Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2011 Legislature's first cutoff date of Feb. 17 is history. And so are hundreds of bills now considered dead because they failed to win committee approval before the deadline. Fiscal committees that deal with budgets and legislation to implement budgets have until this Friday, Feb. 25, to complete their work.
Hundreds of other bills did pass out of committee during the busy days leading up to the cutoff. That means our focus now shifts from committee work to floor sessions, where all 98 House members have an opportunity to amend, accept or reject the proposals that have cleared the committee process.
Between now and March 7, when House bills must be passed by the full House or wait for another year, we will be in marathon day and evening sessions to meet that deadline. It promises to be a hectic time, but my fellow House Republicans and I are looking forward to the challenge.
You can see a comprehensive “Dead or Alive” list of bills on our House Republican Web site by clicking here.
Although I am disappointed that many good bills did not make it past the cutoff, my focus remains: Getting Washington working again!
The latest unemployment figures for January show that 6,862 people are unemployed in the 39th District, collecting benefits and looking for work. That's the third highest unemployment figure of our 49 legislative districts.
Below are some of our efforts to reduce the jobless rate in Washington.
I also invite your ideas. E-mail me through my Web site at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen or call my office any time you have questions, comments or suggestions.
Let's work together to solve our state's most pressing matter, creation of jobs.
Once again, it is an honor to serve you.
Regulatory reform bill gets hearing, but is placed on hold
Some time back, I received a call from an employer in my district about a huge fine he was receiving from a state agency for an unintentional error in paperwork. This employer was working in good faith with the agency for nearly seven years to properly comply with the state's rules and regulations. When he submitted the required paperwork, the agency approved it every time. But then one day, a new person at the agency took a new look at the paperwork and decided it had not been filled out properly. So rather than going to the employer to help correct the problem, the agency fined this employer $10 thousand a year for a total of $40 thousand for four years of paperwork violations.
More than 14,600 pages of state agency rules and regulations exist in the Washington Administrative Code that businesses are expected to know and comply with. With that in mind, it's easy to understand how small paperwork errors might occur repeatedly – especially if an agency accepts and approves them. However, it's difficult to understand how employers in our state can successfully stay in business if government does not treat them fairly.
I recently introduced legislation to address this problem. House Bill 1436 would prevent state agencies from retroactively imposing fines against a party whose actions were initially approved by the agency, but later found to be in violation.
The measure received a hearing in the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee. However, I was told the bill is on hold because of state agency opposition. Agencies don't like this bill because it could remove a major source of revenue for them. They collect that revenue in the form of fines from employers. With budget shortfalls, many agencies are becoming more aggressive against business owners. And that's chasing employers out of state.
In the example above, that employer expanded in another state, creating approximately 300 jobs.
We need to provide reforms in this state that will rein in aggressive agencies and give employers the breathing room they need to create jobs. Although I'm disappointed this bill was put on hold, I'm continuing to push forward with other legislation that will improve Washington's business climate.
Solutions to get Washington working again
Creating private-sector jobs, protecting taxpayers, and restoring trust and accountability in government: these are the goals of the following “Let's Get Washington Working Again” bills we have offered:
CREATING PRIVATE-SECTOR JOBS
- House Bill 1090 – Will create jobs by protecting employers from dramatic unemployment insurance rate increases. Signed into law by the governor.
- House Bill 1592 – Would have suspend
ed the Growth Management Act in counties and cities where the unemployment rate exceeds 7 percent for three consecutive months. Died in the House Local Government Committee.
- House Bill 1156 – Would have created jobs by putting a freeze on new rules or regulations by state agencies until 2014, or when the economy recovers. Died in the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee.
- House Joint Resolution 4213 – Would make permanent the two-thirds vote requirement to raise taxes by passing a constitutional amendment. Pending in the House Ways and Means Committee.
- House Bill 1687 – Would provide property owners more certainty and fiscal stability by shifting the balance of power when they deal with counties in property tax disputes. Pending in the House Ways and Means Committee.
- House Bill 1672 – Would encourage small business job creation by doubling the small business tax credit. Pending in the House Ways and Means Committee.
RESTORING TRUST AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN GOVERNMENT
- House Bill 1013 – Would have required local governments to notify landowners when they propose to rezone their land. Died in the House Local Government Committee.
- House Bill 1807 – Would make sure all taxes and fees have a clear and explicit basis in law. Pending in the House Ways and Means Committee.
JOIN ME THIS THURSDAY, FEB. 24, FOR A TELEPHONE TOWN HALL MEETING
Please join me for an upcoming telephone town hall meeting on Thursday, Feb. 24, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The call-in radio show format is an opportunity for you to learn more about the 2011 legislative session, ask questions and take part in polls. To participate, dial toll-free 1-877-229-8493, and enter PIN code 15786 when prompted.
In your service,