Kristiansen E-mail Update: What I am doing for you in Olympia| April 15, 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

Only 11 days remain of the 105-day regular legislative session, which is scheduled to adjourn April 26. Both the House and Senate have rolled out their respective proposals for the operating, capital and transportation budgets. All have passed their respective chambers. Negotiations on each of these important budget items are ongoing.

Last week in my e-newsletter, I gave you a glimpse of the differences between the proposed House and Senate operating budgets. Since then, our staff has worked up an even better and more accurate comparison, which you can see here. . .

House-SenateBudgetDetailedChart

Since today is April 15, "tax day," it is appropriate to talk about taxes and what I'm trying to do to keep more money in your pockets. As I mentioned in this e-newsletter last week, Washington is getting a record increase of tax revenue -- an additional $3 billion under our current system. And that's without tax increases. We don't need to raise taxes as the Democrats have proposed. We simply should prioritize between our "needs" and our "wants." That means making some difficult, but reasonable decisions among the two parties' budget writers in the House and Senate who have proposed competing operating budget proposals. As the leader of the House Republican Caucus, I am working to bring all sides together to negotiate an operating budget proposal that is sustainable and fiscally responsible for the state of Washington.

Last month, in both The Arlington Times and The Marysville Globe, an article was published entitled, "This is what your lawmakers are doing in Marysville and Arlington." It listed the number of bills sponsored by local lawmakers and a brief description of some of those measures. It also said "Rep. Dan Kristianson has sponsored 0 (zero) bills."

Although the newspaper misspelled my name, it is correct that I have not sponsored any bills this session. However, before you make a judgment about that, I would invite you to read my response to the newspaper, which you can find below.

The newspaper's editor declined my response, saying: "If I give Kristiansen a chance to explain, then I have to give all of the others a chance to explain. And we don't have room for that."

There is room in this e-newsletter for that explanation, which I believe is important. I always try in my correspondence to help educate the public about the legislative process. Volume of bills sponsored is not an accurate measure of effectiveness in Olympia, as you will see in the article below.

Please contact my office with your questions, comments and suggestions about any issues in this e-newsletter or other matters relating to legislation and state government. It is an honor to serve and represent you!

In your service,

Dan

Rep. Dan Kristiansen - One of the Legislature's four top leaders

Effective leadership in Olympia is not measured by volume of bill sponsorships
By Rep. Dan Kristiansen

Recently, an article appeared in the Arlington Times which asked the question: “Are your lawmakers doing what you want them to in Olympia?” The article listed several local lawmakers, the number of bills they have sponsored, and a brief description of several of those measures. It also read “Rep. Dan Kristianson (sic) has sponsored 0 (zero) bills.” That’s a stark difference from the other lawmakers listed.

The average reader may take this as, “Wow, no bills! So what is Rep. Kristiansen doing in Olympia?”

Here’s my response to help readers and constituents understand that I am working very hard on their behalf.

In total, since first taking office in 2003, I have sponsored 34 bills, four resolutions (these are to honor notable people and groups in Washington) and one joint memorial (which is a letter to the president and Congress). I’m proud to say seven of those bills became law and all of the resolutions were adopted.

Anyone who truly knows the inner-workings of the Legislature, understands statistics like these are meaningless. If volume of bills was an accurate measurement, it might be argued that one senator was most effective because he introduced 136 bills during a biennium several years ago. The most infamous of his legislation was a proposal to allow dogs in bars. Incidentally, he’s no longer in the Legislature.

My role as a legislator is far greater than how many bills I sponsor during a session.Rep. Dan Kristiansen leads the House Republicans Communicator, problem solver, negotiator, diplomat, mediator: these are skills of effectiveness that good legislators bring to the table that cannot be measured in bill sponsorships. It is because of these skills that my caucus chose me to become House Republican leader two years ago. That’s just one step away from the highest honored position in the House – that of Speaker.

Frank Chopp is the longest serving Speaker in the Washington State House of Representatives. In 16 years, Speaker Chopp has introduced 45 resolutions honoring various people, but he has not sponsored or passed any of his own bills. Zero! This is common for a leader in the House.

As a state representative, I am not only representing my own district, answering phone calls, e-mails and letters from constituents, meeting with them, working to solve government-related problems for them, and doing all as I did in the past, but as House Republican leader, my role is now broader. Two years ago, I helped bring Senate Republicans and House Democrats together during contentious budget negotiations. They used my office as a neutral ground for discussions – “Switzerland” as one lawmaker called it – and I worked to facilitate communications. This helped to produce a bipartisan budget – the first in more than a decade – and we averted a government shutdown.

