Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Last week I learned that House Bill 2622 had been introduced by Rep. Norm Johnson, R-Yakima, to declare Yakima's Central Washington State Fair the “official state fair.” Of course, that's a problem for the real Washington State Fair in Puyallup! I quickly let Rep. Johnson know my feelings on his bill (see the photo below of Rep. Johnson and I, fists up, with Central Washington Fair President and General Manager Greg Stewart looking on). I also spoke with the chairman of the committee to which the bill was assigned and urged him not to hear it.
Nevertheless, the committee heard the bill on Wednesday. In advance of the hearing, I arranged to have Fisher Fair Scones delivered to the Capitol. Puyallup Sumner Chamber of Commerce Director Shelly Schlumpf, Chamber board member Charla Neuman, my legislative assistant Sarah Pollock, and I delivered the scones to committee members' offices Wednesday morning. Once word got around the Capitol that we had scones, it was clear demand exceeded supply.
Perhaps in view of the fact that there are more pressing matters before the Legislature, the bill appears to be dead. But we remain vigilant. We are prepared to stand valiantly in defense of the real Washington State Fair.
One of the genuinely contentious bills on the House floor this week was House Bill 1313, which would require employers with four or more employees to pay sick and safe leave for their workers. This places a huge administrative burden on employers. It could actually reduce the overall benefits to employees because employers would likely have to make cuts or reductions in other areas. This would add yet another competitive disadvantage to our state for businesses looking to locate in Washington. Employees are already protected by half-a-dozen federal and state laws mandating paid and unpaid leave provisions as well as job protection. And under current state law, employers can offer these benefits, which many already do if they can afford it. The bill passed by a vote of 52-45, with three Democrats voting “no” along with House Republicans.
This week the House Committee on Early Learning and Human Services held a hearing and passed my bill, House Bill 2337, which would create the Washington Social Investment Steering Committee. The steering committee would develop an implementation plan for a new public-private “pay for success” human services investment model targeting problems such as homelessness, child poverty, and recidivism. Investors could receive a return based on the success of the program in solving a problem and reducing costs to the state. “Pay for success” programs underway in other states are often called social impact bonds.
Our old bureaucratic models of solving problems have fallen short. Now we need to embrace creativity and innovation and engage the private sector in solving big public challenges. This pay-for-success model is being tried by local governments and states across the U.S. such as Minnesota, Massachusetts, Utah, New York and elsewhere. My bill has received attention from The Seattle Times and the free market think-tank Washington Policy Center.
Please send your feedback on the issues mentioned in this update or any other legislation before us. Feel free to call anytime if you have ideas or questions.
468 John L.O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7968 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000