Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We spent long hours on the House floor last week debating and voting on bills. We are in the final days of passing House bills over to the Senate that have made it through the House committee process.
One good piece of legislation we passed last week that will help keep tuition affordable for college students and their families is House Bill 1696. The bill would give tuition-setting authority back to the Legislature to ensure public accountability for tuition decisions. It passed the House unanimously.
A measure to increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour over the next four years passed the House on a party line vote, 51-46. The House also passed a measure to require employers with more than four full-time employees to provide paid leave to employees.
I worry that a minimum wage increase would negatively impact youth employment opportunities, and it would increase the overall cost of living throughout our state. Washington already has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the country. If young Washingtonians are struggling to find work with the minimum wage at $9.47 an hour, it will be even more difficult for them at $12 an hour. The one-size-fits-all nature of these bills is also concerning. Our small employers will have a much more difficult time complying than corporations or companies. Small employers should be able institute pay and leave that fits their business model best.
We reached the halfway point of the legislative session this week, so we will start hearing more about the budget soon. It is the House Democrats' turn to produce the first operating budget proposal this year. They have indicated plans to release their 2015-17 spending plan by March 23. With the revenue forecast being moved up to February, both the House and Senate have the information they need to move forward with proposals. We look forward to seeing the House Democrats proposed spending plan.
Finally, I wanted to share a couple photos from the groundbreaking ceremony for the I-5 Portland Avenue to Port of Tacoma Road – Northbound HOV project. This project will relieve congestion on I-5 through Fife and Tacoma. At the same time, there is a lot of work to do on other transportation needs in our area. The Legislature should act to fund the completion of Highway 167 and the expansion of I-5 through Joint Base Lewis-McChord, while making major reforms to the Department of Transportation to improve stewardship of gas-tax dollars. As we deliberate on transportation funding and reforms, I am opposed to costly low-carbon fuel standard and “cap and trade” proposals.
I welcome your ideas and feedback as the session progresses. To that end, Rep. Melanie Stambaugh and I are hosting a series of coffee hours to talk with constituents:
I hope you'll consider joining us during one of these times events:
League of Women Voters Meeting
25th District legislators
324 S Meridian, Puyallup
10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
9909 168th St. E Suite 101, South Hill
1 p.m. – 2 p.m.
5107 112th St. E., Tacoma
10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
1522 54th Ave. E., Fife
10:00 a.m. -11:30 a.m.
Keep in touch.
468 John L.O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7968 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000