Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The short, 60-day session is underway, with that fast-paced sprint feeling. I want to provide you an update on some of the bills I am working on this session, including some coming from constituents.
The focus of House Republicans this session is safety, affordability and accountability. We want to make sure you feel safe in your home and community. while making sure government lives within its means. This session an income tax, capital gains tax and vehicle-miles-traveled tax could be considered. Despite a strong economy, the affordability of living in Washington is becoming an issue – the cost of owning a home, a college education, child care, as well as transportation and energy costs.
Finally, let's make government accountable to the people of Washington state – eliminate title-only bills and respect the will of the voters (I-976) by addressing transportation revenue shortfalls with existing revenue.
Many of the bills I am working on tie into these priorities.
The cost of a college education continues to be a concern for Washington students and families. Last year, working with college students in Whatcom County and around the state, I introduced House Bill 1702. It would begin to address the soaring cost of textbooks over the last 20 years. The bill requires community and technical colleges to let students know whether “low-cost” materials are available during registration. In addition to notifying students if low-cost textbooks are available, they will also be notified when free online textbooks are used in college courses.
The bill passed the House unanimously last year, but did not make it out of the Senate. I am hopeful the House will be sending it back to the Senate soon for their consideration this year.
I am also pushing House Bill 1701, essentially the same bill but it would pertain to our four-year state universities.
Expanding the College in High School program
I credit the dad of a local high school student for this legislation. House Bill 2233 would expand the College in the High School program to students eligible in the ninth grade. This bill is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Education Committee.
I introduced House Bill 2483, or Hailey's Law, last week.
Hailey (French) Huntley's car was struck by a drunk driver in January 2007 on the Mount Baker Highway in our county. Huntley was severely injured and spent 45 days in Harborview Medical Center.
The driver of the other vehicle, Janine Parker, had just hours before been pulled over by a state trooper and cited for a DUI. Her car was not impounded when she was cited, and it was left on the side of the road. Due to jail overcrowding, she was not booked, and the trooper drove her home. However, when Parker got home, she called a taxi to take her back so she could retrieve her vehicle. She was still intoxicated when she crashed into Huntley's car.
In 2011, “Hailey's Law” was passed, which placed a mandatory seizure and 12-hour impound on any vehicle driven by a person arrested for DUI. The idea was to ensure a driver would be sober before being able to access the vehicle.
Unfortunately, the law was appealed following a DUI stop in January 2018 in Quincy. The lawyer for the defendant said the seizure of the car was unconstitutional because it did not meet lawful requirements and could have been released to one of his sober passengers, and the state Supreme Court unanimously agreed.
I have drafted legislation to address the court ruling. My bill would allow an officer to direct the impoundment of a vehicle when no reasonable alternatives exist. My bill reiterates that if the officer determines impounding the vehicle is necessary for the protection of the public, the vehicle must be impounded for a minimum of 12 hours. We must restore common sense on this important issue.
Protecting our youth from sex offenders
I am very concerned about the state's preemption of local regulations relating to where sex offenders are able to reside. House Bill 2670 would remove the state's preemption and allow local governments to put their own rules and regulations in place. This could lead to local governments going back to larger and safer boundaries around schools, parks and other places our youth frequent. We must keep our youth safe.
Sunshine committee recommendations
House Bill 2484 comes from the Public Records Exemptions Accountability Committee, or Sunshine Committee, on which I serve. The bill would protect private information of child victims from disclosure. This is a result of the committee's review of the public records system. It would help prevent these young victims from potentially suffering more harm. Sadly, there have been several recent cases where the victims were sought out by their perpetrators. I am pleased to have the support of Byron Manering, of Brigid Collins Family Support Center, on this bill.
Lemonade stands legal in Washington
Young lemonade stand operators will not need to get a permit or pay a fee, if I have any say about it. I have drafted House Bill 2232 that would prevent cities and counties from adopting any rules that prohibit or regulate “the occasional sale of lemonade or other nonalcoholic beverages from a stand on private property by any person under the age of eighteen years.” It is sad it has come to this in our state, but I am happy to help out our young business people. Check out last week's story on KXLY “Washington House bill looks to prevent children's lemonade stands from being shut down.”
House Bill 2146 would withdraw Washington state from the interstate compact to elect the president by national popular vote. Assigning presidential electors based on the national popular vote will result in presidential candidates campaigning in the most populous states, while ignoring the voice of the voters in less populated states. The national popular vote is an attempt to go around the United States Constitution, and it effectively abolishes the electoral college for partisan purposes.
I introduced this bill late in the session last year. I am hoping to have more dialogue around the issue this session.
Follow the Legislature during the session. Below are a few helpful links that can keep you informed and updated on what is happening in Olympia.
- My legislative website: You will find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, videos, opinion pieces, bills, and other information.
- The Washington State Ledger: It is a legislative news aggregator administered by state House Republicans. It is a great source for information related to state government, public policy and the legislative process. Check it out!
- The Current: An online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans.
- TVW: The state's own version of C-SPAN, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
If you have any questions, thoughts or concerns or if you are going to be in Olympia, please don't hesitate to send me an email at email@example.com or call my office at (360) 786-7980. I look forward to hearing from you!
Luanne Van Werven