04-08-14: E-mail update from Rep. Dan Kristiansen – How you can help in the aftermath of the Oso mudslide

Rep. Dan Kristiansen

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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Our communities continue to respond and cope in the aftermath of the Oso mudslide. The collective strength and courage of the people involved is pushing back on the devastation and sadness. The best of our communities is on display in our greatest time of need. There are so many individuals and groups to acknowledge and thank, but it begins with the first responders and local citizens who continue to work tirelessly on recovery efforts. So many people have played roles – small and large. It is truly inspiring.

I haven’t taken to the podium in the news conferences I have participated in, or sought to be be a part of the stories that have appeared in our news outlets. Rather, I’m just trying to do all I can behind the scenes to help. Since March 22, I have participated in briefings with the governor and other officials, attended community meetings in Darrington and Arlington, assisted with coordination of some charitable endeavors, listened and responded to those who are working on the recovery, and helped with logistics for various things. I have also spent time at the slide site with local citizens and search-and-rescue teams. Like everyone else, I wish I could do more.   

How you can help

Many of you have contacted me expressing your concern and desire to help. I really appreciate it. There are many outstanding charitable and fundraising causes. Perhaps you are directly involved with some of these causes. The Everett Herald lists many of them here. I join our Secretary of State in reminding people there are scam artists out there who are willing to take advantage of our generosity. Please be careful if you decide to help financially. Below are a few efforts that I would like to highlight: 

  • American Red Cross - Snohomish County
  • United Way of Snohomish County
  • Coastal Community Bank is accepting donations for slide victims at all branches: Darrington, Camano Island, Everett, Monroe, Stanwood, Sultan, Silver Lake, Smokey Point, Snohomish and Whidbey Island. You can find more information here.
  • Glad Tidings Assembly of God and Pastor Les Hagan have set up an account specifically for Darrington residents’ relief. All of the funds donated will be used to assist residents affected by this tragedy. The church address is: P.O. Box 429, Darrington, WA 98241. The church phone number is (360) 436-1911. His e-mail is: les.hagen@frontier.com

Staying updated

A good resource to stay updated on recovery and relief efforts continues to be this Snohomish County website. Snohomish County has also created a Facebook page to help coordinate and organize various relief efforts. For those of you who use Twitter, some of the related hash tags are #530slide, #helposo and #OsoStrong.

Sorting out the facts

There have been news stories that discuss logging, actions of government and the response with respect to the Oso mudslide. I understand the media has a job to do and there are important questions that need to be answered. It is critical that we sort out all of the facts to determine what, if anything, could have been done to prevent and respond to this tragic event. There might be new public policy proposals that emerge based on these facts. I look forward to being a part of that process and hope you will be a part of it, too. But for right now, I remain focused on the on the recovery efforts and helping those impacted the most.

Save the date: May 15

Rep. Elizabeth Scott and I will be hosting our final telephone town hall meeting of 2014 on Thursday, May 15, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. To listen in on this community conversation, all you have to do is dial 1-800-759-5313. From there, you can ask us questions or share your ideas if you’d like.

Your state representative year-round

Due to election-year restrictions, this is the last e-mail update I can send you until Dec. 1. I appreciate you reading these updates and being involved in the legislative process. While the legislative session is over, I am your state representative year-round. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can ever be of assistance.

In your service,

Dan Kristiansen
State Representative
39th Legislative District

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

www.houserepublicans.wa.gov Capitol Buzz News Clips Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube Delicious 

03-24-14: E-mail update from Rep. Dan Kristiansen – Oso mudslide

Rep. Dan Kristiansen

Dan Kristiansen Home    |   About Dan    |    Dan's Newsroom    |    Sponsored Bills    |    39th Legislative District Map

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Devastation and tragedy have found and impacted our local communities of Oso, Darrington and Arlington. The recent Oso mudslide is a reminder of how we are sometimes powerless to the unpredictable forces of nature.

I spent most of yesterday in these communities – meeting with citizens and officials, and listening to their stories. Words cannot describe what I witnessed and heard. This photo gallery only begins to tell the story.

In all of my meetings and discussions with federal, state and local officials, I believe all assets are being deployed and considered for rescue and recovery efforts. We know that people are missing and we are doing everything we can to find them. If you think a loved one might be missing as a result of this event, please call this phone number: (425) 388-5088.

By now, you probably know there is an emergency closure in both directions of State Route 530 between Oso Loop Road and Little French Creek. The situation is still precarious for WSDOT and it could be a while before maintenance crews can begin cleanup efforts. You can find updates on the transportation-related aspects of the response here.

If you want to stay updated on this issue, this website may be your best resource. If you use Twitter, #530slide is the hashtag people are using. Snohomish County also has a Facebook page it is using as a conduit of information.

We all know these types of situations bring out the best in our communities. What I have experienced so far only confirms this belief. We are on the very front end of this tragedy and it is going to take a long time to sort out the facts and begin healing. Please keep the victims and families of the Oso, Darrington and Arlington communities in your thoughts and prayers.  

In your service,

Dan Kristiansen
State Representative
39th Legislative District

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

www.houserepublicans.wa.gov Capitol Buzz News Clips Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube Delicious 

03-17-14: E-mail update from Rep. Dan Kristiansen – The end of the 2014 legislative session

Rep. Dan Kristiansen

Dan Kristiansen Home    |   About Dan    |    Dan's Newsroom    |    Sponsored Bills    |    39th Legislative District Map

Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Washington State House of Representatives adjourns Sine Die, March 13th (60th day of the 60-Day 2014 Regular Session).

