It's been a busy week at the state Capitol and we've made progress in my goals to ensure less taxes, less government and more freedom! So here's a quick update on this week's issues.
HOUSE APPROVES USE OF LEGALLY-REGISTERED FIREARM NOISE SUPPRESSORS
State law allows people to OWN firearm noise suppressors that are legally registered and possessed under federal law. Unfortunately, state law does not allow people to USE firearm noise suppressors. That makes no sense.
I co-sponsored House Bill 1016 to correct this oddity in the law. I'm pleased to report the House of Representatives approved this measure on Monday by a vote of 88-4. Under this bill, if you legally own a firearm noise suppressor, you'll be able to use it.
Noise suppressors are beneficial in several ways. They help to prevent hearing loss for hunters and sportsmen. They prevent disturbances in residential areas where there are gun ranges. Plus, they allow law enforcement to train at night on ranges without disturbing surrounding neighborhoods.
For those concerned about the criminal element, this bill would have no impact on access. Everyone looking to obtain a noise suppressor has to go through a thorough background check, obtain a law enforcement certification, and make a $200 transfer tax payment. This bill does not change the difficulty in obtaining a noise suppressor. It only makes it legal to use one if it is lawfully possessed.
EMINENT DOMAIN REPURCHASE BILL GAINS COMMITTEE APPROVAL
If you own land that is acquired through eminent domain condemnation by the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT), I believe you should have the first right of repurchase if WSDOT later declares that land surplus and puts it up for sale.
That's what House Bill 1441 would do. This is a measure I authored to ensure fairness in the eminent domain process.
I believe eminent domain should always be a method of last resort. Government should never use it to prosper at the expense of property owners. You shouldn't have to compete against other bidders for your former property if it was taken from you and put up for sale by WSDOT.
The House Transportation Committee has agreed with me on this issue. The committee passed the bill earlier this week. It's been sent to the House Rules Committee for further consideration.
LOWERING COSTS FOR EMPLOYERS SO THEY CAN CREATE JOBS
As a member of the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee, I was involved in negotiations on a bill that addresses our state's high unemployment insurance rates. Recently, these rates have skyrocketed, making it difficult for employers to maintain resources necessary to keep and create jobs.
On Wednesday, we reached a compromise agreement on House Bill 1091 and passed it from the House. This measure would reduce unemployment insurance rates on the average of 30 percent, saving employers about $300 million. The tax rate reductions are permanent and the measure provides for additional worker training benefits. This will get Washington working again. The bill has been sent to the Senate for further consideration.
COMMITTEE CHAIR REFUSES HEARING ON PARENTAL NOTIFICATION BILL
Many thanks to those of you who responded earlier this week to my “bill alert,” which asked for your help in urging the chair of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee to reconsider and hold a hearing on House Bill 1442.
This is a measure I sponsored that would require parents to be notified in advance of their minor child undergoing an abortion. I believe it is a matter of safety for our children.
The chair refused my request for a public hearing, stating to our ranking Republican on the committee that she believes girls over the age of 14 who become pregnant are considered “emancipated – independent.” I respectfully disagree and I think it is shameful the public is not given the right to testify on this issue.
If you would like to get involved in this issue, please read my earlier e-mail here.
LOCAL TEEN SERVES AS PAGE
I want to thank Andrew Matheison of Greenacres for helping this week as a legislative page in the House of Representatives. Andrew is an 8th grade student at Valley Christian School in Spokane Valley. As a page, his duties included delivering messages and bills to lawmakers' offices and to the House floor. He also spent time in the Legislative Page School learning about state government.
Andrew is the 14-year-old son of Ken and Brenda Matheison. He is pictured at right.
I also appreciate the service of Alex Burrington of Spokane, who also recently served as a page. Click here to read more about Alex and to see his photo.
For more information on the House Page Program, go to: http://www.leg.wa.gov/House/Pages/HousePageProgram.aspx
Our citizen Legislature works best whe
n you are involved. Below are two upcoming public hearings and executive actions scheduled for next week on bills I've co-sponsored. I welcome your comments on this legislation and your involvement. Click on the links to get more information on these measures. If you wish to testify, call my office for more information at (360) 786-7984. We'll be glad to help facilitate your visit.
State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee
John L. O'Brien Building – Hearing Room E
Feb. 14, 2011 – 1:30 p.m.
HB 1341 – Would require adoption of certain rules to be made before Dec. 1 of any year, and provides that the rules may not take effect before the end of the regular legislative session in the next year. (This would give the Legislature time to review the rules.) It would also require rules to contain the signature of the governor. (Co-sponsored by Rep. Matt Shea.)
Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee
John L. O'Brien Building – Hearing Room A
Feb. 16, 2011 – 1:30 p.m.
HB 1109 – Would require the Legislature to approve or reject the Department of Fish and Wildlife's recommended final environmental impact statement and the gray wolf conservation and management plan as a whole. (Co-sponsored by Rep. Matt Shea.)
HB 1110 – Would require the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Parks and Recreation Commission to coordinate with all applicable affected local government officials during the development, revision, and implementation of any public land use plan under the control or authority of the department or the commission, as applicable. (Co-sponsored by Rep. Matt Shea.)
I urge you to stay informed and become active. Go to my Web site at houserepublicans.wa.gov/Shea for more information. From there, you can e-mail me, read my news releases and newsletters, and find out about current legislation. I also invite you to contact my office any time you have questions, comments or ideas. My phone number is (360) 786-7984.