There's a culture of failure in state government under Gov. Jay Inslee's administration that is finally coming to a head.
WSDOT SECRETARY FIRED
Senate Republicans recently acted to reject the gubernatorial appointment of Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Secretary Lynn Peterson, removing her from the job she held since shortly after Inslee took office in 2013. In that time, there have been many high-profile failures of projects overseen by WSDOT, costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
DOC CHIEF RESIGNS
For 13 years, the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) has been releasing prisoners early because of a computer glitch — 3,700 of them in fact — and there are two deaths associated with these early releases. Upper management knew about the problem since 2012, but did nothing. Senate Republicans, led by my seatmate, Sen. Mike Padden, began an investigation. On Feb. 6, just a day after Peterson was ousted, DOC Secretary Dan Pacholke resigned.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION GOES ROGUE
It doesn't stop here. The Human Rights Commission, which ruled in December transgendered individuals can use bathrooms and shower rooms of their choice, are all appointees of Gov. Inslee. The commission failed to post the rules online as required by law and I pointed it out to them. “We will not stop until we have it thrown out,” I told a group of people on the Capitol steps this morning about the new rules.
STATE HEALTH CARE DATA BREACH
The latest news is that 91,000 Medicaid clients are victims of a data breach from the Washington Health Care Authority, an agency also under Inslee's administration. My work to increase data security in state government has continued to be met with resistance — and now we are seeing the result of bureaucrats trying to protect themselves while leaving all of us exposed.
It's a pattern of failure. And it's nothing new. I've pointed this out in many of my past e-newsletters.
If the governor wants to point fingers, he should find a mirror. Government needs to be accountable to the people it serves. I applaud those who are trying to clean up state government, including Sen. Padden. Failure of accountability should not be an option when it comes to your safety, security and your tax dollars.
I encourage you to read on for other legislative and Freedom Agenda news from the Capitol.
MORE THAN HALFWAY TO THE FINISH LINE
Last Tuesday, Feb. 9 was the halfway point of the scheduled 60-day session. For the past week, we've been in the House chambers considering bills that won committee approval. House bills must have passed out of the House by this Wednesday or they are considered “dead.” Of course, any bill can be “resurrected” at any time.
SHEA BILLS PASS HOUSE
Thanks to your support, many of our Freedom Agenda bills are either law or on their way to becoming law. Here's a quick list of our successes:
Passed in the 2015 Legislative Session
- (NOW LAW) House Bill 1817 – Providing liability immunity for local jurisdictions when wheeled all-terrain vehicles are operated on public roadways.
- (NOW LAW) House Bill 1943 – Concerning Electronic Home Monitoring.
Passed the House of Representatives – 2016 Legislative Session
- House Bill 1248 – Modifies court proceeding provisions relating to civil jurisdiction, jurisdictional limit of district courts, mandatory arbitration of civil actions, and adjudication claim filing fee.
- House Bill 1918 – Modifying provisions applicable to off-road, non-highway, and wheeled all-terrain vehicles and their drivers.
- House Bill 1858 – Prohibiting the names of county auditors and the secretary of state from being included on ballot envelopes and in voters' pamphlets when running for re-election.
- House Bill 2785 – Ensuring that restrictions on the use of solid fuel burning devices (woodstoves) does not prohibit the installation or use of woodstoves during temporary outages of other sources of heat.
Passed committee – Awaiting House floor action – 2016 Legislative Session
- House Bill 2261 – Protecting utility customers by modifying the authority of utilities to back-bill customers for charges missed due to utility error.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR FOR A 4TH DISTRICT TELEPHONE TOWN HALL
Please join me and my seatmates, Rep. Bob McCaslin and Sen. Mike Padden for a telephone town hall on Wednesday, Feb. 24. Call us from between 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. at (509) 703-4657. You may also listen online at: listen.townhallinteractive.com. Enter PIN 375366 on the website. We will provide a legislative update and take your questions. Please mark your calendar. We look forward to your call!
ACTION BILL: 'Rachel's Law' stalls in committee, but you can help to move it forward
Last March, Rachel Meyers, an 18-year-old woman from Spokane, died of a heroin overdose. That is tragic enough. But the real tragedy is that it could have been prevented by a very simple law.
Rachel's father, Scott Meyers, tried repeatedly to get help for his daughter's drug addiction. He had her hospitalized for treatment, but she left, and the hospital couldn't stop her from leaving because she is over the age of 13.
In Washington, there is no involuntary commitment law for people suffering from chemical dependency. Once a child reaches the age of 13, a parent no longer has the ability to provide consent for involuntary treatment of that child in Washington. To be treated involuntarily, a mental health specialist would have to declare the individual an immediate danger to himself/herself or others.
Last month, I introduced “Rachel's Law” — House Bill 2958, which would give a parent or guardian the authority to admit and keep a minor child into a chemical dependency treatment facility for up to 14 days. The measure was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, but a public hearing was denied by the committee chair, effectively stalling the bill.
I haven't given up. This is about saving young lives, and if this bill had been in place, Rachel would probably be alive.
Please email Rep. Laurie Jinkins, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, or leave a message for her on the toll-free Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000. Ask her to schedule a hearing on House Bill 2958 and move it out of committee. We need to act now to prevent another family from this tragedy.
AMENDMENT ACCEPTED PREVENTING TRANSPORTATION TASK FORCE FROM CONSIDERING PER-MILE CHARGES
I am proud to report that the House Transportation Committee accepted my amendment to House Bill 2956 that would prevent a transportation task force from considering or performing any work related to “a road usage charge, vehicle miles traveled, or any other mileage-based fee.”
In addition to collecting your gas taxes, the Seattle/West side liberals are clamoring to enact a mileage-based fee. Under this concept, the state would charge you for every mile you drive. It's not so bad if you live on Mercer Island and travel five or six miles everyday to work in Seattle. It's horrible if you live in Eastern Washington and must travel across vast distances to see a doctor, get groceries or even gas. My amendment is one small way to stop Democrats from gouging your pocketbook.
BAD GUN BILLS DEAD
Thanks to the outpouring of support for our second amendment rights, we were able to successfully defend against some very bad bills that would have restricted, and in some cases, prevented the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.
Here's a quick list of five very destructive gun-control bills you helped us to kill:
- House Bill 1747 – Would create the crime of child endangerment due to unsafe storage of a firearm.
- House Bill 2461 – Would establish extreme risk protection orders to temporarily prevent an individual from possessing, accessing, or purchasing firearms while that individual poses a significant danger of harm.
- House Bill 2372 – Would allow for the destruction of forfeited firearms.
- House Bill 2460 – Authorizes cities, towns, counties, and other municipalities to restrict the possession of firearms in any designated public park space, recreational facilities, libraries and on any mode of public transportation and transit facilities.
- House Bill 2738 – Requiring permission to bring a concealed firearm into another person's residence or dwelling place.
All of the above bills died in the House Judiciary Committee.