Some bills still alive in the Washington Legislature, and how our Reps voted

March 13th was the last day to consider bills in the house of origin, and many, many bills died on that date, some good, some bad. Those that had been passed in one house of the Legislature now go on to the other house for consideration. They now have until April 17th to hold hearings and take action in committee and get them to the floor for a vote.

The big exception to these deadlines is any bill that impacts the budget. Any so-called “policy” bill can be resurrected later if it impacts the budget. And the budget is one giant policy bill made up of numbers. They have all been waiting for the economic forecast on state tax revenue, that came out March 20th, and now will be getting budget bills together. Here’s an overview.

But let’s not get distracted with the budget now — that’s a rabbit hole from which we may never escape. I’ll try to make some sense of it in a future post.

Meanwhile, below are some significant bills that have survived cut-off and will be moving through (or not) the other chamber. Continue reading

One teacher’s plea for adequate school funding

Note: Holly Koon attended the 42nd District Legislators’ Town Hall meeting on March 16, 2013, and presented these remarks to those in attendance.

by Holly Koon

Senator Erickson, Representatives Overstreet and Buys, thank you all very much for taking the time to come and meet with us today. I truly do appreciate it. My name is Holly Koon and I am a National Board Certified science teacher from Mt Baker High School in Deming.

Over the past 4 years, declining revenue and increased operating costs have impacted my school with the loss of our district curriculum director, loss of our assistant superintendent, loss of a principal, part of a math teacher, part of a science teacher, a reading support teacher, loss of money for new curriculum and materials that support changing standards and assessments, lost staffing to support our collaborative planning time, loss of all of our state funded professional development time, and the loss of our entire alternative program for very at risk students; putting those students back into the regular classrooms with 30+ other kids while simultaneously decimating the wrap-around support services we’ve provided in the past.  Continue reading

In a month of non-controversial bills, Mr. O votes No

This first month of the Legislative session includes floor votes on non-controversial or housekeeping bills. Many are passed unanimously. A quick look at these bills shows that among those that were not unanimous, Rep. Jason Overstreet was usually among the few dissenters.

Rep. Overstreet voted in the minority of the minority, against his own party’s majority, in voting NO on:

  • Requiring parental notification of run-aways in shelters
  • Allowing the redistribution of prescription medications by doctors, etc
  • Establishing a Native American Heritage Day
  • Requiring law enforcement to obtain a warrant to see traffic safety camera or toll system photos
  • Making a proclamation of a state of emergency directly effective upon the Governor’s signature
  • many more Votes against his party’s majority

He seems to have it in for the state’s college students. He was the sole dissenter on the bill, HB 1331, authorizing student advisory committees at institutions of higher education. This bill gives students a place at the table, with access to financial information, when administrators are making decisions that affect student access and success, such as tuition and fee levels.  WWU Associated Students lobbied for this bill, and they noticed Mr. Overstreet’s lack of support.

He was also the only vote against HB 1043, that repealed authority to set differential tuition rates at our public colleges, which were intended to provide more tuition dollars for higher-cost majors, such as engineering.

Natalie, with fellow lobbyists at the Planned Parenthood Lobby Day, on the steps of the State Capitol, February 18, 20

Natalie, with fellow lobbyists at the Planned Parenthood Lobby Day, on the steps of the State Capitol, February 18, 2013

While this may seem a fair idea, it became a problem when viewed against the state’s Guaranteed Education Tuition Program, that values all credit hours the same, and so the Legislature fixed it’s mistake. But not Mr. Overstreet.

The only controversial bill voted on so far in the House was HB 1044, the Reproductive Parity Act, which passed the House on a 53 – 43 vote. No one is surprised that Rep. Overstreet voted NO on this bill. It requires insurance plans in Washington to cover abortions if they cover maternity care. With the federal Affordable Care Act bringing changes to our state’s healthcare landscape, we must protect a women’s pregnancy choices. It will now be taken up by the Senate, where it should be a very close vote, but has a chance of passing.

Full list of Rep. Overstreet’s votes

Overstreet’s Legislative Agenda Goes Down in Flames

Legislators spend about a month holding hearings, reading, debating, amending and voting on bills in policy committees. Any bills not passed out of these policy committees by February 22, the cut-off deadline, are essentially dead. Bills can be revived on the floor of the chamber, but that would only happen in extraordinary circumstances.

Rep. Overstreet is not only in the minority party, but a minority of the minority. He is out of touch with how things work and the problems of ordinary people and their government, and his agenda is also out of touch. His failure to move legislation reflects this.

Rep. Overstreet’s prime sponsored bills that survived cut-off: ZERO

Prime Sponsored Bill that got a hearing. No action taken on either. Died in committee.

HB 1135 Concerning the annual gross sales limits for cottage food operations. Public hearing Agriculture & Natural Resources Cmte, no action.   Fiscal Note
Cottage food operations, mainly jam and jelly, are limited to home-based kitchens with less than 50(!) employees and under $15,000 gross income. This bill would eliminate the income limit as a reason to revoke a license.
HB 1162 Enacting the regulatory fairness act of 2013. Public hearing Government Operations & Elections, no action.
State agencies would not be allowed to adopt regulations that had economic impact unless said regulation is adopted by the Legislature. The way state law works is the Legislature enacts broad enabling legislation, with as many details as they feel are necessary, and then the state agencies develops rules and regulations to implement and enforce the law. This proposal would make the legislature responsible for adopting all these administrative rules. “Economic impact” means costing an individual $500 or more annual, or a business $1,000 or more annually.

Continue reading