Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Today the House of Representatives adopted the permanent House Rules for how the body will operate throughout this biennium. It is standard protocol and is usually done quickly and quietly. However, this year, House Republicans offered four amendments to those rules. The amendments would benefit taxpayers, honor the state constitution and give citizens more of a voice during the public hearing process.
First, we offered to place the super majority vote provisions of Initiative-1185 into the House rules for the next two years. We wanted to do this because there is a chance that I-1185, approved by 64 percent of the state's voters, will get thrown out by the state Supreme Court despite voters having enacted or reaffirmed the two-thirds vote requirement for tax increases five times since 1993. I-1185 passed in every county in the state, and in 44 of 49 legislative districts. It passed in the 25th Legislative District with 71 percent of the vote. This would have been a perfect example of how the Legislature could have honored the voice of the people.
Second, we offered an amendment to put into rule our Fund Education First proposal. We need to fully fund education, and we should fund education before all other budget items in our budgeting process. The Legislature must respect the state constitution and treat education as “the paramount duty.”
Third, an amendment was proposed to ensure that each legislator gets a public hearing on at least one of their bills. Each legislator represents a district of approximately 137,000 people. This would show bipartisanship and a willingness to represent and listen to concerns from all districts across the state.
Finally, an amendment was offered to prioritize citizen testimony in committees. People who take the time to travel to Olympia to share their views should be given priority over Olympia insiders and lobbyists. Our state constitution begins with the words, “All political power is inherent in the people.” We need to make our process accessible to the people.
The only amendment accepted was the one to prioritize citizen testimony in committee. I am disappointed that the others were not adopted, but I look forward to continuing work to protect taxpayers, fund education first and provide a voice to the citizens of Washington state.
468 John L.O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7968 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000