Frequently, when a constituent brings me a good idea for legislation, I will give that to other legislators for sponsorship so they can get the credit. As leader, I am also the “big picture” guy looking at issues with a broad wide-angle lens, becoming the conscience in the room, and bringing people from all sides together, including the governor, as we discuss what is most important and best for the citizens of Washington.

Effective leadership and representation of one’s district is not accurately measured by the amount of bills a legislator introduces. It is measured by how involved and engaged a legislator is in his or her district and in bringing the voice of the people to Olympia as we represent them at the state Capitol. That’s what I’m doing as your representative and as leader of the Washington House Republican Caucus.

State Representative Dan Kristiansen
39th Legislative District
335C Legislative Building - P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000
 Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest  Google Plus  Instagram  Flickr  YouTube  iTunes

Kristiansen E-mail Update: A tale of two budgets | April 10, 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

Both the House Democrats and the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus (Republicans) have passed competing operating budgets out of their respective chambers.

Below is a brief side-by-side comparison of both budget proposals. I think there are things to like and dislike in both proposals. I like the fact that both proposals add millions of dollars to K-12 education, which should satisfy the state Supreme Court "McCleary Decision" requirements. Both the House and Senate recognize what a tremendous burden the high cost of tuition is on students in our colleges and universities, so they attempt to address those concerns in these proposals.House D Senate R budgets

I am very concerned, however, that House Democrats have passed their budget proposal, which is based on raising taxes by more than $1.5 billion. Their "revenue" (tax increase) package would include, among other items: a new capital gains income tax; an increase of business and occupation taxes on service businesses, which could impact our small Main Street Mom and Pop businesses; and extending the sales tax to bottled water, which voters rejected a few years ago. Interestingly enough, the Democrats have not brought up their tax increase bill for a vote in the House Finance Committee. Yet, they've passed a budget that relies on that bill.

The Senate proposal does not rely on tax increases. They recognize what I've been saying all along -- that the state is already getting a record pay raise -- more than $3 billion in additional tax collections because of a better economy. That's a 9 percent raise -- a lot more than most people have seen in their paychecks. We don't need a tax increase! But House Democrats want spending to be increased by 15 percent! And that brings me back to what I frequently say: Washington doesn't have a revenue problem -- it has a SPENDING problem!

Last week, I asked recipients of this email update to answer this question:

Do you support House Democrats' tax increase proposal? Here are the results:

  • No, the state should live within its means: 84.51%
  • Yes, the state needs more revenue to provide more services: 12.68%
  • Not sure, need more information: 2.82%

The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn its regular session on April 26. Between now and that date, lawmakers from both chambers will need to get together to hammer out a compromise two-year budget, which will likely look much different from the two budgets presented here. We owe it to you, the taxpayers, to have this task finished and to be done on time by the end of the 105-day regular session.

Please contact my office with your questions, comments and suggestions about the budget proposal or any other matters relating to legislation and state government. It is an honor to serve and represent you!

In your service,

Dan

 A tale of two budgets
A brief comparison of the House and Senate budget proposals
PROPOSAL House Democrat
Operating Budget
Senate Majority Coalition Caucus Operating Budget
Taxes Relies on $1.5 billion in new taxes and tax increases including: a new capital gains income tax, an increase in the B&O tax for service businesses, and extension of the sales tax to bottled water and to Internet purchases No new taxes. Allows 15 exemptions to expire. Budget would make state live within existing revenues (which includes a $3 billion increase in revenues without tax hikes.)
Spending Would spend $38.9 billion -- up from current $33.8 billion budget -  a 15 percent increase Would spend $37.8 billion
K-12 education $740 million for maintenance, supplies and operations $741 million for maintenance, supplies and operations
 All-day kindergarten  $180 million  $184 million
Higher education tuition  Would freeze tuition rates Would decrease existing tuition prices by 25 percent
State employee compensation Three percent increase in 2016 and 1.8 percent increase in 2017 $2,000 raise for all state employees. Up to 25,000 of the state's lowest-paid workers would receive higher wages than the negotiated collective bargaining agreement
Eliminates the state spending limit? Yes No
Savings held for emergencies Only $4 million would remain in the state's ending fund balance for 2017-19 $500 million left in the bank, plus $900 million for state's rainy day fund
I-1351 class-size funding Includes only full-day kindergarten and class-size reductions already called for under McCleary decision. Voters will not get to decide Would pay for class-size reductions for kindergarten through third grade. Would send the proposed change back to voters to decide in November
State Representative Dan Kristiansen
39th Legislative District
335C Legislative Building - P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000
 Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest  Google Plus  Instagram  Flickr  YouTube  iTunes

Kristiansen E-mail Update: Q and A on the House Democratic operating budget proposal | April 3, 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

House Democrats released their operating budget proposal on Friday. They were originally going to hold a public hearing only two hours later. However, they agreed to wait until Monday after I wrote a letter to House Speaker Frank Chopp, which was signed by my Republican leadership team, asking him to give the public time to review and digest the document before holding a public hearing.

