Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we enter a new month and the fourth week of the scheduled 105-day legislative session, I wanted to take a few minutes to provide this update from Olympia.
Education funding – A new plan without tax increases
Frequently, the Legislature waits until the last minute to do the heavy lifting on the most difficult issues. So I'm glad to see the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) has already released a plan that addresses the final portion of the McCleary K-12 education funding issue.
The MCC approach would implement a flat statewide property tax levy of $1.80 per $1,000 in assessed value, replacing the current system of varying levy rates from district to district. It would also place the current school funding formula with a set minimum funding level of $12,500 per student. Districts whose tax base isn't big enough to reach that minimum under the flat rate would receive additional payments from the state to make up the difference. Not only would it ensure consistent funding for students regardless of their ZIP codes, the Republican approach in the Senate would not rely on tax increases proposed by Gov. Inslee. While I am still evaluating details, I am glad there's a plan on the table to begin discussing.
Koster introduces accountability bills
One of my primary goals as your legislator is to make government accountable to the people it serves, and to restore common sense in Olympia. Here's a quick list of bills I have introduced to accomplish these goals:
- House Bill 1072 – Constitutionality of acts. This measure is in response to what I and many consider the overstepping of bounds by the state Supreme Court in a number of rulings, including education and restriction of new well construction. It would allow the Legislature to affirm the constitutionality of legislative acts and reaffirm the separation of powers among the branches of government. Referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
- House Bill 1240 – Joint Administrative Rules Review Committee (JARRC) agency rule making. This bill would require five of eight votes on this committee to affirm and uphold an agency rule. Without the affirmation, the rule is immediately suspended and the agency must prove to the Legislature it has specific authority to enact the rule. Referred to the House State Government, Elections and Information Technology Committee.
- House Bill 1241 – Agency rule making. This bill would remove general rule making from every state agency, with the exception of the four-year colleges. I believe agencies should have specific rule making authority, not broad authority to promulgate any rule. This would provide further legislative oversight of rule making. Referred to the House State Government, Elections and Information Technology Committee.
- House Bill 1725 – Concealed pistol license holders. The idea for this bill was brought to me by a constituent. If passed, concealed pistol license holders will be exempt from the requirements of Initiative 594 and would no longer be required to undergo background checks when they transfer a firearm between themselves. Referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
- House Bill 1726 – Impacts from wildlife damage. I am concerned the lack of proper elk management by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) has contributed to more than 90 elk strikes by vehicles on Highway 20 (North Cascades Highway) in the past year. This has been costly, not only to vehicle owners, but to local police, fire and medical EMT agencies that respond to these accidents. This measure would require DFW to reimburse local emergency services for the impacts of these animal strikes on highways. Referred to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
- House Bill 1848 – Elk hoof damage. Elk hoof disease poses a significant threat to elk populations and livestock. This measure would allow an elk that exhibits a severe limp in an area where hoof disease is present to be humanely euthanized.
This week in Olympia
Participation in your government is the way you can affect change for the good, now and in the future. Here are some important House committee meetings happening this week in Olympia.
Thursday, Feb. 2
1:30 p.m. – Judiciary Committee – House Hearing Room A – Hearings on:
- House Bill 1387, increasing requirements for background checks on assault weapons.
- House Bill 1122, placing additional requirements on storage of firearms.
Friday, Feb. 3
10 a.m. – State Government, Elections and Information Technology Committee – House Hearing Room E – Hearings on:
- House Bill 1342, electronic return of ballots.
- House Bill 1468, extending voter registration deadlines.
- House Bill 1471 and House Bill 1513, regarding youth voter registration.
To learn more about how you can testify in committee on these bills, click here. You can also go to the bill (use the links above) and comment, using the link “Comment on this bill” on the right hand side of the page.
Mark your calendar for a telephone town hall – Feb. 21
Join me and Rep. Dan Kristiansen for a telephone town hall together on Tuesday, Feb 21, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. To participate in the community conversation, call (425) 616-1855. Similar to a call-in radio show, the format allows you to ask questions, participate in poll questions, or just listen in throughout the hour. We hope you can join us!
If you have any questions regarding the information in this update, please feel free to contact my office. My contact information is below. Thank you for allowing me the privilege to serve and represent you!