The 60-day, 2014 legislative session ended just before midnight on Thursday night. For the first time since 2009, state lawmakers are not facing a special session. If everything goes according to plan, the Legislature will not convene again until January 12, 2015.

While the legislative session is over, please remember I’m your state representative year-round. I’m here to answer your questions, listen to your ideas and help you navigate problems with state government.

Whether you respond to these e-mail updates or simply take time out of your busy day to read them, I appreciate your feedback and interest. We truly have a citizen Legislature here in Washington and your involvement in the legislative process embodies this notion. 

Below you will find some final summaries on important issues from the legislative session. For those of you who like to dig a little deeper, here is a preliminary summary of all legislation that passed this year.

In your service,

Dan Kristiansen
State Representative
39th Legislative District 

Video update: Supplemental operating, transportation and capital budgets

Our state has three primary budgets – the operating, transportation and capital budgets. In odd-numbered years, such as 2013, these two-year budgets are crafted, passed and go into effect on July 1 of that year. In even-numbered years, such as 2014, mid-course adjustments are made to these budgets. I talk about the supplemental budget process in this recent video update.

Audio update: A look back on the 2014 legislative session

I sat down with our broadcast coordinator to discuss the highlights and disappointments of the 2014 legislative session, and to look ahead to 2015. You can find the short interview here.

Supplemental operating budget

As I mentioned in my last e-mail update, the 2013-15 operating budget, which passed at the end of last June, appropriated $33.5 billion. This budget pays for state priorities such as K-12 education, higher education, health and human services, corrections, debt service, and other areas of state government. Since last June, forecasted revenue has increased and fiscal year 2013 reversions were higher than expected. This increased the fund balance for the Near General Fund-State (NGF-S) and Opportunity Pathway accounts by $441 million. In other words, primarily due to an improving economy, state lawmakers had a little more money to work with in the middle of the two-year budget cycle. 

The 2014 supplemental operating budget passed on the last day of the legislative session on a 85-13 vote. I voted for it. It increases spending by about $155 million in the NGF-S and Opportunity Pathways accounts, resulting in total appropriations of about $33.7 billion for 2013-15. The supplement operating budget leaves more than $300 million in the ending fund balance of the NGF-S and Opportunity Pathways accounts.

Of the aforementioned $155 million, $89 million is for maintenance level adjustments and $66 million is for policy adjustments. Here is a breakdown in these investments: public education K-12 ($64 million); higher education ($35 million); long-term care, mental health and developmental disabilities ($26 million); and other state programs ($30 million).

This budget is not perfect, but it represents compromise and is better than the first version that passed out of the House (I voted against this proposal). In House floor debate, there were good arguments for and against the budget. You can find that debate here.

Supplemental capital budget

The 2013-15 capital budget appropriated $3.6 billion, including general obligation (GO) bonds, cash and other funds. The capital budget, also known as the construction and bricks-and-mortar budget, provides funding for the construction and repair of public buildings and other long-term investments such as recreation infrastructure and environmental cleanup. It also authorizes the expenditure of federal funds and provides or lends money to local governments or nonprofit organizations for infrastructure, housing and facilities.

The House supplemental capital budget, which I voted for, would have made $72.9 million in new, net GO bond appropriations. These investments would have included our higher education system, the Department of Corrections, flood relief projects, our mental health system, and storm water and water quality grants.

The Senate decided to pursue a much different path to its supplemental capital budget. When it was all said and done, the differences between the House and Senate proposals were just too significant. The end result was the Legislature not passing a supplemental capital budget. This outcome is rare, but not unprecedented and happened in 1996. While this was disappointing, state lawmakers will re-group and come together next year to make important investments across our state.

Other bills of interest

K-12 education

  • Senate Bill 6552 will redirect a $97 million appropriation for increased instructional hours to support implementation of a new 24-credit graduation requirement. This will be distributed to districts through an increase in materials, supplies and operation costs (MSOC) funding and a reduced class-size allocation for laboratory science in grades 9-12. I voted for this legislation. It passed the House 93-5 and the Senate 45-2. Expected to be signed into law by the governor.
  • House Bill 2797 would have allowed for $700 million in bonds, backed by state Lottery revenue, for grants to school districts to construct classrooms for full-day kindergarten and K-3 class-size reduction. School districts would not be required to pass a local levy to match the construction funding. I supported this legislation. It passed the House 90-7, but died in the Senate.
  • No “No Child Left Behind” waiver. Due to tremendous pressure from one influential special interest group, a bill that would have simply made a minor adjustment to our state’s teacher and principal evaluation system was stopped. I supported this legislation. Its failure will likely result in the loss of $38 million in federal funding that would have helped some of our most disadvantaged students. They will likely lose the teachers and programs that support them. This outcome is unfortunate and unacceptable.

Jobs and economy

  • House Bill 2192 will promote economic development through enhancing transparency and predictability of state agency permitting and review processes. I supported this legislation. It passed the House 96-0 and the Senate 48-0. Expected to be signed into law by the governor.
  • House Bill 2672 would have increased the statewide minimum wage to $12 per hour over three years. I opposed this legislation. It passed the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee, but died in the House Appropriations Committee.