You can view the House Democratic operating budget spending plan here. It is House Democrat budget proposalcontained within House Bill 1106, which was voted off the House floor yesterday on a party-line vote, 51-47, with Republicans voting no. On Tuesday, the House Finance Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 2224, the tax increase proposal. It has yet to pass from the Finance Committee, so the budget that passed yesterday based on these taxes is essentially not completely funded.

Senate Republicans (Majority Coalition Caucus) also released their operating budget proposal Monday. It seems to be a more responsible package that does not rely on tax increases, but prioritizes spending in the budget. They were debating their version overnight last night and into the early morning hours before calling it quits without a final vote. They're expected to take up their budget again later. We'll examine that spending plan more closely in this e-newsletter next week.

For this week, I have provided a quick "Question and Answer" session below to help you understand the House Democratic operating budget proposal. Also, I invite you to watch my Legislative Update video here for additional information of my views on this plan.

Please contact my office with your questions, comments and suggestions about the budget proposal or any other matters relating to legislation and state government. It is an honor to serve and represent you!

In your service,

Dan

House Democratic Operating Budget Proposal
Questions and Answers

Q: House Democrats have released their two-year operating budget proposal. What does it look like?

A: Very succinctly, it looks like a lot of new tax increases and additional spending. The proposed operating budget would spend about $39 billion dollars over the next two years, starting in July. That’s up considerably from the current operating budget of about $34 billion dollars. It is a $5 BILLION SPENDING INCREASE.

Excluding teacher compensation and the class-size initiative, the House Democrat budget would increase funding for K-12 education by about $628 million, which would address the state Supreme Court's requirements under the McCleary decision. It would also freeze tuition at Washington’s colleges and universities. Plus, it would provide wage increases for teachers and state employees by three percent in the first year and 1.8 percent in the second year.

Q: What are your concerns about this budget proposal?

A: It would spend more money than the state is expected to take in and relies on budget/taxessignificant tax increases to make up the difference. Washington is expected to take in an additional $3 billion without tax increases. That’s nearly a nine percent increase in state revenue. There are not many people in the 39th District who have received a comparable pay increase in the last two years. Our citizens have to live within their means. However, nine percent is not enough for House Democrats. Their budget would increase spending by 15 percent.

I'm also very concerned that it eliminates the state spending limit, which has protected taxpayers for more than 20 years from unlimited government spending. To pay for all this new spending, House Democrats are proposing to raise taxes by more than $1.5 billion.

Q: What kind of tax increases are they proposing?

A: House Democrats are proposing a new 5 percent capital gains income tax on about 32,000 people. That’s about the size of the entire populations of Darrington, Granite Falls, Monroe and Snohomish combined. If you add the families of those 32,000 people who would all be affected, then you are talking about thousands upon thousands of people. I am also very concerned this new tax would be a foot in the door to a much wider and broader state income tax.

Democrats are also proposing a 20 percent business and occupation tax increase on service businesses, which would hurt Main Street Mom and Pop businesses – many who are already struggling to remain open in this uncertain economy.

Here are several other job-creating tax incentives they want to eliminate:

House D budget revenues 2015Interestingly enough, we always hear Democrats talk about the evils of “tax loopholes” and how those tax incentives should be repealed. But did you know that since 2005, 120 of the 140 tax incentive bills that were signed into law were prime-sponsored by Democrats? And all of those tax incentive bills were signed into law by Democratic governors.

Q: So what happens from here?

A: Both the House Democrats and the Senate Republicans are expected to pass their operating budget proposals individually from each chamber. Eventually, these will be merged into one proposal that will be referred to a conference committee made up of "the four corners," which are House and Senate Democrats and Senate and House Republicans. That's when budget negotiations begin. What is for certain is the budget as proposed by House Democrats will look entirely different from the final compromise budget that is passed by the House and Senate.

Q: Why and how should citizens get involved?Budget let your voice be heard

A: In Olympia, your silence means agreement. If your lawmakers hear nothing from you, they assume you agree with the policies, budgets and spending put forward. If you want government to grow by 15 percent and you want your taxes to go up more and more each year, then just sit back and watch and do nothing. But if you disagree, you need to speak up and let us know what you think of this budget plan and the proposed tax increases.

