Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have reached the halfway mark of the 2017 legislative session. We've spent this week voting on bills on the House floor. Here are some of the bills I supported during floor votes for Week 8.
Increasing efficiency in state facilities
My bill relating to the efficient use of state facilities received unanimous approval this week. House Bill 1828 would require the Office of Financial Management (OFM) to conduct space utilization studies to establish standards for use of state-acquired real estate, and evaluate opportunities for co-location and consolidation of properties.
This bill is about smaller, more efficient government. It's about holding state agencies honest and accountable for the use of space in their facilities. If there is under-utilized space, the state needs to combine multiple agencies rather than spending taxpayer dollars to obtain new real estate. This is an area where the state can find savings to keep taxes low and help fund education. The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
Continued efforts to support CTE education
House Bill 1600 would increase the career and college readiness of our public school students. This bill has a very small component addressing career and technical education (CTE). Only having a very small component is not acceptable. Not all students' learning styles are the same. House Republicans continue to work hard to bring CTE education provisions to current legislation. All students deserve a pathway that will make them the most successful in their futures.
We introduced amendments to fill in the holes of HB 1600 to assist our CTE teachers. We cannot provide our children with career and technical education skills and opportunities without the teachers to lead them. Unfortunately, we have a shortage of CTE teachers. One Republican amendment would have extended the loan forgiveness program for those teachers who teach in low socio-economic areas. We don't all come from the same background. There are many different ways to give back and to make a difference in people's lives. This would be an excellent opportunity to bring CTE teachers into our schools. The amendment failed on party-lines.
Another Republican amendment to address the CTE teacher shortage would have allowed up to a 10-year credit on the teacher's salary schedule for work already done in the real world. If a career electrician, for example, became an educator, rather than starting at the bottom of the salary schedule, they would receive credit for the years they worked in the field. This is a unique way to attract high quality educators. This is an excellent approach to getting qualified CTE teachers into our schools. These educators have a unique set of skills and life experiences to connect with students on a different level. The amendment failed on party-lines.
Travis Alert Act
I had the privilege to support the Travis Alert Act sponsored by Rep. Gina McCabe, R-Goldendale. It is important as a law enforcement officer to know when I am responding to a call, if the person needing my assistance and help has any special needs or requirements. We need to make sure everyone can be appropriately cared for in an emergency. The Travis Alert Act would allow people to submit information pertaining to an individual's disability to the Enhanced 911 program so dispatchers can deliver critical information to first responders during emergencies. It would also review existing procedures and ask the Department of Health to create a training program for first responders providing instruction for how to best respond to emergencies involving persons with special needs. The act is named after Travis King, a 12-year-old boy with autism from Wapato.
Statewide Committee on Commercially Sexually Exploited Children
I was the co-sponsor on House Bill 1832. The statewide committee on Commercially Sexually Exploited Children was established in 2013. This committee addresses the issues of children who are commercially sexually exploited. The group examines the practices of local and regional entities involved in addressing sexually exploited children, and to make recommendations on statewide laws and practices. HB 1832 extends the committees expiration date from June 30, 2017 to June 30, 2023. I look forward to working with this committee on this very important issue.
Mark your calendars!
I have four town hall events coming up. Join me!
Saturday, March 11: Please join me around district for town hall conversations! This is your opportunity to chat about the concerns and questions you have, directly with me. I look forward to this time with you.
- Edgewood – City Hall building, 2224 104th Ave. E, from 10-11:00 a.m.
- Bonney Lake – Justice and Municipal building, 9002 Main St. E, from 12-1:00 p.m.
- Enumclaw – Fire Department, 1330 Wells St., from 2-3:00 p.m.
Thursday, March 16: Join me from the comfort of your own home for a community conversation and evening telephone town hall. This is similar to a call-in radio program. I will take your questions and provide my perspective on your concerns and issues on the 2017 legislative session. When: Thurs. March 16. Time: 6-7:00 p.m. To participate: Simply call (253) 258-3247 beginning at 6:00 p.m. You can simply call and listen in, or, if you would like to ask a question, press the star (*) key on your telephone keypad and connect with me to ask your question. This is another great opportunity for direct connection with me.
Honor to sponsor student page, Colin Nelson
I had the honor of sponsoring page, Colin Nelson from University Place. As a page, Colin learned to navigate the many buildings around the Capitol, delivered messages and documents to legislators and staff, and assisted on the House floor. He attended page school each day to learn and understand the operations and actions of the Legislature. By week's end, he had the opportunity to present a bill to his fellow pages in a mock committee hearing. It was a pleasure to get to know him. He's a great kid and hopefully we will see him working in state government one day. For more information on the House page program, please click here.
It's an honor to serve you.