Hawkins pre-files legislation for 2014 session to save money, increase transparency
Hawkins pre-files legislation for 2014 session to save election dollars, increase transparency
Rep. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, pre-filed three bills this week for consideration in the upcoming 2014 legislative session. Legislators were allowed to “pre-file” legislation starting Dec. 2 for next year's session. One of his bills is aimed at reducing unexpected election costs for counties while the others continue his efforts to promote transparency in government.
“These are bills I have been working on since last session,” Hawkins said. “With the shorter, sixty-day session just around the corner, I knew I had to work ahead in order to give the bills the best opportunity to advance.”
Hawkins introduced the first bill, House Bill 2106, in response to an unexpected result from a 2013 law which led to additional costs in a Chelan County election. Hawkins' proposal would allow counties to save money by not holding a primary election when just one candidate for a county position has filed to fill an unexpired term.
“The Legislature did not anticipate the burden last year's bill could place on counties for primary elections,” Hawkins said. “This should not have been overlooked, but now we need to correct this error for the counties in our district and others throughout the state.”
The proposal is co-sponsored by the chair and vice-chair of the House Government Operations and Elections Committee, improving its odds of passage in 2014. Hawkins' seatmate, Rep. Cary Condotta, R-East Wenatchee, also co-sponsored the legislation.
House Bill 2058, sponsored by Hawkins and Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, was signed into law earlier this year. It directed the Office of Financial Management (OFM) and the Legislative Evaluation and Accountability Program (LEAP) Committee to create a user-friendly online map to display capital and transportation spending by legislative district and county. That map is expected to be completed in January 2014.
House Bill 2104, introduced this week, would build upon that work by expanding information provided to include a link to state contracts by January 2015.
“Representative Riccelli and I believe transparency is a critical aspect of government – and not a partisan issue. It is worthwhile for us to continue providing information about how taxpayers' dollars are spent so we have a more effective democracy,” Hawkins said. “We worked really well together last session and plan to continue our efforts.”
The third piece of legislation introduced by Hawkins this week also deals with government transparency. House Bill 2105 would amend the state's Open Public Meetings Act to require meeting agendas for any public agency with a governing body to be made available online 24 hours before a meeting. Under the Act, public agencies include any state board, commission, committee, department, educational institution, state agency or local government. Exceptions would be made for governing bodies without a website and those with fewer than five employees. The legislation does not change any current laws about notice of public meetings.
“I have always been surprised that the state's Open Public Meetings Act only requires entities to give notice – and not also to publish agendas,” Hawkins said. “This bill takes a modest first step at modernizing the law to reflect our online accessibility.”
All three bills have Republican and Democratic co-sponsors, something that was important to Hawkins.
“I think the Legislature accomplishes its best work when lawmakers work together. I have been very intentional in this regard and I want it to become the basis for how I can get things done for our district,” Hawkins said. “It is my hope these three common-sense bills will receive the same support throughout the entire legislative process. I am optimistic we can get public hearings scheduled for these bills early in the process to help increase their chances of passage in the short sixty-day session.”
The 2014 legislative session is scheduled to begin Jan. 13, 2014.
###Washington State House Republican Communications