By Polly Keary, Editor
The 2014 legislative session ended March 13, on schedule for the first time since 2009, with a budget complete, and the Sky Valley’s three lawmakers headed back home.
Representative Dan Kristiansen shared his reflections of the session on the Opinion page in this issue. In coming weeks, the Monroe Monitor will discuss the session with Senator Kirk Pearson of Monroe and Representative Elizabeth Scott of Monroe. All three Sky Valley lawmakers are Republican.
This week, we look at the records of the officials; what bills did they sponsor, and how did they vote?
While it would be impossible to report on every vote—lawmakers vote on hundreds of laws each year— we include items of particular interest to the Sky Valley, or of statewide significance.
Although Dan Kristiansen, 51, didn’t introduce any bills this year, he had a very busy session. Last April he was named head of the Republican Caucus, and as such, it was his job to organize and lead the members of his party.
He also sits on the powerful Rules Committee, which decides which proposed bills will get a hearing in the House of Representatives and which will not.
He was lauded by some representatives on both sides of the aisle this year for ushering in what they called a more collaborative tone between Democrats and Republicans. That didn’t sit well with some hard-liners, however, who said that in order for the minority Republicans to win more seats, they’ll need to be more combative.
Dan Kristiansen voted 508 times during the legislative session. Two key votes were on the supplementary budgets. In even-numbered years, the two-year budgets are only fine-tuned.
Improvement in the economy last year meant a slightly larger budget, and the legislature increased spending by about $155 million in the supplemental operating budget. About $125 million is going to education and long-term care, mental health and developmental disabilities, and $30 million is going to other state programs.
A proposed supplemental capital budget would also have included some spending increases on bonds for higher education, the Department of Corrections, flood relief and more. The Senate and the House couldn’t agree, so the budget was not passed.
Kristiansen voted in favor of both budgets.
Among the other bills Kristiansen supported were:
Senate Bill 6552, a bill to move $97 million to support a new 24-credit graduation requirement, including more materials, supplies and operating costs. Also included was funding for reduced class sizes in high school lab sciences. The bill passed.
HB 2797, to allocate $700 million for bonds backed by the state lottery for schools to build classrooms for all-day kindergarten and to reduce class sizes for grades K-3. The bill passed in the House and died in the Senate.
HB 2192, a bill to promote economic development by reforming some state permitting and review processes. The bill passed.
HB 2309, to reform laws to increase flexibility for payment of property taxes, and to allow waivers of certain penalties. The bill passed in committee but never got further.
HB 2094, to move sales taxes from transportation projects to the motor vehicle account instead of the general fund. The bill never got a hearing.
HB 2363, to allow families of military service members to retain eligibility for developmental disability services while living out of state, as long as they remain state residents. The bill passed.
HB 2507, to increase the penalty for DUI from a Class C to a Class B felony. The bill got a hearing but never got further.
Kristiansen voted against:
HB 2672, to increase the state minimum wage to $12 per hour over the course of three years. The bill passed one committee but died in another.
HB 2795, a new 75 percent tax on tobacco substitutes such as e-cigarettes. The bill passed in committee but got no further.
Elizabeth Scott, serving her first term in the House of Representatives, introduced four pieces of legislation this year.
House Resolution 4686 recognized Black History Month and honored George W. Bush. The resolution passed by voice vote.
HB 2190 created the crime of female genital mutilation, a common practice in other parts of the world. The bill was referred to the Public Safety Committee.
HB 2191, related to compliance with inspections of child care facilities. The bill passed.
House Joint Resolution 4213, to amend the state constitution to impose term limits in the Senate and House of Representatives. The resolution did not pass.
She also offered three amendments to existing bills; among them an amendment to reduce the size of a committee on education for students with disabilities, which failed. An amendment to exempt road sanders from requirements to cover their loads also failed, but an amendment to keep criminal records of juveniles convicted of serious violent or sex crimes open unless formally sealed passed.
Scott also voted on 508 bills this session.
Her voting record matched that of Kristiansen on the above bills which she was able to vote, with the exception of the House Bill 2797, for bonds for all day kindergarten and reduced class sizes for grades K-3. She voted against that bill.
Scott voted in favor of:
HB 1840, to bar people under domestic violence restraining orders from possessing guns. Scott had opposed the 2013 version of the bill. The bill passed.
SB 5318, removing the one-year waiting period for veterans or active military to become eligible for in-state tuition. The bill passed.
HB 2616, providing more support for developmentally or intellectually disabled parents who are at risk of losing their children. The bill passed.
HB 2725, to allow families to petition the courts to order family members to get treatment for mental illnesses. The bill passed in committee but didn’t get any further.
HB 1817, to allow children of illegal immigrants to seek financial aid to go to college. The bill passed.
SB 6065, to prohibit children under 18 from using UV tanning beds. The bill passed.
HB 2451, to ban practices that claim to help people change their sexual orientation. The bill passed in the House but died in the Senate.
HB 1279, to allow teens ages 16 and 17 to pre-register to vote when getting a driver’s license, so that they would already be registered when they turned 18. The bill passed in the house but died in the senate.
Kirk Pearson, serving his first term in the Senate, had a very busy session. He introduced 13 pieces of legislation. Highlights were:
SB 6248, making possession of the tools of financial fraud a crime. The bill passed in the Senate.
Bills introduced but that haven’t become law included a law to increase penalties for second degree manslaughter and to require supervision of domestic violence offenders.
SB 6096, to provide property tax exemptions for some new construction of industrial and manufacturing facilities in certain urban areas, passed out of the Senate, as did a bill concerning fire damage to public and private forests, and a bill concerning state parks partnership opportunities.
Pearson voted 353 times.
Pearson voted in favor of:
SB 5875, to extend until 2019 a $40 fee on real estate deals. The money goes to homeless shelters and other low-income housing efforts. The bill passed.
SB 6010, to establish penalties for possession of altered or shaved keys, which are used to commit property crimes. The bill passed in the Senate but failed to clear the House.
SB 5048, to allow posting of anti-trespassing signs to include orange paint on trees in some cases, to address problems of posted signs being taken down. The bill passed in the Senate.
Senate Joint Resolution 8213, to amend the state constitution to require a two-thirds majority of the legislature to raise taxes. The resolution failed in the Senate.
Pearson voted against:
HB 1742, to allow sales of growlers of wine, which are containers that can be filled on the premises and carried out. The bill passed in the Senate.
SB 6523, to allow children of illegal immigrants to seek financial aid to go to college in Washington. The bill passed.
SB 6327, to expand the categories of offenses eligible for the parenting program with the Department of Corrections. The bill passed in the Senate.