Welcome to the 2018 legislative session
Hello from Olympia and the 2018 Legislature! Today is the first day of a 60-day session scheduled to end March 8, 2018. As you may know, our state works on a two-year legislative cycle. Even-year “short” sessions help solve issues that might have come up between long and short sessions. For example, the two-year biennial budget written in odd-numbered years is reviewed to see where supplemental changes are needed such as unanticipated natural disaster expenses, increased health care caseloads, revenue receipt changes, and the like.
Senate Democrats recently regained a slim one-vote majority through a special election, while the House still holds an equally tight Democratic majority. There will be a number of issues – such as fair and transparent voting laws, and pay equity for women, for example – we hope to pass now that the Senate Republicans can no longer stop them.
However, we have seen all too clearly in Congress what happens when one party tries to ram through policies without minority party input: Gridlock. Democrats know we have to work across the aisle to find bipartisan solutions for the people of Washington, including the “Hirst” water rights issue, a long-overdue capital construction budget, and possible tweaks to the state’s education funding plan passed last year.
Updates from the interim
Fourth Olympic Class ferry christened
The 144-car ferry “Suquamish” was christened last Thursday, bolstering our crucial marine highway system. The boat will now go through sea trials before becoming part of the WSF fleet. This is the fourth “Olympic Class” ferry, which will address safety and efficiency issues. I’ve spent many years pushing for ferry funding in the state transportation budget, and actually sponsored the bill that resulted in the third and fourth Olympic boats becoming a reality.
Victoria sewer plant under construction
After decades of debate and delay, the McLoughlin Point Wastewater Treatment Plant near Victoria, B.C. is under construction, with tertiary sewage treatment estimated to come online by 2020.
Why have I spent so many years advocating for a Canadian project? Roughly 30 million gallons of the greater Victoria area’s raw sewage is dumped into the Strait of Juan de Fuca every day – water the state (and especially the 40th Legislative District) share with Vancouver Island. Of course, as a state legislator I have limited power to influence another country’s government. However, my suggested ban on state employee travel to Vancouver unless a solution was found hopefully had some impact.
Bottom-line: We’re making a difference in keeping our coastline free from such pollution.
My ideas for the 2018 session
As chair of the House Technology and Economic Development Committee, I’ve been focused on a number of issues that impact our everyday lives. For example, last session I proposed (and the Legislature passed) a bill to protect against companies using and selling your biometric data they capture as you used the Internet.
This session I’m introducing bills that:
Keep your personal information at state agencies safer. Many state agencies collect information about us, from the Department of Licensing to the Department of Revenue. My bill will require all state agencies to beef up how they protect your personal information
Require electronic product manufacturers to allow fair servicing and repair of their products. We’ve seen this happen too often over the years, most recently with Apple slowing down service to their older cell phones to “preserve battery life.” Your current option? Buy a new phone or pay $80 for a new battery. That’s not right. My bill will open up a competitive repair market to give owners more control over their digital electronic devices.
I have a number of other bills waiting for legislative action, and I’m also working on issues such as protecting Blanchard Mountain, enhancing solar installation incentives, and “Net Neutrality,” to name a few. I’ll report on these in the weeks ahead.
There’s a lot of work to do in this short session, and I’ll be checking in with you periodically to share what I’m up to and ask for your insights, ideas and concerns.
As always, I’m honored to represent you and the 40th Legislative District in Olympia.