Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I am pleased to be back in Olympia working for you. On the first day of session, Jan. 9, it was my honor to raise my right hand and take the oath of office as your state representative from the 39th District. You can read more about that day here.
Then and now. . .
It was 17 years ago that I left the Legislature after serving three terms to be on the Snohomish County Council. At that time, the state budget was $20.5 billion and Washington had a population of 5.9 million. Today, that same budget is $38 billion — nearly double. And if Gov. Inslee gets his way, he would raise $5.3 billion in new taxes on energy, capital income, small businesses, vehicles and bottled water. Inslee's tax increase would balloon to more than $8 billion in the following biennium, growing the state budget to more than $47 billion.
The difference between when I left the Legislature in 2000 and now is government's out-of-control spiraling growth. We are spending more of people's tax dollars than ever before. The governor wants the largest tax increase in the history of the state of Washington. And we have more freedom-restrictive government regulations than ever before.
Many of the problems we had in state government when I last served in the Legislature are still here. They've not been solved. Instead, they've just grown and intensified by leaps and bounds.
That's one of the reasons why I've returned. We need to rein in out-of-control government, restore accountability and make government responsive to the people it serves.
I was pleased to be assigned to three House committees:
State Government Committee – It is an honor to be chosen in a leadership position as ranking Republican on this committee. The State Government Committee considers how state agencies operate — and specifically their rulemaking authority. I am especially interested in this area and working to rein in excessive agency rulemaking.
We have thousands of pages of state agency regulations known as the Washington Administrative Code. State agencies employ people full time just to write these regulations. This is in addition to the thousands of pages of laws passed by the Legislature, known as the Revised Code of Washington. Every regulation is one more freedom taken away from you and me, and all our citizens.
In my new capacity as the leading Republican on the State Government Committee, I plan to work to apply the brakes to these state agencies and inject some accountability into the rulemaking process. In that regard, I have introduced two measures:
- House Bill 1240 – Would revise the responsibilities of the Legislature's Joint Administrative Rules Review Committee to increase legislative oversight of agency rulemaking. This would make sure elected lawmakers have the opportunity to review and weigh in on agency rules proposed by non-elected agency bureaucrats.
- House Bill 1241 – Would increase legislative oversight of agency rulemaking. This measure has more teeth. It basically restricts state agencies from general rulemaking authority and would require specific rulemaking authority for future regulations. This one might be a little more controversial — but the point is to get the conversation started. We need to cut the bureaucratic regulatory red tape machine in Olympia.
Capital Budget – I am pleased to have also been appointed to this committee, which drafts and negotiates the state capital budget. This is the budget which pays for construction and repair of public buildings and for other long-term investments, such as land acquisitions and transfers.
Rules – It is my honor to serve alongside my seatmate, House Republican Leader Rep. Dan Kristiansen, on the House Rules Committee. This is really one of the most powerful committees in the House, because it decides which legislation will advance to the floor for a vote. Many bad bills are held up in the Rules Committee where they quietly die, often for good reason. However, we have the ability to advance good legislation from this committee for a vote.
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.
Wednesday, Jan. 18
3:30 p.m. – Appropriations Committee – House Hearing Room A – Work sessions on higher education funding and natural resources funding.
3:30 p.m. – Transportation Committee – House Hearing Room B – Megaprojects update (includes I-5 HOV lanes and I-90 Snoqualmie Pass); Work session on Nickel and Transportation Partnership Act retrospective.
3:30 p.m. – Appropriations Committee – House Hearing Room A – Work session overview of K-12 public school funding.
Friday, Jan. 20
8 a.m. – Finance Committee – House Hearing Room A – Oil spill tax increase.
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.
Seeking active young people to serve as pages
Do you know someone between the ages of 14 and 16 (has not yet turned 17) who would like to serve as a page in the House of Representatives? Positions are still available! Pages spend a week at the state Capitol, carrying out various duties such as presenting the flags to operational chores like distributing amendments during legislative sessions. Each job is vital to the efficient operation of the Legislature. If you know of someone who is interested, have them contact my office. You can also get more information at this website, including a page application.
Listen to my radio interviews
In the past week, I have been a guest on two radio stations. I invite you to listen to the interviews:
- Jan. 12 – Rep. John Koster with Jeff Rex on KBRC/KAPS, Mount Vernon
- Jan. 17 – Rep. John Koster with Ed Bremer on KSER, Everett
E-mail updates, now and in the future
As a member of the Washington State House of Representatives, I send occasional email updates designed to keep you informed about the issues being debated in the Legislature that may impact our communities and Washington state. If you think you received this message in error, or do not want to receive email updates from me, simply click on the link below to unsubscribe from my email list.
However, if you like to stay informed on issues affecting the 39th District and Washington state, I encourage you to not only stay on this list (by doing nothing), but also sharing this email with your friends and neighbors. Ask them to go to my website to sign up: www.RepresentativeJohnKoster.com. Look for the button on the left side of the screen that says, “Sign up for my email updates!”
Here's how to contact me
Hearing from you is a vital part of my job as your state representative. I encourage you to contact me any time you have questions, comments or suggestions about state government and legislation. You'll find all of my contact information at the bottom of this page.
It is an honor and a pleasure to be back in Olympia serving you!