2009 Legislative session – Wins and losses

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The 2009 legislative session adjourned April 26. Although the governor may call the Legislature into special session, it's time to look back at the regular session with my annual thumbs-up/thumbs down list.

Thumbs up: Eryk's Law – HB 2279
Named after a Lake Stevens boy who was nearly beaten to death by a family friend who was babysitting him, this measure prohibits convicted child abusers from working with children under the age of 13 in a paid or volunteer capacity.

Thumbs down: Felon voting rights – HB 1517
Gives felons voting rights once they have been released from jail, but before they have paid restitution and court fees.

Thumbs up: College textbooks – HB 1025
Requires college-affiliated bookstores to provide a four-week advance notice of course material requirements, giving students additional time to find the best price of the books and instructional materials they need.

Thumbs down: Tuition increases – SB 5734
Removes the 7 percent annual limit in tuition increases. It's expected the four-year universities will now hike tuition by 30 percent over the next two years. That's an additional $601 at Western Washington University.

Thumbs up: Farm structures permitting – SB 5120
Reduces permitting fees on agriculture structures

Thumbs down: Fee increases (numerous bills)
New fees totaling $371 million were added, including a vehicle license tab “opt-out” box if you don't want to pay an additional $5 for parks, an increase in the costs of document recording fees from $10 to $30, and new recreational hunting and fishing license surcharges.

Thumbs up: Farm tax exemptions – HB 1733
Adds horse boarding to open space property tax exemptions.

Thumbs down: Operating budget – HB 1244
Punts hard decisions to the future. The budget uses $4.8 billion in one-time money for on-going programs, and spends more than the last one. It transfers $777 million from the capital budget and adds $8 million in new programs. Consequently, this sets up Washington for another huge deficit when the next budget is written in 2011.

Thumbs up: Right to grow and harvest – SB 5562
Provides protection under the state's “Right to Farm” laws for the passive growing of timber.

Biggest thumbs down – Levy equalization cuts – HB 1776
The Legislature had sufficient time in 105 days to complete its business. Now the governor is considering an $18,000 a day special session to slash levy equalization funds for non-affluent school districts. House Bill 1776 is a reverse Robin Hood measure that would rob from land-poor school districts to give to rich districts. The bill would allow schools to lift their property tax levy lids by 4 percent, helping mostly property-rich districts. It cuts $60 million from levy equalization, money sent from the state to local districts with too little valuable property to tax. If this bill passes, Sedro-Woolley schools could lose $338,922. I will be fighting hard against this bill, to protect teaching positions and ensure the same quality education in Sedro-Woolley as in wealthier school districts.

These are a sampling of the bills that have passed. For a full thumbs up/thumbs down list, go to my Web site at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen and click on 2009 Best and Worst Bills.

EDITOR'S NOTE: State Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, represents the 39th Legislative District, and also serves as chairman of the Washington House Republican Caucus. He can be contacted at (360) 786-7967 or from his Web site at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen.

State Representative Dan Kristiansen, 39th Legislative District
RepresentativeDanKristiansen.com
426A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
dan.kristiansen@leg.wa.gov
360-786-7967 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000