Taxes

  • House Bill 2795 would have imposed a 75 percent “other tobacco products” (OTP) tax on “tobacco substitutes,” and included e-cigarettes in the definition. It would have also imposed a requirement to purchase a license and be subject to Liquor Board oversight. Several people came to Olympia to share their stories about how e-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to smoking. I opposed this legislation. It passed the House Finance Committee, but never moved to the House floor.
  • House Bill 2309 will establish taxpayer-friendly reforms to the laws regarding county treasurer authorities in order to increase flexibility for payments of property taxes, and allow waivers of certain penalties. I heard from constituents who wanted this legislation and I supported it. It passed the House 97-0 and the Senate 44-5. Expected to be signed into law by the governor.

Transportation

  • House Bill 2094 would transfer the sales tax paid on transportation projects into the motor vehicle account rather than the general fund. This measure would allow more state gas tax dollars to be used for critical transportation infrastructure needs. I supported this legislation. It never received a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee.

Military and veterans

  • House Bill 2363 will allow spouses and children of military service members who are eligible for developmental disability services to retain that eligibility while living out of state due to military assignment as long as they remain residents of the state. I supported this legislation. It passed the House 95-0 and the Senate 49-0. Expected to be signed into law by the governor.

Public safety

  • House Bill 2506 would have increased the penalty for a DUI from a class C felony to a class B felony, resulting in offenders with more previous felony convictions who could be sentenced to community supervision after they were released from prison. I supported this legislation. It received a hearing in the House Public Safety Committee, but did not move forward.

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

www.houserepublicans.wa.gov Capitol Buzz News Clips Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube Delicious 

03-07-14: E-mail update from Rep. Dan Kristiansen – Three supplemental state budgets

Rep. Dan Kristiansen

Dan Kristiansen Home    |   About Dan    |    Dan's Newsroom    |    Sponsored Bills    |    39th Legislative District Map

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Only seven days remain in the 2014 legislative session. The state House of Representatives passed three supplemental state budgets this week – the operating, capital and transportation budgets. These proposals are now being negotiated with the state Senate and final budgets will be voted on next week. I’d like to provide you some information on the House versions of these budgets – including how I voted. 

Supplemental operating budget

The 2013-15 operating budget, which passed at the end of last June, appropriated $33.5 billion for priorities such as K-12 education, higher education, health and human services, corrections, debt service, and other areas of state government. Since then, forecasted revenue has increased and fiscal year 2013 reversions were higher than expected. This increased the fund balance for the Near General Fund-State and Opportunity Pathway accounts by $441 million. State revenue sources include: retail sales tax; business and occupation tax; property tax; real estate excise tax; and several other taxes, fees, federal revenues, transfers, etc.

The House supplemental operating budget, a striking amendment to Senate Bill 6002, would increase spending by $246 million during the two-year budget cycle – resulting in total spending of about $33.8 billion. Of the $246 million increase, about $91 million is due to maintenance level changes and a net of $155 million is due to policy changes.

In addition to this base budget, the majority party in the House also proposed a tax-increase package of around $100 million. They target extracted fuel, bottled water, prescription drugs and the non-resident sales tax exemption. Their original plan was to use this revenue to restore teacher COLAs and spend more money on early learning. We will have to see how this plays out in the next week. 

I voted against the House supplemental operating budget. It’s by no means a bad budget, but the bipartisan Senate supplemental operating budget – which passed 41-8 – more closely aligns with my budget priorities of education, public safety and taking care of those who can’t take care of themselves through no fault of their own. We took a major step forward in K-12 education funding last year, and we will need to take another important step forward next year. This year, we should just make minor, mid-course adjustments to our operating budget. I’m hoping I can vote for the negotiated, final supplemental operating budget next week.
 
Supplemental capital budget

The 2013-15 capital budget appropriated $3.6 billion, including general obligation (GO) bonds, cash and other funds. The capital budget, also known as the construction and bricks-and-mortar budget, provides funding for the construction and repair of public buildings and other long-term investments such as recreation infrastructure and environmental cleanup. It also authorizes the expenditure of federal funds and provides or lends money to local governments or nonprofit organizations for infrastructure, housing and facilities. To learn about 39th District projects, please go to this website, click on “Map Projects,” select “Legislative District,” and scroll down to “039.”

The House supplemental capital budget, a striking amendment to Senate Bill 6020, would make $72.9 million in new, net GO bond appropriations – leaving approximately $25 million in unused bond capacity. Total funds appropriated (GO bonds, cash and other funds) would be increased by $166.5 million.

I voted for the House supplemental capital budget because it would make important investments in higher education, the Department of Corrections, flood relief, mental health, and storm water and water quality grants. It also would not appropriate money for new state land acquisitions. 

Supplemental transportation budget

The 2013-15 transportation budget appropriated $8.7 billion from state, federal and other sources for capital projects and operating programs. The revenue comes from each of us as we pay fuel taxes (18.4 cents federal, 37.5 cents state), license fees, federal taxes, permit and other fees, tolls, ferry fares, vehicle sales tax, rental car taxes, and other miscellaneous sources.