Please take a moment and answer my survey question on this very important issue. Go here to give your input:

CLICK HERE TO TAKE MY SURVEY.

This is YOUR money. You should have a voice in how it is spent and whether or not taxes are raised.

State Representative Dan Kristiansen
39th Legislative District
335C Legislative Building - P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000
 Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest  Google Plus  Instagram  Flickr  YouTube  iTunes

DATE CHANGE: Telephone town hall moved to Monday, March 30

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

Due to anticipated House floor action on Thursday evening, Rep. Elizabeth Scott and I have changed the date for our telephone town hall. Our community conversation will now be Monday, March 30, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The number you can call to participate remains the same: (360) 350-6256. We look forward to hearing your views and answering your questions.

In your service,
Dan

State Representative Dan Kristiansen
39th Legislative District
335C Legislative Building - P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000
 Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest  Google Plus  Instagram  Flickr  YouTube  iTunes

E-mail update: Telephone town hall on Thursday, April 2 | March 25, 2015

    
Dear Friends and Neighbors:
I will be hosting a telephone town hall with Rep. Elizabeth Scott on Thursday, April 2, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. To join the community conversation, please call (360) 350-6256. Similar to a call-in radio show, the format allows you to ask questions, participate in poll questions, or just listen in throughout the hour. We hope you can join us!
Questions prior to the event can be directed to me at (360) 786-7967 or dan.kristiansen@leg.wa.gov, or to Rep. Scott at (360) 786-7816 or elizabeth.scott@leg.wa.gov.
The 105-day legislative session is scheduled to adjourn April 26.
In your service,
Dan
State Representative Dan Kristiansen
39th Legislative District
335C Legislative Building - P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000
 Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest  Google Plus  Instagram  Flickr  YouTube  iTunes

E-mail update: Remembering the Oso landslide | March 20, 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

Sunday will mark the one-year anniversary of the Oso landslide. This tragic event has had a profound effect on so many of us, with thoughts that will remain for a lifetime. The Oso landslide also revealed amazing stories of heroism, compassion and perseverance in our communities and beyond. I witnessed many of these acts firsthand and it was truly inspiring. I talk about some of these experiences in my recent video update.

Medal of Valor | Senate Bill 5035

The collective response of our communities was the inspiration for Senate Bill 5035. The measure, prime sponsored by Sen. Kirk Pearson and signed into law March 2, allows the Medal of Valor to be awarded to a group of persons who saved, or attempted to save, the life of another at the risk of serious injury to themselves. Prior to this legislation, the Medal of Valor could only be awarded to individuals. This article covered the bill signing.

Recipients of the Medal of Valor are selected by a nominating committee. No one has received the award since 2007, when four people -- including 39th District residents Timothy Bourasaw and Rick Bowers -- were recognized for their valor. You can learn about their stories in this article.

The Medal of Valor was awarded for the first time in 2006. That year, Jim Swett, also from the 39th District, received the award. You can learn more about his act of courage here. This means seven out of the 12 people who have received the Medal of Valor are from the 39th District.

The Medal of Valor cannot be awarded to police officers or firefighters, or others whose actions are a result of their public duties as a first responder. More information about the Medal of Valor, in addition to the Medal of Merit, can be found at this Secretary of State Web page.

Joint session of the Legislature

There was a joint session of the Legislature for the Medal of Valor and Medal of Merit on Wednesday. The communities of Arlington, Darrington, Oso and the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe were awarded individual Medal of Valor certificates for their outstanding acts of valor and personal sacrifice, at risk of injury and death, in assisting with rescue, recovery and relief efforts of the Oso landslide. Accepting the award on behalf of their communities were: Brantly Stupey (Arlington); Quinn Nations (Darrington); Willy Harper (Oso); and Kevin Lenon (Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe). All four embody the spirit and inspiration of their communities in the aftermath of the Oso landslide.

Medal of Valor
Pictured: Sen. Kirk Pearson, Rep. Elizabeth Scott and Rep. Dan Kristiansen with the four Medal of Valor recipients and the Color Guard for the ceremony.  

The presentation of the flags was conducted by Darrington Fire District 24. The invocation was provided by Reverend Joel Johnson, Chaplain, Oso Fire Department, and pastor at Assembly of God Church in Arlington.

At the ceremony, the Medal of Merit was awarded to Gretchen Schodde and Billy Frank Jr. (deceased). These individuals are not connected to the Oso landslide, but represent amazing stories. You can learn more about them, in addition to the details of both awards, in this event program.

Pictures from the ceremony can be found in this online gallery. The Everett Herald and KOMO News were among the media outlets that covered the event.

