The following op-ed appeared in the Dayton Chronicle and the Prosser Record-Bulletin during the third week of January.
By Sen. Maureen Walsh. Rep. Terry Nealey and Rep. Bill Jenkin
It is once again an honor to be back at the state Capitol, representing you and the citizens of the 16th District during the 2018 legislative session.
Lawmakers convened in Olympia on Monday, Jan. 8. Like every even-numbered year, the 2018 session will be 60 days. There’s much work to be done in a short amount of time.
For the first time in five years, Democrats control both chambers in the Legislature, but only by one vote each, and a Democrat (Jay Inslee) holds the governor’s office. While Gov. Inslee is hoping to take advantage of this majority to push a more extreme agenda, we are ready to offer reasonable and commonsense solutions on the challenges that face our state, and work across the aisle on issues that matter to all of Washingtonians, not just those who live in Seattle.
Some of the major issues we expect to address during the 2018 session include:
- Hirst solution, capital budget – Unfinished business from last year’s session that is of utmost importance is finding a permanent solution on the state Supreme Court’s controversial Hirst water decision and passing a capital construction budget. The capital budget is critical for jobs and infrastructure and many projects are on delay until it is passed. However, many people in rural areas who had hoped to drill wells on their undeveloped properties are on hold too, because of Hirst. We believe BOTH measures must be passed to help property owners and allow for public AND private development.
- Education funding – In November, the state Supreme Court said legislation passed during the 2017 session (House Bill 2242) met the state’s education funding requirements. However, the court also said the Legislature did not meet the full funding deadline of Sept. 1, 2018, because the salary phase won’t be completed until the 2019-20 school year. The court has ordered full implementation by Sept. 1 of this year, retaining jurisdiction of the case, along with a $100,000 per day fine. There will be much discussion as to how to and whether address this new order.
- Supplemental budgets – We will also need to make minor adjustments to our other two budgets: operating and transportation.
- Taxes – Olympia seems to have a thirst for new and increased taxes. This session is no different. Gov. Inslee is pushing for a new carbon tax on top of his controversial climate agenda. This would increase the price of electricity, groceries, manufacturing and delivery of goods and services. It would also hike the price of gasoline by about 20 cents a gallon. We think there are better and more effective ways to address the carbon issue, such as phasing out coal.
Your input is important! Here’s how to reach us:
Rep. Terry Nealey
Rep. Bill Jenkin
Sen. Maureen Walsh
Go to our websites for additional ways to contact us. Also, be sure to watch this column each week throughout session as we take turns discussing individual issues and bills we are advancing. Thank you for the honor of allowing us to serve you!
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Rep. Terry Nealey, R-Dayton; Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla; and Rep. Bill Jenkin, R-Prosser serve the 16th Legislative District.