Town hall update, I-1053 ruling & sequestration

27th Legislative District Delegation Town Hall

Please make sure to save the date for a joint town hall hosted by Senator Jeannie Darneille, Representative Laurie Jinkins, and myself. We’ll be discussing issues that are important to the 27th Legislative District, getting your input on legislation, and providing insight into the 2013 session from each of our unique perspectives.

Here are the details.
Location: Jason Lee Middle School Cafeteria, 602 S Sprague Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98403
Date: Saturday, March 16, 2013
Time: 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. with information booths and sign-in starting at 9:30 a.m.

For more information, click here.

My First Floor Speech


Last Wednesday, I had the honor of giving my first speech on the floor of the House of Representatives. I was called upon to present HB 1256, related to freight mobility, to the House for their consideration.

I’m pleased that the bill passed with strong bipartisan support, indicating the importance of freight mobility to our state.

You can view video of the speech here.

State Supreme Court Issues I-1053 Ruling

On February 28, the state Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision on the constitutionality of I-1053, the initiative requiring a two-thirds vote of the legislature to either raise taxes or close tax loopholes.

The court ruled that this “supermajority requirement” is unconstitutional.
The court case began a couple of years ago, borne out of the inability of a simple majority of House legislators to close an outdated tax loophole in our state that only benefited large out-of-state banks.

They wanted to close this loophole in order to fund classroom size reductions in our public schools instead. But because of the supermajority requirement, a minority of legislators was able defeat the bill in the House, and Wall Street banks triumphed over Washington’s schoolchildren.

The Supreme Court made it clear this week that this is not the way our government is supposed to function. Our state constitution says that a simple majority is required to pass any legislation, and an initiative cannot override the constitution. This ruling clarifies our responsibilities as legislators and protects the people from what the court deemed “the tyranny of the minority.”

Sequestration Hits Home

Senator Patty Murray recently paid a visit to the House Democratic caucus here in Olympia, and she didn’t try to sugarcoat the news about the federal sequester and its impact.

Sequestration refers to the automatic cuts to the federal budget that were triggered when Congress did not reach a budget by March 1. During her visit — prior to the deadline — Senator Murray expressed her frustration at the lack of progress towards a deal, and was not hopeful that one would be reached before the deadline.

Unfortunately, her fears were correct and the deadline passed. Our state now faces cuts that threaten jobs and family security and hurt some of our most vulnerable citizens. For example:

  • 160 teacher and aide jobs are at risk as we lose $11.6 million in funding for primary and secondary education.
  • 440 low income students in our state won’t receive aid to help them finance the costs of college.
  • Approximately 29,000 civilian Department of Defense employees throughout our state face furloughs, resulting in millions of dollars in reduced pay for working families.
  • Approximately 1,000 low income children will lose access to critical early childhood education.

Our state and our country deserve better than this. Congress must act quickly to undo these damaging cuts before they cause lasting economic damage.

Have you heard our new podcast?

There’s a new podcast in the House Democrats audio lineup, and it’s called the House Majority Report. It’s a weekly, three-to-five minute conversation with a member of the House Democrats’ leadership team about current legislative issues. New podcasts are released every Friday on our website, or you can subscribe to it on iTunes (just search for Washington State House Majority Report).