Events this weekend

On Sunday at 9:00 a.m., Snohomish County will host an event to honor and remember the 43 people who lost their lives in the Oso landslide. SR 530 will be closed just west of Darrington and east of Oso, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. You can learn more about this event and others that will be held in the area this weekend here.

Telephone town hall on April 2

I will be hosting a telephone town hall with Rep. Elizabeth Scott on Thursday, April 2, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. To join in, simply call (360) 350-6256. Once connected, you can ask us questions or just listen in. We hope you can join us that evening.

In your service,
Dan

State Representative Dan Kristiansen
39th Legislative District
Website: www.representativedankristiansen.com
335C Legislative Building - P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000
 Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest  Google Plus  Instagram  Flickr  YouTube  iTunes

E-mail update: Four bills that constituents have contacted me about | March 16, 2015

 Rep. Dan Kristiansen
Home | About Dan | Newsroom | Sponsored Bills | 39th District Map

Dear Friends and Neighbors:
On March 11, we passed another legislative deadline. Here are a few “fun" facts you can bring up next time you have your friends over or gather around the water cooler. As of March 13, there have been 1,219 House bills, House Joint Memorials, House Joint Resolutions and House Concurrent Resolutions introduced. The House voted on and passed 327 bills. These bills have now been referred to the Senate for consideration.

You can imagine, given the number of bills introduced, the daily number of contacts from constituents encouraging me to support or oppose various bills and issues. Sometimes they agree with me; sometimes they don't. For example, in my last e-mail update on the topic of I-594 I received this sampling of feedback:

  • "Thanks Dan for your part in creating this bill." (House Bill 2164) - Bill, no hometown provided
  • "DO NOT REPEAL 594. It serves a valuable purpose. You should be able to come up with legislation that will fix its shortcomings. There is too much good in that measure to just dump it. If it requires another vote of the people, it would be worth it." - Bruce, Sedro Woolley
  • "You continually astound me with both your stupidity and obstinacy." - Bruce, Granite Falls

It is inspiring to me to know people are engaging in the legislative process and willing to share their opinions. This exchange of ideas is important to me as I decide how to vote on bills.

Four bills

Below are four bills I have received a lot of correspondence on this legislative session.

VaccinationsHouse Bill 2009 would eliminate the philosophical or personal objection exemption from child immunization requirements. This legislation, which has the full support of the governor, is controversial and the subject of several news stories. This  issue essentially comes down to parental rights and public safety. I oppose House Bill 2009. While I believe many parents should vaccinate their children, I ultimately believe it should be a choice for parents. Both options carry risks and it should be up to parents to weigh the factors.

  • Status: Passed out of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. The House Democrats chose not to bring this to the House floor for a vote before house of origin cutoff last Wednesday, which means it is likely "dead" for the rest of the legislative session.
  • Constituent feedback: "HB 2009 is an erosion of our parental rights. As parents, we have a duty to protect our children from harm, keep their bodies healthy, and research everything they consume in order to verify its safety." - Cassandra, Granite Falls

Taxation |  House Bill 1550 would clarify the taxation of amusement, recreation and physical fitness services.

  • Status: Passed off the House floor on a 70-27 vote on March 3. I was out sick this day and excused from the vote. I would have voted "no" because this measure would apply a retail sales tax to skydiving, ballooning, hangliding, paragliding and parasailing. The legislation has been referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
  • Constituent feedback: "You need to find other things to tax besides skydiving." - Kirstie, Arlington

Water rights | House Bill 1793 would require counties and cities to adopt ordinances outlining when and how alternative water supplies may be used to satisfy the potable water requirements for new construction. This would apply to a property which is not eligible to be served by a water purveyor and for which new, unmitigated surface or groundwater withdrawals are not legally available on a year-round basis. It would also require the Department of Ecology (DOE) to coordinate with local government entities and utility districts to identify possible capital projects that may assist in providing water to remedy any possible violations of a Supreme Court ruling.

  • Status: Passed off the House floor with a 53-45 vote on March 5. I voted "no" because it doesn't fix the underlying problem. This bill is a workaround for the state Department of Ecology’s Instream Flow Rule, which needs to be changed rather than placing an expensive compliance burden on people. I find it ironic the agency (DOE) that is taking away some water rights is the same agency that gave permission, through a permit, to put in a well and then are told the well can’t be used. As many know, putting in a well is not an inexpensive endeavor. This is an agency that is enforcing rules it made, not laws passed by the Legislature. These actions have adversely affected property rights and cost landowners a lot of money. The measure has been referred to the Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development Committee.
  • Constituent feedback: "Water solutions need to start with re-writing the Skagit Instream Flow Rule as it should have been written in the first place.  Not by omitting groups that need water or forcing them to un-reasonable water solutions when the answer is right under their feet." - Rich, Sedro-Woolley

Court-imposed legal financial obligations | House Bill 1390 would, among other things, eliminate interest accrual on the non-restitution portions of legal financial
obligations (LFOs).

