We are quickly approaching the half-way point of the 2014 legislative session. We have just a few days to pass House bills through their respective committees and then we'll spend much of our time on the House floor where all Representatives can debate and vote on the legislation that has passed through committee. The pace is hectic as legislators try to pack as much action as possible into the short, 60-day session.
I want to thank those of you who have contacted my office on various issues to express your thoughts and concerns. I appreciate the involvement shown by 15th District residents. Representing you in the state Legislature is an honor and it becomes much easier when the citizenry is active and involved!
Allowing rural counties to purchase water rights – “water banking”
This session, I am sponsoring House Bill 2596 which would authorize rural counties to use sales and use taxes to purchase water rights. As I said in my press release last week on this bill:
“The implications surrounding our water management are so important – so vital to our future – that we need to engage in a vigorous discussion about what is the best path forward in managing Washington's water,” said Chandler, R-Granger. “I know the county commissioners in Yakima and other rural counties are looking for a tool to use to help them manage this most precious resource. My bill begins the dialogue on whether or not water banking is the right strategy for the future of water management for Washington state. If it is, should it be privately funded or publicly funded?”
The bill received a public hearing yesterday (Feb. 4) in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. To read my press release on the bill, click here. To read an article about this effort in the Yakima Herald-Republic, click here. To read an article in the Tri-City Herald, click here.
Recently, President Obama and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have responded to reports that millions of Americans have been kicked off their coverage due to Obamacare. To mitigate the cancellations, both have announced policies that allow people to either keep their existing health care plans or be exempted from the individual mandate tax penalty and buy typically cheaper catastrophic care plans. Washington state's Democratic insurance commissioner has not been supportive of allowing individuals to keep their pre-Obamacare plans. To read an op-ed that was published in The Spokesman-Review on this issue by the ranking Republican on the House Health Care and Wellness Committee, Rep. Joe Schmick, click here.
Several of my House Republican colleagues introduced legislation on the first day of the legislative session designed to help people who have lost their insurance keep some form of affordable health care. I completely support them in this effort. For more information, click here.
I continue to believe you should be in charge of your health insurance and health care decisions. My focus remains on consumer-driven health insurance plans that provide access to affordable health care. Increasing the role of government in the patient/doctor relationship is not the direction I believe is best for patients or their doctors. For more information on our House Republican solutions for health care, click here.
Last week, two initiatives to the Legislature dealing with firearms received public hearings in the House Judiciary Committee. Since neither one is likely to pass the Legislature, they both are expected to be on the ballot this fall. YOU – the voters – will decide on these two issues:
As expected, the public hearing brought out the arguments and passions for both initiatives. While it was extremely crowded that day (The picture you see on the right is the line to testify – it stretched outside the building and down the sidewalk!), it was great to see so many people engaged in the legislative session. It's truly what our citizen Legislature is all about. You can watch the full public hearing here.
Also last week, I was very proud to sign on to House Resolution 4665 which recognized the many contributions made to our state and nation by Filipino-Americans over the last 400 years. They have a rich and honorable history in our state and in the Yakima area.
As an orchardist, I know what it's like to run a business. Taking care of employees, maintaining worker safety, dealing with regulations and – at the end of the day – writing the checks that help put food on the table for others, is all part of the job. However, I'm discouraged by what I see being pushed by some in Olympia this session in what I can only call, “The war on small businesses.” Minimum wage increases, mandatory paid sick leave, mandatory paid vacation leave, Obamacare, no workers' comp reform and increasing bureaucratic regulations and red tape. I often wonder if some folks in Olympia don't understand that small businesses are the backbone of our state and nation's economy. I will continue to fight against these types of barriers to job creation in our state while supporting efforts to free up the private sector and our entrepreneurs so that they can continue to lead our state out of the economic recession.
Join Rep. David Taylor and I for a telephone town hall in March!
My seatmate, Rep. David Taylor, and I will be hosting a telephone town hall for all 15th District residents on Tuesday, March 4 from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Just call toll-free 1-800-291-9241 and you can participate with your neighbors in this “Community Conversation.” These events have been very successful in the past and help us keep in touch with you. You can ask us questions, take our survey or just listen in from the comfort of your own home. I hope you're able to join us.