Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are in a very busy time of the 2017 legislative session. This coming Wednesday will mark the halfway point of our scheduled 105 days at the state Capitol.
Deadlines focus our efforts on surviving bills
The Legislature has specific dates to keep the process moving so that we can finish our business within the allotted time. Friday, Feb. 17 was the “cutoff” for bills from their house of origin to be passed out by their respective policy committees. This past Friday, Feb. 24 was the deadline for fiscal bills (measures that spend money) to be passed out of their respective house-of-origin committees. Bills that did not make it out of their House and Senate committees by those dates are considered “dead” for the session. The exception is legislation necessary to implement the budget. Of course, bills can be “resurrected” any time the Legislature is in session.
The deadlines ensure only the most important bills advance, and they winnow the volume down to a manageable level as we move forward. To date, 1,159 House bills have been introduced. Of those, 718 have passed their respective committees and have been sent to the House Rules Committee, which decides the bills that advance to the House floor. Not all bills will be sent to the floor. Many will die in the Rules Committee.
Between now and March 8, the house-of-origin cutoff, we will be spending most of our time on the House floor, all day and even into the evening, voting on surviving bills that are sent to us from the Rules Committee. Bills passed from the House are then sent to the Senate to start the process all over again. Here is a look at our calendar for this coming week.
House Democrats pass unfunded education bill
In my last email update to you two weeks ago, I discussed two competing proposals, one from Senate Republicans and the other from House Democrats, that had been introduced to address the McCleary court ruling. At that time, Senate Republicans had already passed their proposal, The One Washington Education Equality Act. This past Wednesday, House Democrats passed their proposal, House Bill 1843 out of the House on a party-line vote, 50-47.
Reasons I joined my fellow House Republicans in voting against the House Democrat bill:
- It has no funding source, no meaningful reforms and no protections to prevent future lawsuits.
- The state Supreme Court said the Legislature must end its overreliance on local levies to fund basic education and create a more equitable teacher compensation system. The Democrat bill would actually INCREASE the amount of local levies that districts can collect, creating an even larger dependence for those local monies, which would most likely put us back into court again for McCleary 2.0. Plus it would continue unlimited, unfair local bargaining for teacher compensation and benefits, again putting us in violation of the court.
- While the bill has an ample wish list, House Democrats fail to show how they would pay for it, leaving people wondering which taxes they would create or raise. They have a list of possible tax increases that have been introduced, but they've not advanced any of these bills, because the Democrats don't even have enough of their own votes to pass their own tax package.
- The measure would ensure wealthy school districts continue generating more funding per student at a lower property tax rate than in most of the 39th District.
House Republicans proposed seven amendments to ensure the bill would make our K-12 funding system ample, equitable and accountable. All but one of the amendments were rejected by majority Democrats.
The Senate Republican education funding bill is dead in the House and the House Democrat bill is dead on arrival in the Senate. The good news is that negotiations can now finally begin on a serious McCleary compromise funding plan that hopefully brings common sense solutions to the table and provides legislation that garners bipartisan support.
Important education funding debate links
- Listen to my KBRC/KAPS radio interview on the education funding debate.
- Watch my legislative update video.
- Watch the House floor debate on House Bill 1843.
- Watch House Republican floor speeches.
Hundreds join 39th District telephone town hall with Reps. Dan Kristiansen and John Koster
I'd like to take a moment to thank all who joined last Tuesday, Feb. 21 in our telephone town hall. We had more than 400 participants, many of whom asked questions and participated in our telephone survey.
We learned from those surveys that 71 percent of the participants do not support a capital gains income tax. A majority also told us they want the Legislature to not only increase K-12 education funding, but enact education reforms.
Keep informed and involved!
The telephone town hall is a great way to provide us input. However, I'd like to encourage you to continue contacting my office via phone, email, letters and by appointment in-person as we vote on legislation. Your silence is consent, so speak up, become involved, be heard and make a difference! You'll find my contact information below. Thank you for the opportunity to allow me to serve and represent you!
In your service,