It's really a busy time in the state Legislature this week. Here's a quick look at activities:
Today is the policy cutoff for bills. Policy bills that have not passed from their respective committees by the end of today are considered “dead” for the session. There are certain exceptions, especially with legislation that is necessary to implement the budget. Of course, a dead bill could always be “resurrected” with enough support. Click here for a great explanation of the legislative cutoff process.
Action items – House bills 1943 and 1918
House Bill 1943 – Electronic home monitoring
The House Public Safety Committee is scheduled to vote today on House Bill 1943, which would tighten requirements for the state's electronic home monitoring program for criminals. I urge you to contact your legislators at 1-800-562-6000 and ask them to support this accountability measure. I testified in favor of the bill Monday and then discussed the details of the bill on my Legislative Update video. You can watch that video here.
House Bill 1918 – Modifying provisions of off-road and all-terrain vehicles
The House Transportation Committee is scheduled to take action on Tuesday on House Bill 1918. This is a bill I've introduced that makes improvements to the ATV-ORV measure we passed in 2013, including liability exemptions for search and rescue personnel, ensuring reciprocity with Idaho, and streamlining issuance of licensing and titles. Contact Chair Rep. Judy Clibborn and ask for action on House Bill 1918.
Listen to my radio interviews
- Showcasing ridiculous global warming claims on the Michael Howe Show – On Tuesday, I was on the Mike Howe Radio Show talking about the governor's cap-and-tax carbon bill and how supporters are now saying that global warming is a contributing cause of the “Arab Spring,” which is a revolutionary wave in the Middle East of demonstrations, protests, riots and civil wars — many of which involve terrorism. These are among ridiculous claims being made in the Environment Committee where I serve as ranking Republican. You can click here to watch and listen to these claims during the testimony of House Joint Memorial 4009 near the end of the committee meeting. You can listen to the Mike Howe Radio Show here.
Discussing Inslee's “cap and tax” bill on The Freedom Report Radio program
- I was also a guest on the Freedom Foundation's radio program with host Scott Roberts. We debunk the governor's claims about climate change and discuss his $1 billion carbon tax proposal that would cost jobs and hurt working families in Washington state. You can listen to that program here.
Standing my ground to protect your freedoms
On Wednesday, the Inlander wrote a story about my fight against the state's new gun background check law that was passed in November through Initiative 594. You can read it here. The headline was “Won't back down.” While that may have been intended as a criticism against me and other gun rights supporters, I wear that moniker as a badge of honor. Whenever it comes to government usurping our God-given constitutional rights, including the right to keep and bear arms, I will NOT back down nor will I compromise in the fight to protect your freedoms.
Bad bill – House Bill 1857– Creating an “extreme risk protective order”
Among the considerations of granting this newly-created order under House Bill 1856 is whether a person has recently purchased ammunition or firearms. I believe it is outrageous to consider someone violent just because he or she has purchased a gun and/or ammunition. This is just another assault on citizens' rights to keep and bear arms. Plenty of protection orders already exist. This one is not needed.
The Freedom Agenda – The most successful slate of conservative legislation
To date, we have had nearly 30 hearings on Freedom Agenda bills in the Washington Legislature. I am pleased to report the successes of these following prime-sponsored bills:
- House Bill 1248 – Increasing jurisdictional limits to $100,000 for district courts: Passed the House 78-19.
- House Bill 1918 – Modifying provisions of off-road and all-terrain vehicles: Public hearing held Feb. 11. Executive action scheduled for Feb. 24.
- House Bill 1552 – Legalizing industrial hemp: Passed House Commerce and Gaming Committee; Public hearing scheduled Feb. 24 in House Appropriations Committee.
- House Bill 1858 – Prohibiting county auditor's names on ballot envelopes when running for re-election: Awaiting House floor action.
- House Bill 1943 – Accountability in electronic home monitoring: Public hearing held Feb. 16. Scheduled for action today in House Public Safety Committee.
Unfortunately, my prediction about homosexual weddings came true and now a grandmother must pay the state
Three years ago, when the House passed the gay marriage bill, I made this prediction: “I am very concerned that this legislation tramples on the state's constitutional rights of religious conscience. While the bill has been amended to provide narrow exemptions for religious organizations that do not choose to be involved in same-sex ceremonies, it contains nothing to provide the same protections for private businesses that refuse service for these ceremonies on the grounds of religious conscience. That invites massive new lawsuits against photographers, bakers and decorators, tuxedo and wedding dress stores, hotels, caterers and others involved in the wedding industry.”
Less than a year later, Barronelle Stutzman, a grandmother, a devout Southern Baptist and the owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, was hauled into court and charged with violating the law when she refused to provide flowers to a same-sex couple for their wedding. She cited refusal on the grounds of religious belief.
Earlier this week, the Benton County Superior Court ruled against her, saying she violated the state's Consumer Protection Act. The ruling alone is very disturbing and I believe goes against Article 1, Section 11 of the Washington State Constitution, which says 'absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship, shall be guaranteed to every individual.' However, what is worse is the response by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson who wrote, “I will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. My office wrote to Ms. Stutzman, asking her to comply. Had she agreed to no longer discriminate, my office would not have filed suit, and Ms. Stutzman would not have paid any costs, fees or penalties.”
I find this statement an outrage. It says that you must place the state above your right of religious conscience, or the attorney general will come after you with the full force of his office. I find it shameful and offensive that the state of Washington would target a 70-year-old grandmother because of her religious belief. That's one of the reasons I fought so hard against this legislation when it came to the House floor in 2012.
Your input and involvement help to protect our liberties
Six weeks into the scheduled 105-day session, it is because of your phone calls, letters, e-mails, personal visits to the state Capitol, and your involvement, which are making a difference and keeping freedom alive! Please keep it up! Together, we will ensure a society of lower taxes, less government and more freedom! Contact my office any time you have questions, comments or suggestions about legislation and how you can help to further the cause of liberty.