Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2011 legislative session convened this past Monday, Jan. 10. Some predict this may be one of the most difficult legislative sessions in history because of deep deficits in the state budget. In total, we're going to need to close a gap of more than $6 billion. Many of those in Olympia who wish to maintain the status quo are predicting doom and gloom this session. However, I see this session differently and as an opportunity to make long-needed reforms in state government.
Many families, individuals and employers are struggling to get by and they've had to tighten their belts and live within their means. For too long, however, it's been business as usual in Olympia. Much like families and small businesses have done, it's time for state government to prioritize, reset, and adjust to economic realities.
That means adopting a budget that addresses the needs, not the wants, of state government. My Republican colleagues and I believe the priorities of state government are education, public safety, and the protection of our most vulnerable.
If a state program is not a priority, we need to question whether it should exist. And we must review all state agencies to see if what they are doing can be carried out in a more cost-effective way. I can assure you as issues arise, the best interests of the citizens in the 39th District will be my first and last consideration.
Aside from the budget, we have to focus on helping employers retain and create jobs. Ultimately, that is another solution to our state's budget crisis.
I strongly encourage you to become informed by reading and sharing my e-mail updates with your friends and neighbors – and then become involved. It will take all of us collectively as a state to pull through this economic crisis. I'm confident we can do it and become a better Washington for our children and generations to come.
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve you.
Governor agrees with Republicans: We need bold solutions to solve the state budget crisis
In her state of the state address Tuesday, Gov. Chris Gregoire said it will take “bold steps” to move Washington out of its budget crisis. She added lawmakers must realize that government can't “do it all.” (Click here to read my news release on the governor's speech.)
It was a welcomed change to hear the governor finally agree with many of the things my fellow Republicans and I have been saying for years. After all, this is the same governor who has pushed for higher spending and bigger government since first elected to office in 2004. Since the recession struck, many families have been forced to make changes in their own budgets. It is encouraging the governor is finally waking up to the realities of this economy – and reaching out.
Gov. Gregoire recently accepted my invitation to address the House Republican Caucus. She met with us Wednesday and we had an informal and candid conversation.
As the session progresses, the governor said she will insist on having Republicans and Democrats at the table working for solutions. We have solutions and we're ready to bring them forward once again. It's my hope this spirit of bipartisanship continues throughout the scheduled 105-day session so we can close this budget gap and create policies that will get Washington back to work.
Committee assignments focus on transportation, energy, and more efficient government
I am pleased to be a member of four committees this legislative session. Two are House standing committees: the Transportation Committee and the Technology, Energy and Communications Committee. In general, the House Transportation Committee focuses on the transportation budget, sources of revenue, and problems facing agencies such as the Department of Transportation and the Washington State Patrol.
The focal points of the Technology, Energy and Communications hearings include production and conservation of energy, as well as regulation of technology and other forms of communication.
The other two are joint committees comprised of both House and Senate members. The Joint Administrative Rules Review Committee (JARRC) exercises legislative oversight over executive agency rule-making and ensures rules are consistent with the intent of the Legislature. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) works to make state government operations more effective, efficient, and accountable by conducting performance audits, program evaluations, sunset reviews, and other analyses.
As you may be aware, the public can attend committee meetings regarding many of the issues our state must address. Please make use of this opportunity if you can take the time out of your busy schedule. A list of committee dates and times can be found online at www.leg.wa.gov/legislature/pages/calendar.aspx. Here you can find the hearing room locations, topics to be presented, and more useful information under the agendas link. If you have a particular interest in a committee and want to receive notices on meeting times, a link is provided. This may be useful, if for instance you would like to be kept up to date on the comin
gs and goings of your district legislators.
This is YOUR government. Get informed and involved.
Decisions made by your elected officials here in Olympia can have a direct impact on your lives across the state of Washington. I urge you to provide me with insight and knowledge pertaining to our district. Please help me represent the entire 39th District by letting your voices be heard through any of the numerous outlets available to you, the constituent. This advice was implied with impressive fashion at the conclusion of Rep. Ann Rivers' response to the governor's state of the state address. “We ask you to join us and be a part of the solutions. Please write a letter, send an e-mail, call the toll-free hotline, or testify before a committee. Be the '12th Man' of your citizen Legislature.”
Providing opinions on hot topics is just one of your options to show interest. Other measures can be taken by the public to maintain active involvement in state policy. To keep track of the bills being discussed during the legislative session, online bill tracking is an easy method of research. By visiting the Washington State Legislature's home page, http://www.leg.wa.gov/pages/home.aspx, you can follow the links and search for bills from a variety of approaches. From this home page you can click on the Bill Search tab, and then search for a particular bill. Depending on your knowledge of the bill (topic, sponsorship, committee) a quick bill summary is accessible. Down below the search browser is a list of “Highlights” of the 2011 session. There you can find the “Bills by Sponsor” link. It may be a good starting point in your research about your district because it gives you a list of bills sponsored by any legislator you choose to look up. To see my primary sponsored bills, enter “Kristiansen” in the space and select the bullet next to Primary Bills.
Finally, I encourage you to share this e-mail with your friends, family and neighbors. If they wish to sign up to receive my e-mail update, have them click here to subscribe.
In your service,