It has been a very busy time in the state Legislature since the 2015 session opened on Jan. 12. We have had several major successes in recent days since session began. I wanted to take a few moments to provide a quick Freedom Agenda update. So far, we have had 15 public hearings scheduled on our Freedom Agenda bills.
Thank you for standing with us to ensure LOWER TAXES, LESS GOVERNMENT and MORE FREEDOM. And thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve and represent you in the state Legislature.
WSDOT backs off Highway 2 median project after meeting with Reps. Matt Shea and Jeff Holy
I became inundated with calls from irate constituents after The Spokesman-Review printed an article on Dec. 29 that said the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) was considering adding a roundabout and raised islands in the median on U.S. Highway 2 between Mt. Spokane Park Drive north to Day-Mt. Spokane Road. Retailers and business owners along that route are very concerned the raised islands would prevent access to their properties and send business elsewhere.
Rep. Jeff Holy and I set up a meeting with WSDOT and told them the $5 million plan, including a $3.7 million roundabout in the middle of the highway is unacceptable. The result of that meeting is that WSDOT has agreed to change the median design to allow access for businesses and they are “rethinking” the roundabout.
March for Life draws thousands to the state Capitol
It was my honor to speak for the unborn last week on the steps of the state Capitol during the annual March for Life Rally in Olympia. It was a record crowd who came to stand up for those innocent unborn children. I told the crowd: “The right to life cannot be voted away by a majority. It can't be taken away by a legislator. It can't be taken away by the courts. It was given to us by God!” You can watch my speech here at the 25:26 minute mark.
Drone bill held for possible veto override
You may remember last April that Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed House Bill 2789, the so-called “drone bill” I co-sponsored along with Rep. David Taylor that would have placed privacy protections around the use of unmanned surveillance aircraft by state agencies. This bipartisan bill, with six Republican and five Democrat co-sponsors, passed the House, 77-21, and the Senate, 46-1. The governor said there are too many conflicting provisions on the “disclosure and destruction” of personal information collected by the drones, which is why he said he vetoed it. But even one of the Democrat co-sponsors expressed disappointment, saying the governor vetoed a “well-worked, forward-looking” bill that was intended to “protect citizens from being spied on by their government without legal approval.”
Last week, on the opening day of session, the House received the governor's veto message, but Democrat House Speaker Frank Chopp held the message at the rostrum and did not have it read into the record. This action keeps open the option for the House to override the governor's veto, if it has enough votes, which would be a great victory for those of us who value our freedom of privacy against government surveillance and intrusion.
State of the Judiciary speech cancelled
I was pleased the House and Senate decided this year to cancel the biennial State of the Judiciary address by the Washington Supreme Court's chief justice.
Frequently, the chief justice will use that time to implore the Legislature for more money for the courts. In light of the state Supreme Court telling the Legislature that it needs to direct financial resources to K-12 education or be in contempt of the high court, many of us felt that it would be a major conflict of interest for the chief justice to address the Legislature about its own needs. When the state Supreme Court can begin to respect the separation of powers between itself and the Legislature and stick to its role of interpreting the constitution instead of directing appropriations, maybe we will resume the traditional speech. However, I see this as a victory and a strong message to the justices that they have their duties and we have ours – and those lines should not cross.
TVW's Inside Olympia with Austin Jenkins features The Freedom Agenda
The Freedom Agenda, which is the most successful slate of conservative legislation in Washington state in 20 years, is gaining attention all across our state of Washington and beyond its borders. Last week, Rep. David Taylor and I were asked to appear on TVW's Inside Olympia with Austin Jenkins to talk about The Freedom Agenda. You can watch that interview here.
Watch my Legislative Video Update
Every two weeks during the legislative session, I sit down in front of a video camera to provide a Legislative Update that is sent to our cable channels in the Spokane area. However, you don't have to wait to watch. I also have the video uploaded to YouTube. You can watch my first video of 2015 here.
My interview with KXLY's Rick Rydell
Frequently, I am a guest on the Rick Rydell Show on KXLY Radio. Rick had me on the program on Thursday, Jan. 15. We talked about my involvement that morning with the pro-gun rally on the steps of the Capitol and my paraphrased quote of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonia Scalia who said that an unconstitutional law is no law at all. The intent of Initiative 594 was to impair the right to bear arms in clear violation of Article 1, Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution which says: “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired.” You can listen to my interview with Rick Rydell here.