independence Act. During the public hearing on the bill last week in the House Technology and Economic Development Committee, I was able to share why I sponsored this bill, and how it would positively impact folks in rural districts like the 35th. In addition to preventing rate increases in our power bills, the millions being spent by our utility suppliers to purchase renewable resource credits could be put to better use through upgrading school infrastructure or building roads. The positive dialogue that has been started as a result of presenting this bill is encouraging, and I look forward to continuing to work toward a solution. Take a look at my testimony before the committee here.
Other bills I'm sponsoring
– House Bill 1962 would correct oversights in the law that lead to easy opportunities for hackers to steal your identity.
– House Bill 1963 would require any significant agency actions by the Department of Ecology and the Department of Fish and Wildlife to be supported with empirical science acquired through proper use of the scientific method, peer review, reproduction of results and journal publication.
– House Bill 1382 would revamp the outdated process of how firefighters are trained in the state, and help provide the necessary training and support that is needed. The bill is supported by Washington State Fire Commissioners and the Washington State Patrol. I was very encouraged to see HB 1382 pass out of the House Local Government Committee with a unanimous 9-0 vote last week.
I am also cosponsoring several bills relating to issues such as firefighters being able to respond to non-fire emergencies, defining human trafficking to eliminate potential loopholes in our judiciary system, and timing free access days at state parks to coincide with local community events.
Honoring the Washington National Guard
During the recent celebration to honor the Washington National Guard in the House, I was proud to be asked to speak about these incredible men and women, and their invaluable service to our state and country. More than 378 years ago – and 139 years before the founding of the country, the National Guard was formed. It has the proud distinction of being the oldest component of the Armed Forces of the United States, and its great legacy continues today. You can watch my floor remarks here.
Every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m., I will be on KMAS Radio in Shelton for a live interview with Dale Hubbard and Jeff Slakey to discuss the latest happenings in the Legislature. My most recent interviews are below:
January 28 — Topics include: meeting with constituents, including representatives of the Washington Corrections Center, and efforts in the House Public Safety Committee to toughen penalties against repeat DUI offenders.
February 4 — Topics include: my House committees, a pilot program on mental health first aid in schools, legislation that would reduce concentration of sex offenders in Pierce County, and my opposition to Gov. Jay Inslee's carbon tax proposal.
In my most recent video update, I talk about meeting with union members of Local 117, which represents the workers of the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton. I also discuss casting my first votes from the House floor, and a piece of legislation I'm cosponsoring that will help firefighters in the state. Take a look!
Please join me for a town hall meeting on Sat., March 14 from 2-3:30 p.m. at The Pavilion in Shelton. The address is:
190 W. Sentry Drive
Shelton, WA 98548
I look forward to seeing you there!
Thanks to all of you who have emailed, called and visited me over the past several weeks. I always enjoy hearing from you. Your input is essential to helping me better represent you and the rest of the folks in the 35th District.