Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We've concluded the second week of the 2020 session. This year, I've taken on a new responsibility. House leadership recently selected me to serve on the Appropriations Committee. This committee considers fiscal matters for the state, including the biennial operating budget, supplement budget, and other bills with large financial impacts.
The House Appropriations Committee
I'm excited to roll up my sleeves and work on the financial challenges facing our state. Tax-hike proponents consistently claim there's not enough money. However, it's apparent from the state's budget numbers that we have ample tax revenue. Our robust economy continues to produce a significant surplus. The “chronic” budget problems in our state stem from overspending and misplaced priorities.
Here's the truth: tax increases allow politicians to avoid reforms and accountability. It's time to expect more from our state government. Taxpayers deserve and need a break. As a member of this critical committee, I'm committed to increasing oversight and reducing costs.
Comprehensive Sex Education
Over 100 people lined up outside the committee hearing room in Olympia a few days ago to testify on a controversial sex education bill. House Bill 2184 would mandate comprehensive sexual health education for all K-12 students, including children as young as kindergarten through third grade. Ninety-seven people signed up to testify, but only 16 were given the opportunity to do so in the House Education Committee before time ran out.
I'm strongly opposed to this measure. Many aspects of this bill are disturbing, including the graphic nature of the curriculum. State government has no business mandating what should be a local school board decision. If you are opposed to this bill, I strongly urge you to contact members of the House Education Committee with your feedback. You can do so by clicking on this link or calling the legislative hotline at (800) 562-6000.
Legislative update videos
Prior to the legislative session, I recorded several videos at various sites around the 14th District. One of those includes a visit to the Children's Village in Yakima. Last year, I co-sponsored the state funding proposal for the expansion of the facility. Click here to watch.
I also met with ranchers and farmers in Goldendale to discuss some of their concerns about state trust lands. Click here to watch.
And finally, right here in Olympia, I recorded a quick update on my activities so far this session. Click here for that information.
Helping farmers and ranchers
Last year, I sponsored a bill that sought better protections for farmers and ranchers leasing state trust lands. After months of hard work, and numerous meetings with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), I was able to find a workable solution that balances the needs of farmers and ranchers with the interests of the state.
Many times, when a lease is terminated, farmers and ranchers suffered devastating financial challenges. House Bill 2498 would provide compensation to ranchers and farmers whose land leases are ended early by DNR. My bill would ensure that the state reimburses lessees for some of those losses, including infrastructure investments like fencing and other improvements. Stay tuned. I will keep you updated on the progress of this bill throughout the session.
Telephone town hall meeting
I want to hear from you! That's why I'm hosting a town hall meeting with my seatmate, Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, on Feb. 4, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. To participate, call us during that time at (509) 408-2394. We will be providing an update on the legislative session and answer your questions.
The Washington Ledger
The House Republican Caucus has recently introduced a news aggregator called The Ledger. It's a great source for up-to-date information on public policy, bills and other legislative news.
If you have questions, comments or concerns about state government-related issues or bills before the Legislature, please do not hesitate to contact me.
It's an honor to serve you.