  • Status: Passed off the House floor on a 94-4 vote on March 9. I voted "yes" because this measure would reform our state's system for court-imposed legal financial obligations. It would also ensure restitution to victims, including interest accrued on the financial obligation, is the highest priority and first obligation that must be paid. This bill has been referred to the Senate Law and Justice Committee.
  • Constituent feedback: "Our system of LFOs is unfair, delays restitution payment to victims, and makes successful reentry less likely." - Elizabeth, Sedro Woolley 

Video update: the first 60 days

I sat down at the end of last week for a video update to share my thoughts on the first 60 days of the legislative session, and what we can expect moving forward in the next month and a half. You can find the video here.

Please keep the feedback coming. I appreciate it!

In your service,
Dan

State Representative Dan Kristiansen
39th Legislative District
335C Legislative Building - P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000
 Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest  Google Plus  Instagram  Flickr  YouTube  iTunes

E-mail update: I-594: popular, but flawed | March 5, 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

Initiative 594 passed with 59.2 percent of the statewide vote last November. The initiative, which went into effect December 4, requires background checks for all gun sales and transfers. This means any time a gun is sold or exchanges hands, with a few exceptions, the parties involved must go to a licensed firearm dealer to have a background check. I-594 also doubled the waiting time on handgun sales from five to 10 days.

While popular overall, many areas of the state were not as supportive of the initiative.  Only 42.5 percent of voters supported I-594 in the 39th District. I was one of the people who voted against it.

I understand why the concept may sound good, but in practical application I-594 is presenting a number of problems to law-abiding gun owners and businesses in our state. For example, it prevents:

  • a victim of domestic violence from timely obtaining a firearm from someone to defend against an imminent threat of harm;
  • armed private security guards from doing their jobs protecting persons and property because they are issued weapons during that job;
  • veterans who have been honorably discharged from the military from using issued firearms with honor guards for funerals or flag ceremonies;
  • active duty military personnel from giving their firearms to family or friends to use while at a private shooting range or to care for their firearms while they are away on training or deployed for duty;
  • firearm safety instructors and firearm trainers from sharing firearms on a shooting range because it is considered a transfer requiring a check; and
  • certain businesses from making safety repairs to firearms or firearm accessories, such as holsters, because it is considered a transfer to receive the firearm they were asked to fix or make accessories for.

As you might expect, there have been bills introduced this year that would repeal I-594, (House Bill 1245), fix small parts of it (House Bill 1533) and even go beyond (House Bill 1747) what the initiative established.

Bipartisan legislation

There has also been a bipartisan bill introduced, which I am co-sponsor of, that would comprehensively fix the problems with I-594 explained above. House Bill 2164 would only apply to persons not otherwise disqualified from possessing a firearm. In other words, it empowers those who have followed the law. The legislation was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

Gun issues are often emotional for people and it's easy to understand why. There are those who believe strongly in the 2nd Amendment and fear their constitutional rights are being eroded. And there are others who have been personally affected by a tragedy involving gun violence. I happen to fall into both of these categories.

If you want to share your opinions on House Bill 2164, or any bill for that matter, simply go to this website, enter the bill number, and click on the "Comment on this bill" icon. This will allow you to say if you support, oppose or are neutral on legislation, and provide you an opportunity to share your comments. This information will be shared with your state lawmakers.

Survey

I would like to know your views on the I-594 issue and House Bill 2164. Please consider taking this short survey. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sultan science teacher honored by national group

Karrisa Kelley, who teaches chemistry and biology at Sultan High School, is being honored by the National Science Teacher Association for her work in the classroom. She will attend the organization's annual conference in Chicago this month. Karrisa is a great example of a teacher providing creative and hands-on learning experiences for students. Learn more in this Everett Herald article.

Honoring those who assisted in the Oso landslide rescue operations

I had an opportunity to join my 39th District seatmates in a ceremony at the Capitol for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps personnel who assisted in the Oso landslide rescue operations. It was a special and emotional event. You can watch it here (my remarks are at the 12:40 mark).

As the anniversary of the Oso landslide approaches, I will be sharing more information about what we will be doing in the Legislature to honor the victims and communities.

In your service,
Dan

State Representative Dan Kristiansen
39th Legislative District
335C Legislative Building - P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000
 Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest  Google Plus  Instagram  Flickr  YouTube  iTunes

E-mail update: Understanding the legislative calendar | February 26, 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

It's hard to believe, but it's day 46 of the 105-day legislative session. With the midway point fast approaching, I thought it would be a good time to explain where we are at in the legislative process and what you can expect from your citizen Legislature in the upcoming months.

