With no budget, special session looms

The deadline for the Washington State Legislature to end its business and go home was Sunday, however since no budget agreement could be reached in time, taxpayers will now be forced to foot the bill for yet another special session (which seems to be developing into an annual occurrence in Olympia). Our Majority Coalition Caucus has remained committed to its three founding principles: creating jobs, improving education and passing a sustainable, no-new-taxes budget. I’m confident that my colleagues in the Senate are adhering to that position, as evidenced by the Senate’s bipartisan budget proposal that was approved 30-18 with nine members of the minority party voting in favor of it.

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Strengthening ethics law, looking at mental health reform

As sessions go, 2013 has been one of the most successful I’ve experienced in nearly 20 years. I introduced 39 pieces of legislation this year (many of which were reintroductions of bills I proposed in past years); 10 of them are now going to become law plus three more House bills that are companions to bills I sponsored. That is an historic amount for this legislator! So far, the governor has signed only two of my bills, however bills passed by both the House and Senate will become law with or without the governor’s ceremonial signature. He only has the power to veto some or all of a passed bill. My first bill signed into law is SB 5274, which requires the Department of Licensing to allow private motorcycle skills education programs (i.e. Harley-Davidson) to offer motorcycle safety education where students pay the full cost for the training. Inslee signed that bill on April 22 and sent me a very thoughtful letter of appreciation. The second is SB 5466, a technical clean-up measure requested by the Washington State Patrol that will coalesce WSP recordkeeping procedures with processes and protocols required under state law. It was signed by the governor on April 23rd.

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Senate passes a bipartisan budget

When the Majority Coalition Caucus formed late last year, critics said it would never hold together. Some said a bipartisan collection of lawmakers gathered around a set of common principles and beliefs would fall apart within weeks. Yet members of the Washington State Senate recently passed an operating budget proposal that had the support of not only the bipartisan Majority Coalition, but a number of members of the minority party as well. 

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Many of my bills are approved by the House

Once Senate bills move to the House of Representatives for consideration, they must undergo the same process there as they did where they originated. Fortunately, some of my bills have seen success in the other chamber and I wanted to share those with you. 

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