Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It's been a fast-paced, eventful start to the 2018 session. We've already reached the finish line in our committee work with final hearings and executive sessions on policy sponsored by lawmakers in the House. Policy cutoff was Friday, Feb. 2, and fiscal cutoff was Tuesday, Feb. 6. These deadlines keep us, and the legislative process, on track. These deadlines also help you understand which bills are still in play as session continues. For more information on all session deadlines, click here.
Without the Republican backstop in the Senate, we've heard in committee, and passed off the House floor, bills that are more controversial, or just bad policy. I will continue to oppose bad policy, while offering alternative solutions. We will see what the days and weeks to come have in store for us as the marathon begins to vote on all House-sponsored policy. There will be some late nights ahead of us.
Tone | Fiscal transparency | Capital budget-Hirst
For a quick report on the session tone thus far, an in-depth explanation of my fiscal transparency bill, and my thoughts on the passage of the capital budget and Hirst solution, please watch my recent video update. To view, please click on the photo below.
For detailed information on these topics, please continue reading.
House Bill 2636 | Further extending government fiscal responsibility and transparency
I've introduced a bill that would increase the fiscal transparency of state Supreme Court decisions by requiring fiscal notes be created for certain court decisions. This legislation would provide the equivalent type of fiscal transparency for various state Supreme Court rulings that bills, and other regulatory actions, already encounter.
Prior to appointment of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, a nominee is extensively vetted to determine belief sets and positions held. Such may not be the case for our elected Washington State Supreme Court Justices. As a result, providing transparency as to high impact decisions made by the Washington State Supreme Court may allow those voting to elect Supreme Court Justices to better choose a candidate that best matches their own views on our state Constitution.
My bill would direct the Office of Financial Management (OFM), in consultation with the administrative office of the courts, to establish a procedure for the provision of fiscal notes estimating the impact of Washington state Supreme Court decisions that increase or decrease state and local government revenues or expenditures. Members of the legislature, the justices, and the public would be required to obtain the fiscal note impacts by press release. OFM would also be required to maintain a database of all the fiscal notes, similar to the electronic system in place for all legislative bills.
The Hirst compromise and Capital budget
The state Supreme Court's decision, known as Hirst, had detrimental ramifications for our property rights, and water rights. This flawed decision was another example of urban Washington not understanding the needs and rights of our entire state and trying to compromise everyone's way of life. Fortunately, after months of tough negotiations, we reached a bipartisan compromise to remove the uncertainty property owners, homebuilders, banks and counties faced.
The solution redacts the high court's original ruling of “no water” for exempt wells. Now, property owners have a minimum of 950 – 3,000 gallons of water to use per day, while grandfathering in all existing exempt wells prior to the Hirst decision. Cutting off our access to water was unacceptable. I am glad no burden has been placed on property owners by requiring excessive, unnecessary metering. Although water law can be difficult to legislate fairly, this solution protects our water basins and gets Washington building again.
With the compromise of Hirst solved, Gov. Inslee also signed the state's 2017-19 capital budget. This budget funds public works construction projects across our district, and state. Economic growth, needed expansions, and school construction projects are no longer in jeopardy or on hold.
This budget allocates $4.17 billion in total spending, including $2.72 billion in construction bonds. It leaves $211 million for the 2018 supplemental capital budget. It also allocates $933 million for K-12 school construction through the School Construction Assistance Program (SCAP).
Various regional projects funded in this budget include:
- $67 million for the Eastern Washington University Interdisciplinary Science Center
- $52 million for WSU Pullman's Plant Sciences Building
- $23 million for WSU Pullman's Global Animal Health Building
- $1.5 million for the Othello water supply and storage
- $1.25 million for the Adams County industrial wastewater and treatment center
- $1.1 million for the Field Spring replacement (failed sewage system and non-ADA compliance center)
- $1 million for WSU Pullman's STEM teaching lab
- $565,000 for Eastern State Hospital (new broiler plant)
- $209,000 for Palouse Falls day use area renovation
For a complete list of projects, click here.
I will continue to work hard to ensure our families, businesses and communities grow, thrive and prosper.
It's an honor to serve you.