Session Cutoff Calendar

Believe it or not, the Legislature is actually a pretty organized place. Each year, state lawmakers set deadlines for themselves to provide consistency for the House and Senate. This helps the legislative process run smoothly and ensures a level of predictability for anyone who wants to be involved.The Legislature is guided each year by an official Session Cutoff Calendar. This document is approved at the very beginning of the legislative session. On this calendar is a set of six cutoff dates. These are important deadlines that allow state lawmakers to narrow their focus and the amount of bills they have to consider.

Policy committee cutoff

The first deadline was policy committee cutoff on February 20. All policy bills without a fiscal impact must pass out of their respective committees or they are generally considered "dead" for the year. A "dead" bill can best be described as one that will likely not move forward in the Legislature in its current form.

One of the results of policy committee cutoff is many bills move from policy committees to fiscal committees (Appropriations, Capital Budget, Finance, Transportation and General Government and Information Technology). Fiscal committees handle bills that have some kind of fiscal impact on the state. Fiscal impact generally means $50,000 or more, but there is no set rule.

Fiscal committee cutoff

This leads us to our next deadline: fiscal committee cutoff on February 27. This is when all bills with a fiscal impact must pass out of the previously mentioned fiscal committees. As you might expect, and as this House calendar shows, these committees have been very busy this week.

House Rules Committee

Once bills pass out of policy and/or fiscal committees, it doesn't mean they go straight to the House floor. Most measures go to the House Rules Committee, where they sit until someone from that committee "pulls" them to the House floor. I sit on this committee. If a bill is pulled, it can move to the House floor for a full vote of 98 state representatives. It takes at least 50 votes to pass legislation.

Upcoming deadlines

Here are the upcoming deadlines for the Legislature:

  • March 11 – house of origin cutoff. All House and Senate bills must pass out of their respective chambers or they are generally considered "dead" for the year. The exception to this rule are bills "necessary to implement the budget."
  • April 1 – opposite house policy committee cutoff. As the House and Senate consider bills from the opposite chamber, all bills without a fiscal impact must pass out of their respective policy committees or they are generally considered "dead" for the year.
  • April 7 – opposite house fiscal committee cutoff. Bills from the opposite chamber with a fiscal impact must pass out of their respective fiscal committees.
  • April 15 – opposite house cutoff. All Senate bills in the House, and House bills in the Senate, must pass out of the opposite chamber. Again, the exception to this rule are bills "necessary to implement the budget."
  • April 26 – Last day of the legislative session.

"Dead or alive" bill list

At the policy committee cutoff each year, Washington House Republicans put together a "dead or alive" bill list. These are bills we think the public might be interested in learning more about. You can find the list in this blog post.

Tracking and commenting on bills

It's easy to track and comment on bills. If you go to this website, you can register for an account that allows you to customize bill-tracking lists.

If you want to share your views on bills, the process is even easier. All you have to do is go to this website, enter a bill number and click on the "Comment on this bill" icon. This will allow you to say if you support, oppose or are neutral on legislation, and provide you an opportunity to share your opinions. This information will be shared with your state lawmakers.

If there is a bill you are interested in and you see it on a committee agenda, please contact my office and I can explain how you can be involved in the legislative process.

Following House floor action 

You can find future calendars for both the House and Senate here. If you want to stay updated on what's happening on the House and Senate floors, you can find activity reports here.

Save the date: April 2

I will be hosting another telephone town hall meeting on Thursday, April 2, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. I will provide you the call-in number in future e-mail updates.

In your service,
Dan

State Representative Dan Kristiansen
39th Legislative District
335C Legislative Building - P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000
 Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest  Google Plus  Instagram  Flickr  YouTube  iTunes

E-mail update: K-12 education spending | February 19, 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

We all know how important education is to families and our state. A strong education system is the foundation for strong communities. My wife and I have raised three children and helped a fourth be adequately raised and educated, and I understand the task at hand. I believe parents and/or guardians are the primary educators of their children, and schools play a big part in helping parents with this monumental responsibility.

What does the state constitution say about education in this state?

The people who drafted our state constitution also understood the importance of education. Article IX, Section 1, says: "It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex." Article IX, Section 2, says: "The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools."

The McCleary decision and the education debate

There has been a great debate the last few years about our state's role in funding its K-12 education system. Our state Supreme Court initiated this debate with its McCleary decision in 2012, which said the state (specifically, the Legislature) was not upholding its constitutional duty to adequately fund basic education. This timeline explains the McCleary decision and other aspects of K-12 education spending.

