Rep. Dan Kristiansen: House Republicans stand up for citizens, education in rules debate
House Republicans stand up for citizens, education in rules debate
By Rep. Dan Kristiansen – Special to the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce
During the November election, voters across Washington passed Initiative 1185 by 64 percent. In the 39th District, this measure that requires two-thirds of the Legislature's approval before taxes could be increased, passed by an even wider margin – by 72 percent. In fact, the measure passed in every county of the state. It seems very clear Washington voters want a higher threshold for tax increases and they want to make sure state government lives within its means. Those same two-thirds provisions have been approved repeatedly by Washington's voters in previous initiatives. It is the people's will. And yet, somehow, government always seems to think it knows what's best for the people – even when citizens have spoken loud and clear.
A handful of Democratic legislators have challenged the two-thirds provisions in the state Supreme Court. It's expected the court will issue a ruling before this legislative session ends on April 27. That's one of the reasons why House Republicans proposed an amendment on Feb. 1 to place the taxpayer protection provisions into House rules, so that regardless of how the court decides, the two-thirds requirement would stay intact.
We should respect the will of the people. Legislators should also respect and defend the state Constitution. It is the oath we take as we assume office. Washington's constitution says it is the “paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.” The state Supreme Court has ruled the Legislature has failed in that constitutional duty. That's why my House Republican colleagues and I believe we should fund education with the first dollars in the state budget, not the last. We also proposed an amendment to the rules that would require the House to fund education first.
Unfortunately, majority Democrats rejected both proposals on a party-line vote – even though one would protect the will of the people and the other would place the state's paramount duty into action.
Republicans also proposed an amendment to House rules that gives citizens priority to testify in committee ahead of lobbyists and state agencies. We believe this is the people's house. And if you've driven four, five, six hours or whatever, you should not have to wait until after the Olympia insiders have had their say – or even worse – be told there is no time left for you. That's wrong. Fortunately, legislators from both parties realized this Legislature needs to respect the citizens who have sent us here. Citizens come first. This amendment passed unanimously.
Standing up for citizens and doing what is right – that's why you elected me. And that's why we will continue to have these debates during this legislative session.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, serves as chairman of the Washington House Republican Caucus and represents the 39th Legislative District. His office address is: P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504-0600. Sign up for his e-mail update at houserepublicans.wa.gov/dan-kristiansen.
###Washington State House Republican Communications