Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Lawmakers are now more than halfway done with the 2019 legislative session. Since my last update, both the House and Senate reached a major deadline – house of origin cutoff. This means bills that did not pass out of the chamber they originated in are now dead for the remainder of the session, unless they're deemed necessary to implement the budget. As a result, both chambers were on the floor almost every day for the past two weeks, passing bills over to the other chamber before time ran out.
In this update, I'll talk about a few of the bills that made their way through the legislative process, some bills that died, my efforts to bring remote testimony opportunities to the state House, and much more.
While you can always email, call, or send a letter to my office with your thoughts, questions and concerns, Rep. Bill Jenkin and I will be offering an opportunity to engage with us in person about the below issues and many others during an in-district town hall on Saturday, March 23. Scroll below for the details!
Vaccinations, sub-minimum wage for individuals with disabilities, and remote testimony
During floor action, we had our share of impassioned speeches on the House floor. In my video update below, I cover a couple of the bills that sparked some earnest debate, as well as a resolution I recently cosponsored to encourage the state House to offer remote testimony by 2020. Watch here or by clicking below.
Low carbon fuel standard proposal advances to Senate
One of the more than 350 bills that have made their way out of the House and over to the Senate so far is a proposal to create a low carbon fuel standard. Intended to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels, this bill would significantly drive up the cost of gas and goods and would actually do very little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
I support the goal of reducing our carbon footprint, but ultimately voted 'no' on this bill. There are many reasons why a low-carbon-fuel-standard approach is flawed, but perhaps the biggest reason why I voted against this legislation is we're trying to address a global problem at a state level. I spoke to this on the House floor, and you can watch my remarks here. You can also watch my House Republican colleagues speak to why they opposed the bill in this mashup video here.
Other controversial bills pass the House
Three other bills that have generated a lot of conversation throughout this legislative session are advancing:
House Bill 1523 – called the “public option” health plan bill, this, in effect, is really more of a “reduced option” health plan bill. The bill will limit choice, shift costs, and fail to address systemic flaws and cost drivers. The bill passed on party lines in the House, with Republicans voting 'no,' and is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee on Wednesday, March 20.
House Bill 1575 – This bill is in direct response to the Janus decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled that requiring “agency fees” from public employee non-union members is a violation of an individual's First Amendment rights. The bill would allow public employees to join a union at any time, and they may do so verbally. However, the bill only would provide a 15-day exit period each year, during which an employee would only have the option to opt out by signature. It also passed on party lines with House Republicans opposed, and is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee on Thursday, March 21.
Senate Bill 5273 – This bill would move the state's presidential primary from May to March but requires voters to declare a party affiliation. While I agree with moving our presidential primary up, I don't agree with the methods in which this bill seeks to accomplish that objective. By forcing voters to declare allegiance to one party or the other, we're alienating and disenfranchising independents who simply want their voices to be heard without identifying as a Democrat or a Republican. House Republicans offered an amendment to the bill that would have allowed voters to remain unaffiliated, but it was soundly defeated by the majority party. This bill has already been signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee.
Bills that would have harmed businesses, self-employed die
Two bills that would have been detrimental to employers, small businesses, and the self-employed were successfully defeated this year.
Another bill that would have required employers to provide employees their work schedules at least two weeks in advance, or else pay a $100/day fine, also died. It would have also put limits on how often an employee can work. It posed unnecessary challenges to employers in the food service, hospitality, and retail industries, and would have ultimately hurt employees. Some testified before the Legislature that they want to continue having the option to work double shifts so they can keep their schedules flexible, but this bill would have prohibited that.
My first bill passes the House
I'm pleased to report my first bill has made its way out of the House and is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate later this week.
The bill would change the term “alternative” in alternative learning experience programs to “personalized.” The legislation is the result of a parent's concern that the term “alternative” has taken on a negative connotation for students participating in these programs.
Alternative learning experience programs allow students to fulfill public education requirements outside of the traditional classroom. My hope is the bill will help reduce the stigma associated with these programs, and will encourage more students to pursue nontraditional education courses when appropriate. Children and parents need choice when it comes to education during the formative years of a student's life, and these personalized learning experiences are a great option for students who may not excel in a traditional classroom setting or who want hands-on experience that will help them later on in their careers.
Join us March 23 for a town hall meeting in your area
Rep. Bill Jenkin and I would like to invite you to join us on Saturday, March 23 for a town hall meeting. During these two-hour meetings, we'll give you a brief update on the 2019 legislative session and open it up for your questions. Here are the times and locations:
10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Walter Clore Wine and Country Culinary Center
2140A Wine Country Road
Prosser, WA 99350
2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Performing Arts Auditorium
Walla Walla Community College
500 Tausick Way
Walla Walla, WA 99362
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Columbia County Youth Building
102 Fairgrounds Lane
Dayton, WA 99328
We look forward to seeing you there!
Of course, if you're not able to join us, you're always welcome to contact my office at (360) 786-7828 or Skyler.Rude@leg.wa.gov.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you!