Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Occasionally someone will ask me what a typical day is like during the legislative session. There's really no “typical” day in Olympia, but to give you some idea of how I spend my time and what I'm working on these days, I thought I'd share my calendar from Tuesday of this week. I had a similar “day in a life” email update a few years ago: Rep. Zeiger's email update Feb. 15, 2013.
Tuesday morning started at 7:45 a.m. in the Capitol rotunda with a KING 5 news interview with reporter Michael Konapasek regarding my House Bill 2897, which would make it easier for landlords and law enforcement to deal with squatters. I told Michael that we got the idea for the bill from residents of unincorporated Pierce County who have had problems with squatters in recent weeks. After neighbors began to circulate a petition and spread the word on social media, it didn't take long for us to get the bill ready. In fact, Sen. Tim Sheldon from Mason County was already working on this issue in the Senate, so I was able to introduce a “companion” bill in the House. Property owners shouldn't have to go through legal hoops to have a squatter removed. I am hopeful the Legislature will address this issue in the coming days.
The House Higher Education Committee convened at 8 a.m. in House Hearing Room C in the John L. O'Brien Building. I serve as the ranking Republican on this committee. Following bill hearings about services for students with disabilities and bachelor degrees in community colleges, I was able to present my House Bill 2755 for public hearing—this bill is the product of extensive collaboration among the state's colleges and universities to identify cost savings and administrative efficiencies. The bill would remove some duplicative reporting requirements, ease construction project planning, and simplify training for use of purchasing cards.
Following this committee meeting, Rep. Melanie Stambaugh and I spent time with constituents and other stakeholders who had come to visit. We met with a woman who was at the Capitol to advocate for people with multiple sclerosis, then we met with nurses from Western State Hospital, then with students from Eastern Washington University. I met separately in my office in the O'Brien Building with a group of constituents who had come to lobby for housing programs and funding to address homelessness.
At 11 a.m. Rep. Stambaugh and I greeted Puyallup Herald reporter Heather DeRosa, who had come to spend some time covering our work. We gave her a tour around the Capitol, including the House floor.
Around noon, I headed over to the Senate side of the Capitol for a press briefing with House and Senate Republican leadership in the Senate Majority Leader's office. Higher education was one of the topics that came up, and Senate Higher Education Chair Barbara Bailey and I were on hand to address that topic. I discussed ways to maximize use of existing dollars in the State Need Grant financial aid program for college students.
Meanwhile, a lunch with legislators, east Pierce County civic leaders and members of the Puyallup-Sumner Chamber of Commerce was underway in the basement of the O'Brien Building. I hurried over to join in the conversation and grab a bite to eat. Lunch topics included our proposal for $500,000 to finish a key connection on the Foothills Trail next to the former Van Lierop farm, our hope to secure funding to prepare for expansion of the East Main-State Route 410 overpass, efforts to enhance citizen stewardship of local waterways, legislative proposals to address homelessness, and my shared desire with Rep. Drew Stokesbary from the neighboring 31st District to get out of session on time in March—both of our wives are pregnant and expecting right after the scheduled adjournment on March 10!
At 1 p.m. I met with Rep. Lynda Wilson from Vancouver and Rep. Teri Hickel from Federal Way in Rep. Wilson's office. Rep. Wilson is our ranking member on the House Committee on Community Development, Housing, and Tribal Affairs, and I am the assistant ranking member. We reviewed bills up for vote in committee that afternoon before heading downstairs to the hearing room for our 1:30 p.m. committee meeting.
We started the meeting with a bill hearing, followed by votes on bills dealing with affordable housing tax incentives, tribal cultural resources, and adapted housing for disabled veterans.
After committee, I headed back up to my office to catch up on emails. Rep. Drew Hansen from Bainbridge Island, chair of the Higher Education Committee, stopped by to discuss amendments to a bill up for a vote on Wednesday. Then I had meetings with firefighters from district, policy specialists from the Washington Student Achievement Council, and advocates for rail improvements.
I needed a break before a telephone town hall, so I headed to downtown Olympia to get a cup of coffee and catch up on some reading.
Then at quarter to six, Rep. Stambaugh and I went to a broadcast studio on the fourth floor of the O'Brien Building to get ready for our telephone town hall with constituents. I have done these telephone town halls since I got started in the Legislature in 2011, and they're a great way to get input from constituents and answer questions. Topics of conversation on Tuesday evening included charter schools, school funding, my squatters bill, gun control, consumer protections for financial privacy, wholesale taxes on inventory, affordable housing, mental health, and the state tax exemption for the aerospace industry.
We took three polls during the call. The first asked about participants' top issues they'd like the legislature to address this year. The top issue was education, followed by transportation and health care. In the second question, we asked if the Legislature should pass a bill to ensure charter schools can continue to operate. Those participating in the poll said “yes” by a 58 to 23 percent margin, with 19 percent being undecided.
Following the telephone town hall, I headed across Olympia to a reception put on by the firefighters who were in town. Receptions are an opportunity for legislators to continue conversations started during the day and to get to know constituents better.
I hope you'll consider coming down to Olympia in the coming weeks – it would be great to spend some time getting your perspective on the issues that matter to you. Or give us a call anytime. You can reach us in Olympia at 360-786-7968—you'll talk first to my Legislative Assistant Sarah Pollock. And my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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