The House supplemental transportation budget, House Bill 2762, would add $338 million in spending. There would be $268 million from reappropriations, $46.4 million from increased revenues and a $102.3 million reduction in expected debt service payments.

I voted against the House supplemental transportation budget primarily because it would raise the state funding level of $2.7 billion on the State Route 520 Bridge replacement to cover the WSDOT’s mistakes. Around $172 million in additional funds would be added on top of the $250 million risk reserve in the project. By now, you’ve probably heard of all the problems associated with this megaproject – including cost overruns, pontoon design failure and tolling delays. All of these failures were preventable and are unacceptable. We need more accountability at the WSDOT – and it starts at the top with our governor. The bottom line is the extra costs of megaprojects shouldn’t fall on taxpayers.

I hope you have a nice weekend. I’ll be in touch next week as the legislative session comes to a close.

In your service,

Dan Kristiansen
State Representative
39th Legislative District 

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

www.houserepublicans.wa.gov Capitol Buzz News Clips Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube Delicious 

02-28-14: E-mail update from Rep. Dan Kristiansen — Highlights from week seven of the legislative session

Rep. Dan Kristiansen

Dan Kristiansen Home    |   About Dan    |    Dan's Newsroom    |    Sponsored Bills    |    39th Legislative District Map

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Week seven of the 2014 legislative session will continue into tomorrow with the House Appropriations Committee meeting to take action on bills. This committee work will set the state House of Representatives up for a busy week eight – including action on the supplemental operating, capital and transportation budgets. Next week will include a lot of House floor action as state lawmakers look to get all of their work done by March 13. You can find the House schedule for next week here.  

Supplemental operating budget proposals

A lot has happened this week that I wanted to share with you. On Wednesday, House Democrats rolled out their supplemental operating budget. Summaries can be found here (official document from the nonpartisan Office of Program Research) and here (through the lens of House Democrats). On whole, I have some concerns with the proposal. However, once reconciled with the bipartisan Senate supplemental operating budget, I’m hoping the Legislature can arrive at a compromise that builds on the hard work of last year and properly funds the priorities of state government. A lot of work remains to be done. You can find a detailed account of the bipartisan Senate budget, which passed 41-8 yesterday, here. For a summary, click here.

One of the concerns I have with the House Democrats’ approach is they are proposing $100 million in new tax increases. I simply don’t support this idea. While the revenue from these new tax increases would be dedicated to K-12 education, they are not needed. If K-12 education is the top funding priority for our state, which I believe it is, then we should prioritize it and not tie it to a potentially unstable funding source that could be repealed. Our schools, teachers and students deserve a more prioritized, sustainable and transparent approach.   

Please also remember that state lawmakers prioritized K-12 education in the 2013-15 operating budget through a collaborative, bipartisan process that I was directly involved in last year. The Legislature took a big step forward for education last year, and I expect it will take another big step forward for our schools next year. But in a supplemental year like 2014, we only need to make minor, midcourse adjustments to our operating budget. Fortunately, many state lawmakers understand and agree with this position. 

A bipartisan plan to fund full-day kindergarten, K-3 class-size reduction

A bipartisan plan emerged on Wednesday that would allow for $700 million in bonds, backed by state Lottery revenue, for grants to school districts to construct classrooms for K-3 class-size reduction and full-day kindergarten. The grants would be based on need and administered by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Perhaps most importantly, school districts would not be required to pass a local levy to match the funding. In addition to helping our state move closer to its state Supreme Court McCleary obligations, House Bill 2797 would also create jobs. The measure passed out of the House Capital Budget Committee and now awaits House floor action. You can watch the news conference on the plan here

Video update: Addressing Obamacare/federal health care reform problems 

By now, you’ve probably heard of some of the problems with Obamacare/federal health care reforms in our state. For example, cancellation notices, website glitches, unanswered calls at the Exchange, and individuals and families losing network coverage – including Seattle Children's Hospital. These problems represent broken promises and Washingtonians deserve better. I talk about some of these problems and proposed solutions in my recent video update. You can find it here.

The homestretch of the legislative session

Only 13 days remain in the legislative session. I will keep you updated on the major issues as they develop and votes are taken. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or concerns.

Have a nice weekend.

In your service,

Dan Kristiansen
State Representative
39th Legislative District

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

www.houserepublicans.wa.gov Capitol Buzz News Clips Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube Delicious 

02-21-14: E-mail update from Rep. Dan Kristiansen — Two-thirds of the way through the legislative session

Rep. Dan Kristiansen

Dan Kristiansen Home    |   About Dan    |    Dan's Newsroom    |    Sponsored Bills    |    39th Legislative District Map

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It’s hard to believe we are already two-thirds of the way through the legislative session. Tuesday was house of origin cutoff, meaning bills needed to pass out of the House or Senate or they are considered “dead.” A complete list of bills that have passed both chambers can be found here. We also continue to update this shorter “dead or alive” list that breaks certain legislation down by House committees. For more information on individual bills, please visit this website, enter the four-digit bill number and click on “Search.” From there, you can comment on measures by clicking on, “Comment on this bill.”

Like the last half of this week, next week will include a lot of committee hearings in the House and Senate. You can find the House schedule here. Please know you are welcome to come to Olympia to testify on a bill or just listen in on committee hearings.

