Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on March 10. I am excited about the possibility the 60-day session could end on time. It has been a fast-paced session, filled with plenty of debate and discussion. I am thankful that both sides have been able to work together reasonably well again this year. The two-year budgets approved last session – and the adjustments likely to be made this session – should continue to benefit the State of Washington. If the state continues to budget responsibly, demonstrates a prudent use of your tax dollars, and makes wise investments in our key services, the near and long-term outlook for us could be very positive.
Update on Supplemental Budgets
As I mentioned in previous updates, the Legislature is focusing on updates to its existing two-year budgets. The three state budgets are the operating, transportation, and capital budgets. Click the following link to read a summary of the three budgets and click this link to learn more about the state budgeting process. In order for each budget to be submitted to the Governor for his signature, it must pass both the House and the Senate in an identical form. Both the House and Senate have approved their own budget proposals. In these final days, the negotiators for each of the budgets, in consultation with legislators from both chambers, try to find a compromise on the final details. The proposed House-Senate compromise budgets then come before their respective chambers for amendments, debate, consideration, and approval. We should know more over the next few days, if lawmakers will agree to make minor modifications rather than seeking and holding out for more significant changes. In my opinion, supplemental budgets are intended for minor updates not anticipated since the original two-year budget was approved. Some political leverage is already beginning to be used to urge passage of a supplemental budget. Click here to read what the governor has said recently about the budget process. My hope and expectation is that our work will end on time. Here is a link to access more details about the budget proposals.
My Prime-Sponsored Bills
Two of my three prime-sponsored bills were approved by the Legislature this session.
House Bill 1003 was inspired and requested by the Pateros School District following the 2014 Carlton Complex Fire that caused over $2 million in damage to its only school building. The measure would pull state resources together to develop a model policy to guide school districts following natural disasters, such as wildfires, mudslides, earthquakes, and flooding. The bill was recently approved unanimously by the Senate but it was amended slightly and is awaiting a final vote in the House of Representatives. Click here to read more about House Bill 1003.
House Bill 1752 was requested by Chelan County to modernize a 1950s law related to the county staff-level position of chief examiner. A chief examiner maintains records and testing procedures for civil service positions in counties. A chief examiner is a staff-level, non-elected position usually within a county’s human resources division. Under current law, a county’s chief examiner must reside within the county. My bill relieves counties of this strict residency requirement by allowing employees who serve in this role to live within the county or an adjacent county. The bill is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Click here to learn more about House Bill 1752.
House Bill 2348 to provide local governments with more flexibility related to fireworks ordinances was approved by its committee, but it did not advance further. It had 40 bipartisan co-sponsors and garnered the support of cities, counties, firefighters, and other statewide associations but, ultimately, the bill did not advance through the House due to concerns expressed by both the fireworks industry and tribes. One of my colleagues a couple years ago said, “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.” In short, I gained a lot of experience in trying to advance this bill this year. My hope is to leverage this experience in future years in representing our district. Click here to read more about House Bill 2348.
A Blast from the Past!
Twenty years ago, the Legislature convened during the winter for a 60-day session. The year was 1996 and the Republicans served in the majority. East Wenatchee’s Clyde Ballard was the Speaker of the House and Wenatchee’s Dale Foreman was the Majority Leader. It was a unique and memorable time for our 12th District as this pairing of high-level leadership positions from the same legislative district may likely never happen again. I admired both of these legislators greatly.
As a young 20-year old, I deferred my winter quarter of undergraduate school to serve on legislative staff for the House Appropriations Committee. I really enjoyed my time here in Olympia and learned a great deal during the 1996 session. Some of my staff colleagues were certainly amazed that the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader knew me personally and called me by name whenever we crossed paths in the capitol. The 1996 legislative session was my first of two sessions working at the capitol during college.
My photograph with the legendary Speaker of the House Clyde Ballard.
Legislative Page Program
As you can tell, past legislators from our area treated me very kindly when I worked here, and I enjoy the opportunity to do the same for the next generation. I know from personal experience how memorable and beneficial it can be to work at the capitol and learn about our state government process. The Legislative Page Program provides youth between the ages of 14 and 16 to spend one week at the capitol, delivering legislative correspondence, assisting members in House chambers, and attending Page School.
Legislative Page Pilar Cuevas in the House chambers
This session, Pilar Cuevas, a sophomore at Wenatchee High School, and Bradley Moberg, a ninth grader at Eastmont Junior High, served as legislative pages. Having students come to the capitol to participate in the legislative process by serving as pages is a long-standing tradition in our state.
Both Pilar and Bradley enjoyed the time they spent here. Bradley is on the varsity swim team and plays the piano. Pilar is a leader in Wenatchee AVID, a program aimed at closing the achievement gap by helping students prepare for college and future success.
Legislative Page Bradley Moberg at my House desk.
Recent Radio Interviews
Click the links below to listen to recent radio interviews.
Thank you again for the opportunity to serve as your state representative.
Stay tuned this week for additional details as we work to approve final budgets and adjourn the session!
State Representative Brad Hawkins
12th Legislative District