Dear Friends and Neighbors,
When I speak to school groups I am often asked what a typical day looks like in Olympia. To give you an idea of my committee assignments and issues I'm working on, I thought I'd share my calendar from one day this week.
Wednesday morning started at 7 a.m. with a weekly “Wednesday Group” discussion and breakfast in the office of Secretary of State Kim Wyman. The Wednesday Group was started by former Secretary of State Sam Reed for legislators to talk about big ideas for the future of Washington. I have found these to be constructive and useful discussions, with topics ranging from education to business to the environment.
I headed upstairs for a “Four Corners” meeting with the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Higher Education Committee. I serve as the assistant ranking member on the House Higher Education Committee. We talked about bill progress in both chambers and explored our shared interest in better ways of funding our colleges and universities.
At 10 a.m. my party met briefly in our caucus room off the House floor to review strategy, then I had some free time to catch up on e-mails at my desk on the floor. I signed on to a colleague's letter to help small farms, submitted an article about reforming legislative elections, and finalized a press release about a student from Puyallup who recently served as a House page.
At 11 a.m. members of the House lined up in the back of the chamber to form a procession to the Senate Chamber. Every two years, the House and Senate form a joint session for a Memorial Service to remember former legislators who passed away. Current members lit candles and laid white roses in the front of the Senate chamber, prayers were offered by clergy from the Jewish, Christian, and Buddhist faiths, and the choir from North Thurston High School sang. The service was a reminder of the brevity of our service here, as well as the legacy of those who have gone before us in the legislature.
Following the service, I headed over to a lunch in a home near the Capitol hosted by advocates of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, which provides Capital Budget grants to local parks, farmland preservation, and other conservation and recreation opportunities. I am glad to be the ex-officio House Republican member of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition.
Back at my office in the John L. O'Brien Building at 1:00, I met with a constituent who came to Olympia to advocate for people with brain injuries and mental health issues. On the way down the stairs to my next committee meeting, an early learning expert briefed me about issues before the Early Learning and Human Services Committee.
My 1:30 p.m. Higher Education Committee meeting included a hearing on a bill that I sponsored for efficiencies in higher education institutions. House Bill 1736 sets up a review of reporting requirements that the state imposes on our colleges and universities, allows college and university employees to use electronic signatures, and allows reciprocity agreements for online distance learning programs. Several higher education stakeholders testified in strong favor of the bill (we voted it out of committee unanimously on Thursday).
Committee let out before 3:00 p.m., so I drove over to the Olympia Women's Club for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition board meeting. I could only stay for half an hour, because I needed to get back to the Capitol for Transportation Committee.
The Transportation Committee heard a bill to cap towing charges and received a report from the Washington State Transportation Commission and the Washington State Department of Transportation on possible road usage charge assessments such as a “vehicle miles traveled” system to finance our transportation system. A number of committee members asked questions about the privacy implications of such a system. It's worth noting that vehicle miles traveled is nowhere near implementable.
After committee, several colleagues and I walked next door to the Governor's Mansion for a reception. There I talked with a woman who is raising money for a playground, caught up with a colleague from a neighboring legislative district, and learned some history from former Governor Dan Evans.
I hope this review has given you an idea of the opportunities and excitement of the daily work in the legislature. I hope you'll find some time to come down to Olympia this session. My legislative assistant Sarah Pollock keeps my schedule on track and runs our legislative office, and you should feel free to contact us anytime.
468 John L.O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7968 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000