A constituent contacted me recently about a measure in the Senate that she opposed. I encouraged her to come testify on the legislation and share why it would hurt her small business. She came to the Capitol and testified against the bill. Her input provided me a different perspective on the issue and I appreciate it. This is a great example of how easy it is to get involved in your citizen Legislature.

Capitol Report Podcast 

Every two weeks, I participate in a Capitol Report Podcast to discuss current legislative issues. In my most recent podcast, I talked about deadlines in the Legislature, the transportation tax package, health care, and how the public can get involved. You can listen to it here.  

TVW interview 

I sat down with Anita Kissée, host of TVW’s The Impact, and House Democratic Majority Leader Pat Sullivan on Tuesday to talk about the legislative session. We discussed various issues, including cutoff, K-12 education funding, a transportation tax package and minimum wage. To watch the interview, please click here.

Profile piece in The Seattle Times

I’m not sure how many of you subscribe to The Seattle Times. If you do, you may have seen the profile piece they had on me on February 17. If not, you can find it here. I enjoyed talking to the reporter, but the photo shoot was a little awkward for me. Let’s just say modeling is not in my future. 
Representative Kristiansen with Page Jake LaSalle
Help around the House

One of my favorite parts of being a state representative is hosting House pages. I had an opportunity to sponsor Jake LaSalle (pictured right) as a House page during the third week of the legislative session. Jake is from Sedro-Woolley and attends Cascade Middle School. Learn more about his experience at the Legislature here.

Legislative pages play an important role in the efficient operation of the Legislature, including delivering messages and documents to state lawmakers in their offices, committee meetings and the House and Senate chambers. To learn more about the House Page Program, click here or feel free to contact me.

I hope you have a restful weekend. 

In your service,

Dan Kristiansen
State Representative
39th Legislative District

State Representative Dan Kristiansen
39th Legislative District

Web site: www.representativedankristiansen.com

335C Legislative Building - P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000

www.houserepublicans.wa.gov Capitol Buzz News Clips Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube Delicious 

02-14-14: E-mail update from Rep. Dan Kristiansen — The halfway point of the legislative session

Rep. Dan Kristiansen

Dan Kristiansen Home    |   About Dan    |    Dan's Newsroom    |    Sponsored Bills    |    39th Legislative District Map

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Tuesday represented the halfway point of the 60-day legislative session. This meant a lot of House floor action this week. Next Tuesday is house of origin cutoff, meaning that all of the bills that originate in the House and Senate must pass out of those respective chambers or they are considered “dead.” The exception to this rule are measures necessary to implement the state operating, capital and transportation budgets. But for the most part, the House will be considering Senate bills, and the Senate will be considering House bills, for the next few weeks.

It would be difficult to provide you an update on every piece of legislation in the state House of Representatives, but we have compiled a list of good bills and bad bills and where they stand in the legislative process. You can find this list here. This link will be updated, so you can check back later too.

Governor Inslee imposes a moratorium on the death penalty

In a surprise move Tuesday, Governor Inslee announced he would be imposing a moratorium on the death penalty in our state as long as he’s in office. To read the governor’s news release, visit this site. If you’d like to learn more about the convicted murderers who may benefit from the governor’s decision, click here.

I do not support the governor’s decision for a few reasons. First and foremost, it’s insensitive to the victims and their grieving families. I can’t even imagine what the family of Jayme Biendl must be feeling right now. The father of another victim, whose 12-year-old daughter was murdered, put things in perspective when he recently said: “His (Inslee) decision has prolonged my agony, not shortened it. It’s reopened a lot of wounds.” You can learn more here.

Secondly, and more close to home, I am worried the governor’s action will embolden inmates serving life sentences to harm our correctional officers because the threat of the death penalty does not hang over them. Thirdly, capital punishment is the law of our state. If the governor wants to change the law, he should work through the legislative process – including the public’s involvement. Finally, the governor’s announcement is a distraction from the issues people care about the most – jobs and the economy, K-12 education, health care, transportation, and responsible state spending. These are the issues I am focused on.   

Video update: What’s the latest on the transportation tax package?

Last week, I taped a video update that you can find here. In this video, I talk about the proposed transportation tax package, problems with the new Seattle tunnel and SR 520 Bridge replacement projects, and the need for reforms at the state Department of Transportation. Please consider watching it and providing your feedback. 

The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus unveiled its transportation tax package yesterday, which includes several reforms. They are encouraging the governor to take a leadership role in negotiations that have stalled since December. To learn more about their proposal, click here. You can also watch their news conference from yesterday here.

Telephone town hall results

I’d like to thank everyone who participated in my telephone town hall on February 6. We had more than 3,500 people participate in the community conversation. The questions and feedback were great and much appreciated. Rep. Elizabeth Scott and I asked two poll questions. You can read these poll questions and their results below:

If you could pick one issue that is most important to you – the one that impacts you the most – what issue would that be?

  • Jobs/the economy   19.5%
  • K-12 education   9.3%  
  • Health care   19.5%
  • State spending   26.3%
  • Transportation   9.3% 
  • Other   16.1% 

The state Supreme Court recently chastised the Legislature, saying lawmakers need to put more money into education and teacher salaries right away, despite the fact we spent over a billion dollars more in K-12 education in last year’s budget. Do you agree with the state Supreme Court’s ruling?

