Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I was so honored to have my hometown pastor, Steve Brewer from Eastmont Baptist Church (pictured below) come to Olympia to spend time with me and offer the opening prayer in the House Chambers. I was so proud to have him address the House of Representatives on February 22, and it is always nice to have visitors from home in Olympia. You can watch his prayer here.
The first cutoff deadline
We've reached an important point in the 2013 legislative session, our first cutoff deadline. All bills must be out of House policy committees in order to still be “alive” and eligible to move forward in the legislative process, except those with fiscal notes or those necessary to implement the budget.
The bills which have advanced will next have the option of being heard in the House chambers and voted on by the full House of Representatives. In the near future we will begin to hear the 2013 operating budget proposals, and House Republicans have already begun crafting a budget which will fund education first, provide for the most vulnerable and protect public safety. I will bring you more information on our proposal in coming weeks after the March 20 revenue forecast.
A look into the committee process
I recently brokered a compromise on a piece of legislation which is a good illustration of how a bill is sometimes improved during the committee process.
House Bill 1562 would fund two professional development days for K-12 educators so they could better understand new evaluation systems. Legislation enacted in past years requires development of revised evaluation systems for teachers and principals. Instead of simply a satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade, teachers would have eight new evaluation criteria. This will help our teachers better understand expectations when teaching our children in the classroom.
The education community agrees our teachers deserve time to better understand how they will be evaluated in the future. But the sticking point for Republicans was that there was no date for these days to stop being funded. In effect, they would be accounted for in our state budget forever. If all House Republicans voted against this bill, it would have still passed the Education Committee. However, in the bigger picture, a split vote in a committee does not put the legislation on a successful course. Educators in the state of Washington need this legislation to pass in some form, so a failure in the legislative process is unacceptable.
I crafted an amendment which I hoped would garner the support from both my Republican and Democratic colleagues. The amendment was designed to fund the professional development days for the next two years, rather than fund them indefinitely. This amendment was supported by the Democrats and switched all of the Republican votes from a “No” to a “Yes.” The unanimous committee vote greatly increases the bill's likelihood of passage. You can watch my amendment being approved in the House Education Committee here.
As always, it is an honor to serve as your state representative. Please contact me if you have any questions or comments about how I can best represent you.
122G Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7832 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000