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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This past Wednesday at 5 p.m. was the Legislature's house of origin cutoff. Bills that have not passed out of the chamber where they originated are considered “dead” for the session. Only bills that are necessary to implement the budget are exempt from the deadline. Although, it's commonly known that any bill can be “resurrected” between now and the end of the 2023 session on April 23.
Working up to that deadline, we spent long hours on the House floor, working into the early morning and over a weekend, debating and voting on bills. At the end of the deadline, 329 bills were passed through the House, including 77 prime sponsored by House Republicans. Two of my prime-sponsored bills also passed the House with a unanimous vote. You can read more about those bills below.
Join me and Rep. Joe Schmick this evening for a telephone town hall
Rep. Joe Schmick and I will be holding a telephone town hall this evening from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. to hear from you and to provide a legislative update. This will be our first telephone town hall together since February 2018, partially because of the COVID shutdown at the Capitol the past three years. We have conducted “Zoom” town halls, but tonight, we are doing it on the telephone. We are looking forward to your questions and talking with folks across the 9th Legislative District, including the new parts of the district.
An automated call will go out just a few minutes before the event to landlines in the district. If you do not have a landline or you wish to make sure to participate, you may call into the event, beginning at 5:45 p.m. The number is (509) 841-0315. That line will be open for calls throughout the program.
Please join us tonight. I hope to visit with you on our program.
Read more about tonight's event here.
After seven years of work, House gives unanimous approval to aerial fire suppression bill
It was the second to the last bill to be considered by the House before the Wednesday, 5 p.m. deadline, and I'm grateful many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle worked to ensure this bill got out of the House in time. I'm talking about House Bill 1498, the so-called “Aviation Assurance Funding” bill.
This is a measure I've sponsored and introduced for the past seven years. It would allow local fire departments who use aviation suppression efforts on the initial attack of brush, timber and grass fires to be reimbursed by the state for those expenses.
The concept comes from Asotin County Fire District 1 Chief Noel Hardin. The idea is simple. Get on top of a fire and get it doused quickly while it is still small. In rugged areas across our district, it's not always easy getting brush trucks to the scene of a fire quickly. That's where air suppression support can make a big difference. However, our local fire departments cannot afford the expense of air suppression, even though they have used it to stop fires while they are small.
If local fire districts can immediately begin using air support to attack a fire, it could be out much quicker, prevent destruction of timber and range land, protect our air quality, and save the state millions of dollars. That's opposed to if those fire chiefs must wait for state mobilization efforts. In the period of that waiting time, a small fire could explode into a large one.
This bill would allow local air support to take place quickly and provide reimbursement to those local fire suppression entities.”
To read more about my efforts to get this passed through the House, click here.
The bill must still go through the Senate. However, with unanimous approval in the House, it certainly helps the momentum of the legislation as it is considered by senators. It is now awaiting a hearing in the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks Committee.
Read the media stories about my bill:
- Fire fighting support bill passes Washington House – Columbia Basin Herald, March 11
- House unanimously OKs Dye bill – Lewiston Tribune, March 10
- House gives unanimous approval to Rep. Mary Dye's aviation wildfire suppression bill – KOZE Radio, March 8
- Listen to my Capitol Report radio program
Wild horse inmate program bill gains unanimous House approval
I am also thrilled to report the state House unanimously approved my wild horse inmate training program bill on Feb. 27. This is a measure I authored that originally passed the Legislature in 2020, but was vetoed by Gov. Jay Inslee, along with 147 other bills in an effort to save $235 million for COVID relief.
House Bill 1543 is patterned after the Arizona Department of Corrections' Wild Horse and Burro Training and Adoption Program in Florence, Arizona. It would direct the state Department of Corrections (DOC) to study and develop a plan for a wild horse training and farrier program at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center.
I wrote this bill after touring the Arizona facilities in the fall of 2019 where about 30 inmates were working to train wild mustangs that had been captured from Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public rangelands in western Arizona. The program gives inmates hands-on training in the equestrian field, helps them to build self-confidence as they care for the animals, and provides the opportunity for employable skills they can use upon release, including farrier certification. The recidivism rate for those inmates who have participated in the program and served their time is low. It also helps the Bureau of Land Management manage the horse population on public lands and keeps the ranges healthy.
The measure is now under consideration in the Senate Human Services Committee. You can read more about it in my press release.
2023 legislative session: Good and bad House bills
We still have six weeks of the legislative session remaining. In that time, we must craft operating, transportation and capital budgets for the next two years with the new fiscal cycle beginning July 1, 2023. In the coming days, you'll be hearing about each of those budgets and the revenue to support them. With such large surpluses, I do not support tax increases of any kind. I would support tax relief for struggling families.
With the major house of origin cutoff behind us, House Republican staff have compiled a list of “good and bad bills.” I invite you to take a look by going here.
OPINION EDITORIAL: Fighting for our farmers' survival
One of our biggest challenges in the Legislature is making sure state government does no harm to our hard working farmers. I recently penned an opinion editorial that appeared in several of our local newspapers which discusses legislation that could impact our farmers and what we are doing to fight those efforts. I invite you to read my article here.
Come visit your state Capitol
I enjoy having visitors from the district visit my office and the state Capitol. We have one of the most spectacular state Capitol campuses in the nation. Tours are available for visitors. You can get more information from this page: Coming to the Legislature.
If you do decide to visit, please call my office to schedule an appointment. You will find my contact information below.
It is an honor to serve and represent you!
432 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7942 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000