  • Yes   27.3%
  • No   59.7% 
  • Not sure   13% 

Feedback from last week’s e-mail update on health care

In my e-mail update last week, I shared my concerns about federal health care reform and what it’s doing to consumers in our state. I asked you to share some of your health insurance experiences with me. Below are a few responses I wanted to pass along to you:

  • “I am going to be 63 years old in June of this year. I lost all medical coverage at age 58 when the company that I had worked for 22 years went bankrupt. Did not acquire employment and took S.S. retirement at 62. My wife's and my combined monthly income is $2,200. According to the calculator for a subsidy my income is $500 over the poverty level to qualify. The least expensive (Bronze) plan is $498 a month with a $6,000 deductible. This is 25% of my income and puts me at the poverty level. Medicade is not an option as we have savings (that we used to live on up to when My S.S. went into effect ) that exceed the amount allowed (I don't think you're allowed any). So, there you have it: I will not be signing up and will have to pay the penalty for 2 years, until I qualify for Medicare and continue to be uninsured in the meantime. I am not a ‘happy camper’ where our current government is involved.”
  • “Here is my story or actually my 26 year-old-son's story. He works as a part-time firefighter and also works another part-time job to make ends meet for his family. Neither employer offers health insurance. Before the ACA, he could go out on the individual market and get at least something for around $130.00. However, his income did not support this expense with two children he supports. Since the ACA, he can go out there and spend $310 to get covered as he is in the “young and healthy” category. However, neither his income, nor family situation, has changed at all. He will still be uninsured but now faces the $95 penalty. This entire thing is a Ponzi scheme and our young people are smart enough to figure it out. I am just wondering now how those of us who work full-time and have the integrity to continue to work full-time, will be able to support those who will choose less income for a government-subsidized health care plan? Thank you for the time to listen. I know my family is not the only one struggling.”
  • “Of the 290,000 Washingtonians in the individual market who received those cancellation notices, how many were offered a new more expensive policy by their insurance carriers because of the mandates of coverage which are required to be in policies under Obamacare. For my family the comparable policy to what I had before rose in price by more than $300 per month.”
  • “You asked for personal experiences related to Obamacare & I wish to share my positive experiences on many fronts. 1. I now have better insurance at lower cost than previously and though I could have perhaps found even better options on the plan with perhaps a subsidy even, I chose instead to remain with my current individual plan provider but at lower cost with additional benefits and dental (that I did not have before) and the process on the exchange to select this plan was not a problem at all. I have no problem with the “cancellation of my less offerings/for more $” plan! 2. Each time I had a question I would make a phone call and get a response PAINLESSLY-no waiting, very helpful/knowledgeable staff and good follow-through when requested. 3. When there was an issue related to “plan implementation” (& what plan ever is perfect at orientation?), the issue was researched and resolved to my complete satisfaction. So, am I a fan? Absolutely!!” 

In your service,

Dan Kristiansen
State Representative
39th Legislative District

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

www.houserepublicans.wa.gov Capitol Buzz News Clips Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube Delicious 

02-07-14: E-mail update from Rep. Dan Kristiansen — Federal health care reform at the state level

Rep. Dan Kristiansen

Dan Kristiansen Home    |   About Dan    |    Dan's Newsroom    |    Sponsored Bills    |    39th Legislative District Map

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The Affordable Care Act is legislation that passed the United States’ Congress in 2010. Some know it as Obamacare. For the purpose of this e-mail update, we will just call it federal health care reform.

At the end of 2013, some major provisions of federal health care reform were implemented at the state level. One of those provisions are Exchanges. Exchanges are online marketplaces that allow people to compare and buy health insurance plans, and find out if they qualify for a government subsidy. Each state was given the option of creating their own Exchange. Only 14 states chose this option – including Washington state. Our state established the Washington Health Benefit Exchange through Senate Bill 5445 in 2011 and House Bill 2319 in 2012.

We’ve all heard about the problems with federal health care reform at the national level. Unfortunately, many of those problems are happening here in our state. For example, 290,000 Washingtonians in the individual market received cancellation notices. We have also seen website problems, tax-credit miscalculations, calls going unanswered at the Exchange customer-support center, and families losing important network coverage. Many individuals, families and small businesses are also experiencing sticker shock with new health care costs.

We are very much on the front end of implementing federal health care reform. It still has other major provisions that need to be determined. For example, the employer mandate. The employer mandate, which was delayed by the Obama Administration, will require businesses with 50+ full-time equivalent employees to offer government-approved health insurance plans to their employees or else pay new federal taxes. Employers still don’t know what the final rules for the employer mandate will be. In a fragile economy, you can imagine the uncertainty this is causing for many businesses in our state.  

Washington Health Benefit Exchange -- by the numbers

Who is signing up for our state’s Exchange? Here is a breakdown (as of January 9):

  • Of the 454,009 that have completed health insurance plan enrollments using the Exchange, 380,911 are Medicaid.
    • The federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost for this new population through 2016. In 2017, the state will begin paying a portion of the costs – 5 percent in 2017, 6 percent in 2018, 7 percent in 2019, and 10 percent in 2020 and beyond.
  • Of the 454,009 that have completed health insurance plan enrollments using the Exchange, only 73,098 are for non-Medicaid health insurance plans. It was estimated that 130,000 individuals would enroll in non-Medicaid health insurance plans by January 1, 2014.
  • Of the 73,098 non-Medicaid health insurance plans noted above:
    o    56,285 will receive a tax credit/subsidy (i.e. taxpayer-funded subsidy).
    o    Only 16,813 individuals have purchased a “full-price” health insurance plan on the Exchange.

