Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Only 20 days remain of the scheduled 60-day legislative session. For the past two weeks, we have been working late and long hours on the floor, debating hundreds of bills. This includes passing good, bipartisan bills and working to stop bills that would be bad for the state and our district.
House of origin floor cutoff
Wednesday at 5 p.m. was the house of origin floor cutoff. That means bills must be passed out of the body where they were introduced, or they are considered “dead” for the session. Bills necessary to implement the budget are exempt from the cutoff dates. To date, the House has passed 318 bills this session. Nearly as many, 267, has been passed to the House from the Senate.
Caldier bills clear House, move to the Senate
Three of my bills passed the House with unanimous, bipartisan support. They include:
- House Bill 2580 – Reporting on independent living services. The state provided $248,797 to an independent living contractor in Kitsap County to help foster youth, yet there are no reports, documentation or proof that actual services were provided. This measure would increase accountability of services provided to ensure they are actually delivered to foster youth.
- House Bill 2584 – Establishing rates for behavioral health services. We gave funding in the budget to increase provider rates so that Medicaid patients could access behavioral health services. Unfortunately, the Managed Care Organizations kept the additional funds and did not pass that on to providers. This measure would provide yearly reviews to ensure Medicaid patients get the services they need. I serve on the Children's Mental Health Workgroup and this legislation was one of its priorities. Read The News Tribune article: “Caldier bill would make insurers pass along raises for mental health care providers.”
- House Bill 2809 – Regarding essential needs and housing support eligibility. This bill will improve access for struggling pregnant women to receive services.
For more information on other bills I've sponsored, go here.
A $2.4 billion surplus — and tax relief
On Wednesday, the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released its quarterly report showing Washington state government is expected to collect an additional $1.1 billion over the next three years. In total, that means the state budget surplus is now topping $2.4 billion. I think some of that money should be returned to taxpayers.
I have signed onto legislation that would provide $1 billion in tax relief by lowering car tab fees to $30 (just as voters wanted through passage of Initiative 976). The measure also exempts sales tax from processed food.
Many of us are also receiving our property tax bills for the year — and OUCH! Sticker shock! South Kitsap residents received a $1 per $1,000 assessed value increase due to the levy lid lift passed last year that I did not support.
I'm looking into ways that we could use some of this surplus to provide meaningful property tax relief.
Join me tomorrow (Saturday), Feb. 22 for 26th District town hall meetings
As we near the final two weeks of the legislative session, it's important for me to hear from you and get an update on your ideas, suggestions and concerns about legislation and state government. I have scheduled three town hall meetings in locations throughout the 26th District for tomorrow. I hope you will join me!
SATURDAY, FEB. 22
- 10 a.m. – Key Peninsula Civic Center – 17010 S. Vaughn Rd., N.W., Vaughn
- 1 p.m. – Gig Harbor City Hall – 3510 Grandview St., Gig Harbor
- 4 p.m. – Kitsap County Commissioner's Office, 619 Division St., Port Orchard
For more information, call or email my office. My contact information is below.
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to proudly serve you and the 26th District!