As you have likely heard by now, the Legislature is currently in a 30-day special session, the 11th in the past 10 years. An agreement could not be reached on three separate budgets — the two-year state operating budget, a transportation budget (for roads, highways and transit), and a capital budget (for state buildings and local projects). The biggest point of contention remains the $1.5 billion in new and increased taxes the House Democrats have proposed. Senate Republicans continue to believe the Legislature can and should fully fund the state's obligations without these tax increases. I agree with their position, especially in light of the fact we have over $3 billion in additional revenue for the 2015-17 budget cycle. Raising taxes should always be the last resort and not the first option. However, a compromise is going to have to be reached, and I'm hopeful that happens quickly.
Two of my bills signed into law
Since my last update, two of my bills have been signed into law by the governor.
Under House Bill 1382, the Washington State Fire Marshal will be required to develop and adopt a plan for the Washington State Patrol's Fire Training Academy to deliver basic firefighter training to every public firefighting agency in the state. The bill also establishes an order of priority for the type of firefighting agencies that receive the training, with volunteer fire departments being the first priority. With approximately two-thirds of firefighters in the state being volunteers, the bill will help smaller agencies that don't have the manpower or resources to send men and women to training. By helping to provide the regional training and support that is needed, this legislation is going to positively affect a lot of agencies.
Front row, left to right: Tamara Warnke, Washington Firefighters Association; T.J. Nedrow, President of the Washington Firefighters Association; Sen. Ann Rivers; Gov. Jay Inslee; myself; my wife Dinah Griffey; Amber Oliver, my Legislative Assistant.
Back row, left to right: Chuck Duffy, Washington State Fire Marshal; Ryan Spiller, Washington Fire Commissioners Association; Roger Ferris, Executive Secretary of the Washington Fire Commissioners Association; Jim Farrell, President of the Washington Fire Commissioners Association; Dylan Doty, Washington Fire Chiefs Association.
House Bill 1962 will prohibit county auditors from displaying or releasing Social Security numbers collected when filing the registration information of process servers. Process servers primarily file court papers, retrieve documents, and serve legal documents to people involved in court cases. I prime-sponsored the bill after learning that some counties were providing process servers' Social Security numbers through public information requests. Because of this bill, these individuals will no longer need to be concerned about having their identity stolen or their credit destroyed due to the disclosure of their Social Security number by a county auditor. It is a long-overdue reform.
Back row from left: Pat Tarzwell; Sandy Tarzwell; my daughter Sarah
Front row from left: Amber Oliver, my Legislative Assistant; Ted Trask, Mason County Legal Process Service; Gov. Jay Inslee; myself and my grandson William; my wife Dinah Griffey.
Working with Mason County community leaders to organize a job fair
In light of Simpson Lumber's announcement last Tuesday that it would be closing its mills in Shelton, Rep. Drew MacEwen and I have been working with Mason County community leaders to coordinate a job fair.
Simpson's mills are being sold to California-based Sierra Pacific Industries, which says it will not continue to operate them, but instead build a new mill in Shelton that's expected to be operational sometime in 2017. Last month, Shelton-based Olympic Panel Products announced that it was being bought by Swanson Group Manufacturing and relocated to Springfield, Oregon.
Both of these announcements have been devastating for hundreds of families in our county, so now is the time we must come together as a community in order to quickly find new jobs for the employees of both companies. Rep. MacEwen and I will continue to work with the Mason County Economic Development Council, as well as other groups, to help however we can.
If you own or know of a business that is hiring, please contact my office or send an email to Lynn Longan, executive director of the Mason County Economic Development Council.
I want to continue to hear from you, so please get in touch with me with any comments, questions or concerns you may have. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and my phone number is (360) 786-7966.
It is an honor to serve you in the state House of Representatives.