Will projections match reality?

Aside from the affect federal health care reform will have on individuals, families and employers, these Exchange numbers worry me as a state lawmaker. When you look at the imbalance of people who will receive Medicaid or some other tax credit/subsidy, and people who will be paying “full-price” for their health insurance plans, I’m concerned about the immediate costs to our federal government and the future costs to our state government – beginning in 2017. One of the problems is that it does not appear that young people are signing up for our Exchange. If projections don’t end up matching reality, the system could collapse on top of itself. We will need to continue to monitor Exchange numbers carefully and react accordingly. 

Additional information

Please share your health insurance story with me

If you’ve had a negative experience with the new federal health care reform, or a positive one, please share your story with me. Feel free to e-mail me or call me.

In your service,

Dan Kristiansen
State Representative
39th Legislative District

State Representative Dan Kristiansen
39th Legislative District

Web site: www.representativedankristiansen.com

335C Legislative Building - P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000

www.houserepublicans.wa.gov Capitol Buzz News Clips Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube Delicious 

02-03-14: E-mail update from Rep. Dan Kristiansen – Property taxes

Rep. Dan Kristiansen

Dan Kristiansen Home    |   About Dan    |    Dan's Newsroom    |    Sponsored Bills    |    39th Legislative District Map

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Let’s talk about everyone’s favorite topic: property taxes! You’ll be receiving your property tax statements in the mail from your county treasurer this month, so I thought now would be a good time to discuss the issue.

Some of you have contacted me about your property tax problems. For example, in December of last year there were letters to the editor expressing concern about how the Snohomish County Treasurer cancelled its electronic payment system for property taxes and not all taxpayers were aware of the change. These people thought their bank accounts would be automatically charged for their property taxes. When this didn’t happen, some of them had to endure accumulated interest and penalties.

Last May, I also heard from a constituent who accidentally paid $20 short on a property tax bill. She received her check back with a penalty. In 25 years, she had never missed or accidentally paid the wrong amount for a property tax bill. 

These are fundamentally unfair situations. When honest, hard-working taxpayers try to do the right thing, they should not be punished financially. Any level of government, including local government, should be flexible enough to handle these situations and do the right thing.

House Bill 2309, which I support, would begin to provide some fairness and flexibility in the payment of property taxes. One aspect of the legislation is that it would allow a county treasurer to waive interest and penalties on delinquent property taxes when a taxpayer paid the incorrect amount of tax due to inadvertent error. This bill received a public hearing on January 23, but has not moved out of the House Finance Committee. You can watch the hearing here.

Property tax Q&A 

With the help of the state Department of Revenue’s website, I’ve created a short Q&A below that might answer some of your questions on property taxes.  

How is my property tax bill determined?

  • Your property tax bill is based on the assessed value of your property and the tax levy rate. The county assessor determines market value of all properties in the district as of January 1 and comes up with a taxable value which takes into account any exemptions or alternative valuation schedules. Taxing districts set their budget amounts (levies) and the assessor calculates the necessary tax rate. Dividing your property value by $1,000 and multiplying that by the tax rate determines your total property tax bill, which is collected by the county treasurer in the following year after the assessment.

What factors determine property tax rates?

  • Many factors determine property tax rates, the amount of property tax due on comparable properties will vary throughout a county. The three main factors that determine the tax rate include: various combinations of taxing districts in different areas of the county; budget amounts for each taxing district; and voter-approved special levies and bonds.

What if I do not agree with the assessed value of my property?

  • Contact your county assessor’s office. For a list of county assessors and treasurer websites, click here. If you are unable to reach an agreement, you may file an appeal with the county board of equalization in the county where the property is located.

Do I qualify for a property tax exemption, deferral or assistance of any kind?

How is my property tax money used?

  • Below is a pie chart of the breakdown of how property taxes are used. This chart is from the 2010 tax year. These figures may be higher or lower depending on where you live. Source: Homeowner’s Guide to Property Tax.

    image 

Video update 

I taped a three-minute video update in my office on January 23. I talked about the big issues this legislative session and how you can become involved in the process. You can find it here. As always, I welcome your feedback!

Final reminder: Telephone town hall this Thursday 
 

Just one last reminder: I will be hosting a telephone town hall meeting with Rep. Elizabeth Scott this Thursday, February 6, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The event will offer you an opportunity to ask us questions or just listen in on the community conversation. All you have do is call 1-800-759-5313. We hope to hear from you!

In your service,

Dan Kristiansen
State Representative
39th Legislative District

State Representative Dan Kristiansen
39th Legislative District

Web site: www.representativedankristiansen.com

335C Legislative Building - P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000

www.houserepublicans.wa.gov Capitol Buzz News Clips Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube Delicious 

01-24-14: E-mail update from Rep. Dan Kristiansen – K-12 education funding and our state Supreme Court

Rep. Dan Kristiansen

Dan Kristiansen Home    |   About Dan    |    Dan's Newsroom    |    Sponsored Bills    |    39th Legislative District Map

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

On January 9, the state Supreme Court issued an order that said the Legislature is not on target to hit a constitutionally-required K-12 education funding level by the 2017-18 school year. And in a controversial move, the court also ordered state lawmakers to submit a complete plan by April 30 to detail how the state will fully pay for basic education. Not everyone on the court agreed though. Justice Jim Johnson, in a dissent to order, said: “Put simply, the founders did not intend for this court to act in such a role and, more importantly, prohibited exercise of such self-granted power.” As you might expect, this altered the legislative landscape when state lawmakers arrived in Olympia four days later.