While the state Supreme Court, in its opinion, ruled our state does not spend enough on education, a question needs to be asked: Does the state Supreme Court, whose duty is to interpret the law, have the constitutional right to force the Legislature to act?

Many of you have contacted me to share your opinions on this issue. Some believe our state does not spend enough, some think we spend enough but not in the right ways, some think our state spends too much and should be more focused on other areas, and some would simply like more information. Regardless of where you are on this spectrum, I thought some facts might be helpful.

Operating budget | How are schools budgeted for?

Every other year, state lawmakers craft a two-year operating budget that takes effect on July 1 of that year. This budget pays for our state's K-12 public schools, human services, health care, higher education, debt service, corrections system, general government, natural resources, and other financial obligations. Here is a breakdown of the areas by percentages from the 2013-15 operating budget:

  • 45.2% | K-12 public schools
  • 17.1% | Department of Health and Social Services
  • 12.7% | Health Care Authority
  • 9.2% | Higher education
  • 5.5% | Debt service
  • 5% | Department of Corrections
  • 4.5% | All other (including legislative and judicial)
  • 0.8% | Natural resources

Source: Washington State Operating Budget Briefing Book (January 2015) -- page 17.

The 2013-15 operating budget dedicates $15.3 billion to K-12 education. By comparison, the 1999-2001 operating budget spent $9.4 billion on K-12 education, representing 43% of the total near general fund. Source: K-12 Finance Overview (January 2015) -- page 9.

Where do the taxes come from for the operating budget?

The best known tax is the sales and use tax that is added to the total of our purchases.  Almost every tangible item we buy is subject to the tax. One major exception is food.  The sales tax is one of the major sources of state revenue. Both of these taxes combined are forecasted to contribute around 52% of the money for the 2015-17 operating budget. Another familiar tax is the business and occupation tax (B&O), which will add about 20%. The state property tax will contribute approximately 11%, so every homeowner and property owner pays this tax. Source: Washington State Operating Budget Briefing Book (January 2015) -- page 8.

What laws established our state system of basic education?

Two major pieces of legislation established our state's current system of basic education: House Bill 2261 from 2009, and House Bill 2776 from 2010. This presentation (pages 15-17) explains what these measures established.

Our state allocates funding through pre-established school model formulas. From there, local school district board members decide how this funding is used.

The state has 295 school districts and educates 1,041,000 students (in 2000, this number was around 988,000). Our state has 62,480 certified instructional staff, 4,100 certified administrative staff and 37,273 classified staff. Source: K-12 Finance Overview (January 2015) -- page 4.

Where do school districts get their money?

When school district board members write their operating budgets, they rely on funding from four primary sources: the state (around 68%); local taxes, primarily maintenance and operation levies that are a tax against assessed property, (around 23%); the federal government (around 8%); and miscellaneous sources (around 1%). Source: K-12 Finance Overview (January 2015) -- page 6.  

In the 2014-15 school year, schools districts across our state will collectively receive $11.6 billion from these sources. In the 2000-01 school year, that number was $6.7 billion. Total school district operating revenue has increased 3.3% on average annually. Source: K-12 Finance Overview (January 2015) -- page 7. 

Per pupil spending

Another statistic you may have heard about is cost per pupil. For the 2014-15 school year, K-12 public schools' cost per pupil in our state is estimated to be $11,303. In the 2000-01 school year, cost per pupil was $7,041. School district operating costs are projected to increase by 6.9% per pupil in the 2014-15 school year. Source: K-12 Finance Overview (January 2015) -- page 8.

Does lottery revenue go toward education?

I am often asked, especially during telephone town hall meetings, where does lottery revenue go? For the 2013-15 budget cycle, the state is expected to generate $288.1 million in revenue from the lottery. Here is a breakdown of where that money will go:

Source: Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast (November 2014) -- page 75.

The revenue generated from the lottery is only a small portion of what is needed to pay for basic education in our state.

2015 legislative session

K-12 education spending will continue to be front and center throughout the 2015 legislative session. Will the current make-up of the Legislature increase K-12 education funding by finally prioritizing it in the budget process, or raise taxes?

My stance has been consistent: I believe we should fund education first, as is required by our state constitution, and that new tax increases should be the absolute last resort.

I will keep you updated throughout the legislative session as we continue working on the operating budget. As always, I welcome your feedback.

In your service,
Dan

State Representative Dan Kristiansen
39th Legislative District
335C Legislative Building - P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000
 Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest  Google Plus  Instagram  Flickr  YouTube  iTunes