Dear Friends and Neighbors,
With only 38 days remaining of the scheduled 60-day regular session, time is slipping by fast as committees attempt to hear and pass policy bills before this coming Friday, Feb. 5. That's the deadline for all policy bills from their house of origin to be reported from their committees in both the House and Senate.
Democrats block public hearings on bills of statewide significance
Unfortunately, Democrats who chair House committees have refused to schedule public hearings on some major bills that Washington's citizens at large have told us are very important.
House Joint Resolution 4215 – Two-thirds tax constitutional amendment: In November, voters approved Initiative 1366. The measure requires the Legislature to send a constitutional amendment to the November 2016 ballot that would ask voters if they wish for the Legislature to have a supermajority (two-thirds of both chambers) vote to raise taxes, or allow taxes to be raised by a simple majority of voters. Two weeks ago, a King County Superior Court Judge declared I-1366 unconstitutional, throwing out the measure.
Citizens have approved the two-thirds tax vote requirement SIX times. Each time, the requirement has been invalidated.
House Republicans have introduced House Joint Resolution 4215. The measure would send voters an amendment to the state constitution that would require a two-thirds majority vote of the Legislature to raise taxes. Unfortunately, the Democratic chair in the House Finance Committee has refused to schedule a public hearing for the measure. We also tried a procedural motion to bring the resolution straight to the floor for a vote, but it failed on party lines, with Democrats again blocking advancement of the measure.
House Bill 2367 – Charter schools: The Democratic chair of the House Education Committee has put a hold on bipartisan legislation that would reinstitute charter schools in Washington. This is legislation that has strong support from both Republicans and Democrats and would likely pass out of the House Education Committee if allowed to move forward.
House Bill 2312 – I-405 toll lanes: Another measure they've bottled up in the House Transportation Committee is I-405 toll lane reforms. Since WSDOT placed toll lanes on I-405 and removed a couple of general purpose lanes for use, traffic congestion has become a nightmare. This not only affects constituents in Democrat districts such as Kirkland, Redmond and Bellevue, but it is also affecting commuters in the lower half of the 39th District into Monroe.
House Bill 2589 – Transgender restroom rules: The Democratic chair of the House Judiciary Committee says she will not allow any bill to move forward that would change the state Human Rights Commission mandate. The rules, made by the commission just after Christmas with little public notice or input, make it illegal for business owners to limit sex-specific facilities such as bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms to persons with the anatomical parts of one sex. House Republicans have introduced legislation that would repeal the Human Rights Commission rule, but the committee chair has put a hold on it.
Just a footnote, the Human Rights Commission met last Thursday to consider a citizens' petition to repeal their new transgender restroom rules. The commission voted unanimously against the repeal.
Take action now!
By refusing to hold public hearings on these key issues, Democrats are blocking not only a vote on these bills, but shutting out the public completely from providing their input.
We have a saying in Olympia: “Silence is agreement.” If you want these bills to move forward, you need to speak up and make your voice heard to these chairs. I would highly recommend you contacting the Democratic chairs and Democratic members on each of these committees and asking that a public hearing be scheduled BEFORE the Feb. 5 cutoff.
Here are links to the committees' contact information:
- House Joint Resolution 4215 (Initiative 1366) – House Finance Committee
- Charter schools – House Bill 2367 – House Education Committee
- I-405 toll lanes – House Bill 2312 – House Transportation Committee
- Transgender measure – House Bill 2935 – House Judiciary Committee
Rep. Kristiansen sounds off on radio/video about Democrats' refusal to hear bills
On Jan. 20, I took to the airwaves on the Todd Herman Show on Seattle's KTTH 'The Truth' to discuss the frustration of many that Democratic committee chairs are blocking public hearings on these important bills mentioned above. I invite you to click on the banner below to listen to the program. You can also watch my legislative video here.
This week in Olympia
Here are some select House committee hearings going on this week at the John L. O'Brien Building, across from the state Capitol. Please note that the listing below is strictly for informational purposes and does not mean I am advocating for or against any of the bills below.
For a full agenda of the House committees, go here. To learn how to testify in committee, go here. Click here if you are planning to come to the Washington State Legislature in Olympia. If you'd like to look up a bill, go to the Legislature's Bill Information Page. Finally, you can track bills by creating an account and going to the tracking page here.
Public Safety Committee – House Hearing Room D – 8 a.m.
Law enforcement assisting DOC supervise offenders – Hearing on House Bill 2704
Increasing seriousness level of rape 1/rape of a child 1 – Hearing on House Bill 2705
No time limit for prosecuting felony sex offenses – Hearing on House Bill 2873
Prohibiting marijuana, alcohol, cell phone in prison – Hearing on House Bill 2900
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 3
Agriculture and Natural Resources – House Hearing Room B – 8 a.m.
Conflict management: Rural communities and wolves – Work session
Prescribed burning and air quality – Hearing on House Bill 2928
GPS use by wildland firefighters – Hearing on House Bill 2924
Livestock access during fire suppression – Hearing on House Bill 2925
THURSDAY, FEB 4
Committees mostly doing executive sessions
Please contact my office if you have any questions about these or other issues regarding state government. My contact information is below.
In your service,