On Monday, January 14, the 2013 legislative session kicked off in Olympia with opening day ceremonies and the swearing-in of all members of the House of Representatives.
It was honor to stand with my colleagues and take the oath of office together as a group. While we all represent different parts of the state, we are united in our commitment to ensuring Washington emerges from the Great Recession leading the way in job creation, educational opportunity for all, and quality of life.
It was an incredible honor to be elected by my peers as Deputy Speaker Pro Tempore on Monday. The Deputy Speaker Pro Tempore presides over sessions of the House as needed when the Speaker Pro Tempore and the Speaker of the House are unable to do so. I will work hard to ensure the process is fair and all voices are heard.
Click on the video below to watch as I am sworn in as Deputy Speaker Pro Tempore
On Wednesday, January 16, I watched our statewide elected officials get sworn in before a joint session of the House and Senate, and listened to Governor Jay Inslee give his inaugural speech.
The governor stressed that our world is changing at a rapid pace, and a new economy is emerging from the recession. He says “Washington… has the potential to lead the next wave of world-changing innovations,” but also that the world will not wait for us to do so. We must step up and lead.
While the overall economic picture in our state is improving, the legislature will still have to resolve a projected shortfall in the state budget about $1.4 billion. We ended last year’s session with a balanced budget, but since then the revenue we’ve taken in has not equaled the cost of operating our schools and colleges, prisons, and safety net programs.
Additionally, a year ago the state Supreme Court ruled the legislature is not fulfilling its constitutional duty to fully fund basic education (known as the McCleary decision). While the House has led the way in recent years on educational reforms that put us on the path to fully funding education, this year we’ll need to devote an estimated $1.4 billion in funding for our public schools to keep us on the right track and comply with the Court’s order.
That’s a hole of at least $2.8 billion in the next two-year budget – on top of the $12 billion we’ve already reduced state services the last few years.
I’d like to hear your thoughts about the state budget and education funding. If you have ideas, please take a moment to send me an email. Your feedback is crucial as I establish my priorities this session and work with my colleagues to solve these important issues.
Flu season is upon us
Winter is peak flu season in our state, and this year’s strain of the flu appears to be nastier than last year’s. One of the best ways to protect yourself, your family, and your coworkers is to get a flu shot, and it’s not too late to do it if you haven’t already. The state Department of Health has online information about where to get a flu shot, and other flu-related information.
Traveling to another part of the country? Check out flu activity for all 50 states to know what the situation is like where you’re going.
Follow all the action
You don’t have to come to the capital to be up on what’s happening this session. I’ll do my best to keep you informed with these newsletters, but you can also sign up for email notifications about House and Senate committees, schedules, and other information. And here’s a list of all House committees.
Most public hearings and floor action in the House and Senate can also be viewed online through TVW’s website (click on “Schedule” or “Archives” at the top of the page for current or past audio and video clips).
Confused about how to read a bill online? Here’s a great tutorial.
Want to come to Olympia anyway and testify for or against a bill, or visit me in my office? Here’s everything you need to know about visiting the Legislature, and be sure to contact my legislative assistant, Mary Soderlind, if you want to schedule a meeting with me.