Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2010 Legislature began Monday, Jan. 10 and I was sworn in for my seventh term to represent you in Olympia.
This year I will serve on three committees:
- Agriculture and Natural Resources, of which I will serve as the ranking Republican. This committee considers issues relating to agricultural production, water, fisheries and wildlife, forest protection, state-owned lands, animal and plant disease control and mining.
- Ways and Means considers the state operating budget, fiscal issues such as pension policy, as well as state and local taxes.
- Judiciary considers a wide variety of subjects relating to civil and criminal law, including issues involving commercial law, guardianships, civil commitment, drunk driving, courts and judicial administration, landlord/tenant law, the Consumer Protection Act, and family law issues such as marriage, divorce, child support and adoption.
On Tuesday, the governor presented her annual State of the State address to the Legislature and statewide-elected officials. She said her goals in addressing the state budget are to:
- Put the state on a stable financial path;
- Recognize government cannot do it all; and
- Provide a government that is leaner, more efficient, effective, and addresses needs for the 21st century.
These are laudable goals and ones that I agree with. How we get there is another thing. The governor has proposed major government reforms in recent weeks:
- Consolidating several natural resource agencies;
- Consolidating all education agencies, from early learning to higher education, into a Department of Education; and
- Shifting the Washington ferry system from the state to a local taxing district.
My concern is that these are not true reforms, but merely shifting responsibilities. If we're going to reshape government, it needs to be a change in how business is done. For example, before grouping all natural resource services into a mega agency, we need to define which agencies should support certain programs. Should Ecology or Department of Agriculture be assisting in rules compliance on a dairy farm? True government reform results in better service to employers, farmers and taxpayers; as well as reduced cost to the state budget.
In my next e-mail, I will give you a preview of the legislation I am working on this year. As always, please feel free to contact my office with questions, comments or suggestions.
It's an honor to serve you in the state Legislature.