Dear neighbors,

This is the last week of the 2017 legislative session. At this point, much of our time on the Floor is spent voting on concurrences. Bills that are passed out of the House and are then amended and passed by the Senate require the House to give them thumbs up to send them to the governor so he can enact them into law. The same process is required for Senate bills that were amended in the House.

Most of the time the House concurs with the Senate’s changes and vice-versa. When one chamber does not agree with the changes made by the other chamber, there is no concurrence and the bill joins all the other bills that failed to become laws. Since this is the first year of the biennium, many of the bills that didn’t make it are re-introduced in the short session.

You may have heard in the news that budget negotiations are still not resolved, and since our state constitution requires us to pass a balanced budget, our work is not done until we reach an agreement. So while it is still possible to find a solution and pass a budget by April 23, we have to be prepared if no agreement is reached.  If we do not get this done by Sunday, the governor will call us back for a “special session” to finish our work and that could happen right away or after a few days.

My hope is that we figure out the budget before it comes to that, but if need be, I will be here.


Standing up for our service members and veterans

Recognizing the sacrifices made by veterans, service members, and their families when they are called to protect our state and our nation, we have prioritized legislation to help them out by passing these bills and sending them over to the governor for his signature:

service

HB 1055 provides free legal services to our service members, veterans, and their families. When deployed around the world or given change of station orders on the other side of the country, it’s hard for our service members to drop everything and return home to deal with a legal issue. By offering free legal services through the office of the Attorney General, we’re providing a little peace of mind.

HB 1802, the Wounded Warrior Shared Leave Act, helps service members transitioning to civilian life. This bill grants veterans, military service members, and their spouses employed by the state government access to a shared leave pool. For those in the traditional six-month probationary period, paid leave isn’t available, so if you’re a service member or veteran who needs to go to Veterans Affairs or the doctor, you have to take unpaid leave. Our service members and their families deserve better than that, so this gives them access to leave that didn’t exist before.


Protecting the most vulnerable among us

The Legislature recently passed two pieces of legislation that will create greater protections for vulnerable individuals in our communities. HB 1153 provides protection for those who cannot care for themselves due to age, disability, disease or developmental disorders, and HB 1163 cracks down on repeat domestic violence offenders.

vulnerable

Those who must rely on others to provide them with the basic necessities of life need to be able to trust their caregivers with their health, well-being and money. Unfortunately, people who cannot care for themselves are at high risk of being abused, both physically and financially. HB 1153 expands the scope of protection for vulnerable individuals, increases penalties for both physical and financial abuse, and reduces barriers to prosecution.

Repeat domestic violence offenders are some of the most dangerous people in our communities, often with long histories of many other violent crimes.  HB 1163 holds repeat domestic abusers accountable through harsher penalties and stricter supervision. In addition, the bill works toward improving treatment programs and risk assessments for repeat domestic violence offenders.

With these two new laws, victims will be better able to get the justice they deserve and those who perpetrate physical or financial abuse will be held accountable for their crimes.


Keeping Naselle Youth Camp open

The Naselle Youth Camp (NYC) provides kids who are at risk of falling into a life of crime a place to grow, learn, and become productive members of our society who develop a deep concern for the well-being of their communities. Many of them started out in life with difficult footing, dealing with learning disorders or emotional issues caused by unstable childhoods, poverty and drugs.

Naselle

The camp gives them the opportunity to develop the life and personal skills to get out of their ruts and move on. The NYC’s services and rehabilitation efforts have proved successful at decreasing recidivism rates in our state by giving troubled youth a real second chance at life.

I’ve witnessed how hard these kids work to really turn their lives around, so I won’t give up on them.

That’s why continued funding for the Naselle Youth Camp is a priority for me. I was pleased to see that early on in this session there was broad recognition from our community that the camp should stay open.

I am happy to report that the House budget secures funding to keep the camp running and changing lives.


Saying goodbye to our intern

This is the last week of the regular session and also the last week our intern Sarah will be with us.

Sarah

During the course of the session, Sarah has been busy behind the scenes helping with constituent correspondence and meetings. Outside of the legislature, Sarah attends The Evergreen State College and studies Agriculture and Policy. She will graduate with her B.A. this June.


As always, I appreciate your taking the time to read my updates. If you have any questions, need additional information, or have some feedback for me, please give me a call or send me an email.

Sincerely,

BlakeSig


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Washington State House Democrats

The information on these pages was created by House staff for legislative purposes and is a historical record of legislative events and activities. None of this material is intended to either directly or indirectly assist any campaign for office or ballot proposition. RCW 42.52.180 prohibits the use of public resources for campaign purposes.