Important questions
 

State lawmakers have been contemplating some importation questions. First, were the new, large investments and reforms made in K-12 education in the 2013-15 operating budget sufficient enough to put the state on a path to meet the education funding level target by 2017? Second, in a supplemental budget year when normally only small adjustments are made to the operating budget, should large, additional investments be made in K-12 education and, if so, what? Finally, did our state Supreme Court cross that very important, constitutional separation of powers line with its recent order? 

Answers
 

In the most bipartisan operating budget in more than 20 years, the Legislature allocated $15.1 billion for K-12 education – representing a 11.4 percent increase in K-12 education spending and a 57 percent increase for early learning spending. Of this $1.6 billion increase from the previous two-year budget cycle, more than $1 billion was McCleary-related investments.

These spending enhancements include: $374 million for maintenance, supplies, and operating costs; $143 million for the Learning Assistance Program; $132 million for pupil transportation; $104 million for K-1 class-size reduction; $97 million for increased instructional hours grades 7-12; and $90 million for full-day kindergarten. As a result of this last investment, 270 schools will now provide full-day kindergarten classes. You can find a list of schools now offering full-day kindergarten due to these investments here.Rep Dan Kristiansen, Rep Elizabeth Scott, and Sen Kirk Pearson talk with students from Monroe Christian School.

Additional investments in K-12 education include:

  • $24 million for counselors and parent coordinators;
  • $19 million for bilingual education;
  • $15 million for the Teacher-Principal Evaluation Program; and
  • $10 million for struggling schools

I do think the state Supreme Court violated the constitutional separation of powers. I agree with what Justice Jim Johnson said above. It is the responsibility of the Legislature, not the court, to determine an adequate K-12 education spending level. This is what we were elected to do – to set policy and spending levels. I believe our state is on the right track for K-12 education spending, but more work needs to be done in the next budget cycle (2015 legislative session). We can’t do it all this year.

Reforms and solutions

State lawmakers should also be monitoring the important education reforms they put in place last year. For example: Senate Bill 5946, which will improve student outcomes and support teachers; Senate Bill 5329, which will bring more accountability to persistently-struggling schools; and House Bill 1642, which will support academic acceleration for high school students.

In its McCleary decision, the state Supreme Court said that simply adding more money to the current system is not sufficient for the Legislature to meet its constitutional duty. Simply put: It is not just about money, it is about reforms.

You can find some of the other education solutions I support in this video my colleagues recently put together.

Fund Education First | House Bill 1174

Since 2006, I have supported legislation called Fund Education First. The concept is simple: pass a separate K-12 education budget before any other state appropriations. Our state has separate operating, capital (construction) and transportation budgets – so why not a separate budget for Washington’s “paramount duty” according to our state constitution? By passing a separate, K-12 education budget first, we would ensure it is properly funded each budget cycle. We would also keep our students out of the on-going debate of whether new tax increases are needed. This is not to say that other parts of state government aren’t important – they are. Fund Education First would elevate K-12 education to the state’s top priority.

In 2012, this legislation received a committee hearing. You can watch one of my colleagues, former Rep. Bruce Dammeier, testify in favor of the bill here. Education advocates signed in for support of the measure, including the Washington Education Association and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Unfortunately, despite its bipartisan support, including the chairwoman of the committee, it was not allowed to move forward. It has not received a hearing since.

Higher education

The 2013-15 operating budget didn’t just benefit K-12 education – it made critical investments in our public colleges and universities. Most importantly, it stopped a 27-year trend of tuition increases for students. The budget also increased higher education spending by 12 percent, including an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) degrees and the preservation of the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program.

Telephone town hall | February 6

Rep. Elizabeth Scott (pictured above) and I will be holding a telephone town hall on Thursday, February 6, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Much like a call-in radio show, this platform allows you to ask us questions and get updates on the legislative session. Simply call 1-800-759-5313 and listen in to the community conversation from the comfort of your living room.  

Events at the Capitol

It seems like every day during the legislative session there is a group visiting the Capitol. It is always fun to see people, especially children, lining the hallways and steps of our Capitol. Please know you are always welcome to come visit me in Olympia. For a current list of Capitol Campus activities and events, click here. MC900341788[1]

Mail bag 

I want to hear from you. Please consider sending me a question to my online mailbag at dan.kristiansen@leg.wa.gov. Each week during the legislative session, I’ll take a question and share the answer with everyone. I’ll also try to answer some questions on my video updates.  

Have a great weekend.

In your service,

Dan Kristiansen
State Representative
39th Legislative District 

State Representative Dan Kristiansen
39th Legislative District

Web site: www.representativedankristiansen.com

335C Legislative Building - P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000

www.houserepublicans.wa.gov Capitol Buzz News Clips Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube Delicious