Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are now more than half way through the 105-day regular session. On Wednesday, the state's revenue forecast revealed a small drop ($19 million) in expected tax collections from the last forecast, primarily due to federal budget reductions and the reinstatement of the federal payroll tax. However, the state will still bring in $2 billion more for the 2013-15 budget than the 2011-13 budget. Next week we will begin seeing budget proposals aimed at balancing the budget. With a bipartisan majority coalition in the Senate, and a Democrat majority in the House, I think we will see very different approaches to addressing the budget.
Supreme Court overturns two-thirds requirement to increase taxes
You may have heard that the Washington State Supreme Court overturned the voter-approved requirement for taxes to be passed with a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. While I'm disappointed with this ruling, it still does not change the will of the people. It is clear to me people cannot afford to pay more in taxes, especially when they do not see the value of what they are paying. The court stated that the requirement must be placed in the constitution in order to prevent a conflict within the constitution. I am co-sponsoring House Joint Resolution 4206 to make the two-thirds requirement an amendment to our state constitution. If passed, this resolution would send this question to voters for the last time.
Expanding eligibility for the State Need Grant to undocumented students
This year, I co-sponsored House Bill 1817 to expand eligibility for the State Need Grant to all students, regardless of their documentation. It would include requirements that grant applicants:
- earn a high school diploma or equivalent certificate;
- lived in the state for at least three years prior to receiving their high school diploma;
- have no criminal record; and,
- apply for citizenship as soon as they can (most cannot apply until they are 18) or have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival status.
While the federal government has failed to adequately address immigration, and continues to debate the best strategy, our community grapples with the real-life consequences of federal inaction. We all know children who have found themselves in our country because their parents came here. They did not choose where they moved, but they have become part of our community. They attend school with our children; are part of little league teams; and go to the movies, mall and prom with our kids. Many have English as their first language and for all intents and purposes consider themselves Americans. The question is, how will we determine their fate? Will we show them that hard work pays off with opportunities for college and beyond? Or will we close them off to becoming more because of a decision made by their parents?
I encourage you to read this editorial in the Yakima Herald-Republic that better explains my position. While we may not always agree on every issue, it is important we have a respectful discussion about how our state handles the consequences of inaction by the federal government.
March 13 was the deadline for House bills to be passed out of the House, and for Senate bills to be passed out of the Senate. Bills which do not pass before this are considered “dead” for the year. Here's an update on the bills I've sponsored:
- House Bill 1889 would help Yakima County better address the apple maggot and ensure we have a quality apple product to trade with our partners across the world. It passed the House unanimously and had a hearing in the Senate March 19.
- House Bill 1072 would provide additional training to turn agriculture jobs into fulfilling careers. Though it did not move forward after passing the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee, it could still be included in a budget proposal, which is not beholden to bill deadlines.
- House Bill 1414 to create an integrated water management plan for the Yakima Basin is still in the Capital Budget Committee and could be included in the final capital budget appropriations.
You can also read this list of bills and their status as of March 13. Note that I may not agree with every categorization of a bill as “good” or “bad.”
The 105-day session is scheduled to adjourn April 28, so I encourage you to stay involved with what's happening in Olympia. Here are some important methods I use to communicate with the people back home, and ways people back home can stay informed:
- Capitol Buzz – A daily electronic media clip service of House Republicans. Click here to subscribe.
- The Current – An online publication from House Republicans to include you in the legislative process. Click here to subscribe.
- Check out my Web site, houserepublicans.wa.gov/chandler – From this link, you can get more information about me, the bills I've sponsored, look at our district map boundaries, read my news releases and more.
- Photos – Access my photo gallery here.
- This e-mail update – Please share this with everyone you know and encourage them to sign up directly from my Web site.
- Video updates – Every other week, I record a video update to discuss the session. This is posted on my Web site and on YouTube. You can subscribe to my playlist or check my Web site periodically. Click on the picture below to watch my most recent video:
- TVW – The state's own version of C-Span, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live. You can also watch on your computer, smartphone or tablet: www.tvw.org.
- Legislature's Web site – You can get bill reports, committee agendas and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature at: www.leg.wa.gov. You can also provide comments on a bill directly from the Web site.
As always, I am here to serve you, so please feel free to contact my office with questions, comments or concerns. My contact information is below.