Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are one week away from the halfway mark of the scheduled 105-day legislative session in Olympia and soon I'll be voting on some issues very important to the 16th District.
I wanted to take a moment to provide this update and to encourage your input and involvement. Please contact my office with your questions, comments and suggestions. My legislative aide, Meagan Allen, will be happy to take your call. The phone number is (360) 786-7828. You can also call toll free and leave a message for me on the Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000. Or you can e-mail me at email@example.com. Please do not hit “reply” to this e-mail newsletter as it will not reach my office.
The committee process has continued since the beginning of session. However, the Legislature has several major deadlines, also known as “cutoffs.” We reached the first one on Friday, Feb. 22. That was the last day House policy committees could consider and vote on policy bills originating in the House.
The Senate has the same cutoffs for Senate bills. Any policy bills that had not been voted out of their respective committees by 5 p.m. on Friday are considered “dead” for the session. This helps to thin down the enormous amount of bills that have been introduced this session and provides a focus on those that have survived the committee process.
We also have a second cutoff rapidly approaching this Friday, March 1, for fiscal bills (legislation involving money). Those bills need to be voted out of their respective fiscal committees by Friday, or they may also be dead for the session. There are exceptions to this process. Bills necessary to implement the budget are exempt from the cutoffs.
Our focus now shifts from the committees to the House floor where we will be considering many of those bills that survived the cutoff.
PRIME-SPONSORED BILL STATUS
- House Bill 1146 – would require certified water right examiners to furnish evidence of insurance or financial responsibility and replace the bonding requirement of $50,000, which has proven to be too expensive for those considering entering this profession. This measure passed the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Feb. 7. It is now awaiting a vote on the House floor.
- House Bill 1175 – would increase the number of superior court judges from six to seven who jointly serve Benton and Franklin counties. The measure passed both the House Judiciary Committee and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government. The bill is now in the House Rules Committee awaiting further action.
>>>Listen to my Capitol Report radio program on this issue>>>
- House Bill 1426 – would allow qualifying electric utilities that serve retail customers in Washington and other states to use renewable resources located within 14 western states to meet their renewable resource targets (helping to provide affordable electricity). This measure had a public hearing on Feb. 5 in the House Environment Committee, but it was not advanced from the committee before the cutoff.
>>>Read my opinion editorial on energy>>>
- House Bill 1782 – would create a new Walla Walla Veterans' Home as a branch of the Washington Soldiers' Home. This measure passed the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee on Feb. 20 and was referred to the House Appropriations Committee for further consideration.
>>>Read my press release here>>>
- House Bill 1808 – would require law enforcement to be notified in the event a manager or employee of a retail store with a pharmacy license finds one ounce or less of marijuana inadvertently left within the premises of the business. This would prevent pharmacies from having licensing problems from small quantities of marijuana left in the store, since it is still considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance under federal law. This measure passed the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee on Feb. 14 and is now in the House Rules Committee awaiting further action.
>>>Read my opinion editorial on marijuana here>>>
NEALEY APPOINTED TO STATE ECONOMIC AND REVENUE FORECAST COUNCIL
I was honored to be appointed as the House Republican member to the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. The council was created by the Legislature in 1984 to oversee the preparation of, and approve, the official optimistic and pessimistic state economic and revenue forecasts. It consists of two members appointed by the governor and four members from the Legislature. The council produces 17 publications a year, which includes a monthly update on the economy and revenue collections, a quarterly forecast publication and an annual study of Washington's economic climate. The reports are used as a baseline by the Legislature to determine revenue when crafting the state's biennial operating budget.
You'll likely be hearing a lot about the council around March 20 when it comes out with the quarterly revenue forecast. That will be the report the Legislature uses to write the 2013-15 state operating budget.