Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Election year restrictions have ended, giving me the opportunity to again communicate with you via email updates and seek your input through an electronic survey.
A lot has happened since my last email update to you April 28. Earlier this week, I was honored to once again be elected by my House Republican colleagues as their leader. Read more about it here. We remain a dedicated, talented and compassionate group of 48 House Republican members out of 98 seats in the state House.
Although we had hoped to pick up more seats which would have put Republicans in charge of the state House, the November election didn't change our numbers from the previous year. With 50 members, Democrats continue to hold a thin majority in the House. But our close margin has proven to bring more bipartisanship to the table as we seek solutions for the challenges facing our state.
A great 39th District team
We have some new and returning faces in the House Republican Caucus following this election. I am pleased to welcome John Koster, R-Arlington, back to the House of Representatives as my seatmate to serve the 39th District. John previously served three terms in the House in the late 1990s, representing the 39th District, but left at the end of 2000 and went on to serve for several years as a Snohomish County councilman. John knows the district well and is familiar with our local issues. Working together with John and Sen. Kirk Pearson, you can be assured of strong leadership and representation for the 39th District during the 2017 session that begins Jan. 9. That will be important because we have many critical issues to address in the coming session.
Education funding likely to dominate 2017 session
Topping those critical issues of the scheduled 105-day session will be the creation of a new two-year state budget that funds K-12 education. Nearly five years ago, the state Supreme Court ruled in what is known as “The McCleary Decision” that the Legislature had not been meeting its constitutional duty to fully fund basic education. With bipartisan support, I'm proud to say the Legislature has provided an additional $4.6 billion for K-12 education during the last four years. This is the largest increase of education funding in the history of our state and represents a permanent increase of 34 percent.
The biggest remaining question of McCleary is how to shift the cost burden for K-12 teacher pay and other basic education expenses away from voter-approved levies and onto state government. What that means is that state government will need to take on the responsibility of those expenses to replace a large part of levies. That portion of addressing McCleary will likely dominate much of the session.
I believe we must prioritize K-12 in the operating budget rather than resort to raising taxes to satisfy the court's McCleary expectations. I welcome your comments and suggestions as we work to find solutions to these issues.
Stemming the increasing tide of heroin abuse
In 2003, Rolling Stone Magazine highlighted the rapidly-growing plague of crystal meth in rural areas across the United States and pointed to Granite Falls as a particular problem area, calling it, “Methville.” At the time, the drug was cheap to make from chemicals found on store shelves, including ephedrine – commonly found in over-the-counter sinus medications. Meth was ruining lives, increasing crime, and making neighborhoods dangerous to live in as “meth houses” cropped up. Subsequently, the Legislature took action to limit the amount of ephedrine sold at one time to customers, and to require customers to show ID and sign for the purchase. This effectively made it harder for people to manufacture meth and drove up the price of the drug.
While meth is no longer the epidemic it once was in our district, another drug — heroin — has taken its place in popularity and affordability. As I have spoken to our local citizens, I've learned heroin use is rapidly becoming a serious problem in our district and across the state. I'm very concerned with the devastating effects this drug could potentially have in our area. I'd like to know if it is a problem/concern in your community. This is one of the questions in my survey I hope you will complete.
SURVEY – Checking The Pulse of the 39th District
Your feedback is most important to me as we work to identify and solve issues affecting both the 39th District and the state. Occasionally, I like to “check the pulse” of our district by various means. One of those ways is through an electronic survey. Please click here and take a moment to fill out my short survey to let me know what is important to you as we prepare for the 2017 legislative session.
Commenting on bills
Your input also greatly affects the output of the Legislature. There are many ways to be involved with the legislative process. One way is to visit the Capitol and testify on proposed bills. Here's a website that tells you how to participate in the process. If you don't have time to come to Olympia, you can go online to comment on proposed bills. Just go to this website, enter a bill number, and click on “Comment on this bill.” It's that simple.
Here are some other helpful links you can access through your computer, smart phone or tablet:
- The Capitol Buzz | A weekday round-up of online news stories. Click on the link to subscribe.
- The Current | An online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans. Click on the link to subscribe.
- My legislative website | Please consider bookmarking my legislative website at: www.RepresentativeDanKristiansen.com. Here you will find my contact information, bio, news releases, e-mail updates, videos, opinion pieces, bills and other information.
- My SoundCloud audio page | You can listen to my radio interviews from this site.
- My photo gallery | You can find photos of me on my Flickr account.
- TVW | The state's own version of C-SPAN, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
- Legislature's website | You can find bill reports, committee agendas and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature here.
- Capitol Campus activities and events | Find a calendar of events here.
- Legislative Hotline | 1-800-562-6000.
- State agencies | You can find a list of all state agencies, boards and commissions here.
Keeping in touch
During the legislative session, I will be sending out frequent email updates such as this one to keep you informed of the activities in the Legislature. If you know anyone else who would like to receive this communication, tell them to go to my website: http://www.RepresentativeDanKristiansen.com and subscribe to my email updates.
Also, please feel free to contact my office any time you have questions, comments or suggestions about state government and legislation. I'm glad to help.
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve you!
In your service,