Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Only 11 days remain of the 105-day regular legislative session, which is scheduled to adjourn April 26. Both the House and Senate have rolled out their respective proposals for the operating, capital and transportation budgets. All have passed their respective chambers. Negotiations on each of these important budget items are ongoing.
Last week in my e-newsletter, I gave you a glimpse of the differences between the proposed House and Senate operating budgets. Since then, our staff has worked up an even better and more accurate comparison, which you can see here. . .
Since today is April 15, “tax day,” it is appropriate to talk about taxes and what I'm trying to do to keep more money in your pockets. As I mentioned in this e-newsletter last week, Washington is getting a record increase of tax revenue — an additional $3 billion under our current system. And that's without tax increases. We don't need to raise taxes as the Democrats have proposed. We simply should prioritize between our “needs” and our “wants.” That means making some difficult, but reasonable decisions among the two parties' budget writers in the House and Senate who have proposed competing operating budget proposals. As the leader of the House Republican Caucus, I am working to bring all sides together to negotiate an operating budget proposal that is sustainable and fiscally responsible for the state of Washington.
Last month, in both The Arlington Times and The Marysville Globe, an article was published entitled, “This is what your lawmakers are doing in Marysville and Arlington.” It listed the number of bills sponsored by local lawmakers and a brief description of some of those measures. It also said “Rep. Dan Kristianson has sponsored 0 (zero) bills.”
Although the newspaper misspelled my name, it is correct that I have not sponsored any bills this session. However, before you make a judgment about that, I would invite you to read my response to the newspaper, which you can find below.
The newspaper's editor declined my response, saying: “If I give Kristiansen a chance to explain, then I have to give all of the others a chance to explain. And we don't have room for that.”
There is room in this e-newsletter for that explanation, which I believe is important. I always try in my correspondence to help educate the public about the legislative process. Volume of bills sponsored is not an accurate measure of effectiveness in Olympia, as you will see in the article below.
Please contact my office with your questions, comments and suggestions about any issues in this e-newsletter or other matters relating to legislation and state government. It is an honor to serve and represent you!
Effective leadership in Olympia is not measured by volume of bill sponsorships
By Rep. Dan Kristiansen
Recently, an article appeared in the Arlington Times which asked the question: “Are your lawmakers doing what you want them to in Olympia?” The article listed several local lawmakers, the number of bills they have sponsored, and a brief description of several of those measures. It also read “Rep. Dan Kristianson (sic) has sponsored 0 (zero) bills.” That's a stark difference from the other lawmakers listed.
The average reader may take this as, “Wow, no bills! So what is Rep. Kristiansen doing in Olympia?”
Here's my response to help readers and constituents understand that I am working very hard on their behalf.
In total, since first taking office in 2003, I have sponsored 34 bills, four resolutions (these are to honor notable people and groups in Washington) and one joint memorial (which is a letter to the president and Congress). I'm proud to say seven of those bills became law and all of the resolutions were adopted.
Anyone who truly knows the inner-workings of the Legislature, understands statistics like these are meaningless. If volume of bills was an accurate measurement, it might be argued that one senator was most effective because he introduced 136 bills during a biennium several years ago. The most infamous of his legislation was a proposal to allow dogs in bars. Incidentally, he's no longer in the Legislature.
My role as a legislator is far greater than how many bills I sponsor during a session. Communicator, problem solver, negotiator, diplomat, mediator: these are skills of effectiveness that good legislators bring to the table that cannot be measured in bill sponsorships. It is because of these skills that my caucus chose me to become House Republican leader two years ago. That's just one step away from the highest honored position in the House – that of Speaker.
Frank Chopp is the longest serving Speaker in the Washington State House of Representatives. In 16 years, Speaker Chopp has introduced 45 resolutions honoring various people, but he has not sponsored or passed any of his own bills. Zero! This is common for a leader in the House.
As a state representative, I am not only representing my own district, answering phone calls, e-mails and letters from constituents, meeting with them, working to solve government-related problems for them, and doing all as I did in the past, but as House Republican leader, my role is now broader. Two years ago, I helped bring Senate Republicans and House Democrats together during contentious budget negotiations. They used my office as a neutral ground for discussions – “Switzerland” as one lawmaker called it – and I worked to facilitate communications. This helped to produce a bipartisan budget – the first in more than a decade – and we averted a government shutdown.
Frequently, when a constituent brings me a good idea for legislation, I will give that to other legislators for sponsorship so they can get the credit. As leader, I am also the “big picture” guy looking at issues with a broad wide-angle lens, becoming the conscience in the room, and bringing people from all sides together, including the governor, as we discuss what is most important and best for the citizens of Washington.
Effective leadership and representation of one's district is not accurately measured by the amount of bills a legislator introduces. It is measured by how involved and engaged a legislator is in his or her district and in bringing the voice of the people to Olympia as we represent them at the state Capitol. That's what I'm doing as your representative and as leader of the Washington House Republican Caucus.
In your service,