Op-Ed: Challenging issues this session require your input, involvement
State lawmakers return to Olympia next Monday for a scheduled 60-day legislative session. Decisions made by the Legislature could have far-reaching effects for years to come. That's why I'm asking you to pay attention, become involved and let your legislators know how you feel on measures that could impact you, your job and your family.
Here is a preview of several issues I expect to be considered:
Budget and taxes
The Legislature enters this session facing a new budget deficit of nearly $3 billion. The state won't likely get more federal stimulus money, so lawmakers will have to do one of two things:
- Finally get responsible and make the difficult decisions they should have done long ago by cutting spending and setting priorities in the budget which include education, public safety and protecting the most vulnerable; or
- Cave in to the governor and those who wish to continue the current level of spending by raising taxes.
Tax increases would further damage our business climate, hurt families and prolong the state's economic troubles. I will be working for “priorities of government” budgeting that puts the interest of taxpayers and their families first.
With thousands out of work, job creation must be a top priority. My fellow House Republicans and I will be introducing legislation that focuses on creating more jobs in the private sector and reducing costly government regulations against employers. The majority party, however, will likely emphasize retention and expansion of government jobs. Government is already our state's largest employer.
Climate change regulations
On the heels of the governor's return from the Copenhagen climate change summit, expect another push for hefty environmental regulations that will be sold to the public in the form of “creating green jobs.” What you won't hear is how many other jobs will be sacrificed and what it will cost the public. Already pre-filed for introduction is House Bill 2416, which includes the California-conceived regulations that ban “energy-guzzling televisions,” starting in 2011.
Reflecting upon the recent murders of six law enforcement officers, lawmakers will be reviewing ways to keep the public safe. That includes legislation (HJR 4213 and 4214) that would prevent potentially dangerous criminals charged with a serious crime from becoming eligible for bail. Tougher penalties against domestic violence offenders (HB 2427) and anti-gang legislation (HB 2413 and 2414) have also been pre-filed for introduction.
I will be fighting to protect school levy equalization funding the governor has proposed to eliminate. Area schools, including Sedro-Woolley, could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars and many teachers if this funding source is cut or eliminated.
These are but a few of the many issues likely to come before the Legislature in the next two months. I cannot emphasize enough how important your voice is to the process. Here's how you can get involved:
- Follow bills at www.leg.wa.gov.
- Watch TVW coverage of legislative hearings and debates on local cable or online at www.tvw.org
- Call, write or e-mail my office. My contact information is below.
- Call the toll-free legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.
- Come to Olympia to testify on legislation that may affect you.
- Share information with your friends, family and neighbors, and encourage them to also become involved.
Working together, we can ensure our Legislature makes the best decisions for us and our families.
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 e-mail him and sign up for his e-newsletter at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen. His office address is: P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504-0600.