A debatable decision on the death penalty

OBan_E-news-Header-leg-district.jpgGreetings friends and neighbors!

We’ve just passed the 30-day mark, halfway through the 60-day session here in Olympia. State government works on a two-year cycle (called a biennium), which means that in odd years (like 2013) the “long” session lasts 105 days while in even years (like 2014) the “short” session lasts only 60.

On Tuesday, we’ll reach what’s called “floor cutoff,” where bills with no associated costs can no longer be considered in their body of origin. This is also known as “crossover,” because bills that have been approved by the full Senate cross over to the House of Representatives for Consideration, and vice-versa. Fortunately, it looks like we’re fully on track to finish in 60 days and won’t have to go into special session.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with your questions, comments or concerns. I’m your state senator and I work for you, so your feedback is a vital part of my job. I appreciate all your input, and thank you for allowing me the honor and privilege of serving you in the Washington State Senate.

Sincerely,

signature

My bills that have passed the Senate

Floor action

With the Tuesday deadline fast approaching, I’m pleased to say that a number of my bills have already been approved by the full Senate.

Senate Bill 5969 – Providing for awarding academic credit for military training. This bill would help military members and veterans get college credit for the training they received during their service. Passed by the Senate and now awaiting a public hearing by the House Higher Education Committee.

Senate Bill 5970 – Evaluating military training and experience toward meeting licensing requirements. This is another bill to grant civilian credit to military members and veterans for skills and abilities they developed while in the service. Passed by the Senate and now scheduled for a public hearing on Feb. 20 by the House Committee on Community Development and Housing & Tribal Affairs.

Senate Bill 6022 – Protecting state hospital workers. This bill would increase the penalty for assaulting an employee, contractor, intern, or volunteer of a state hospital who was performing his or her official duties to a third-degree crime. Passed yesterday by the Senate and referred to the House of Representatives.

More of my bills awaiting a floor vote

HEALTH CARE

Senate Bill 6122 – Concerning long-term planning for developmental disabilities services. Passed by the Senate Committee on Health Care and is awaiting a vote of the full Senate.

FOSTER KIDS

Senate Bill 6126 – Concerning representation of children in dependency matters. Passed by the Senate Committee on Ways & Means and is awaiting a vote of the full Senate.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Senate Bill 6023 – Searches by school resource officers. Approved by the Senate Committee on Law and Justice and is awaiting a vote of the full Senate.

Senate Bill 6024 – Modifying organized retail theft provisions (flash-robbery). Approved by the Senate Committee on Law and Justice and is awaiting a vote of the full Senate.

Senate Bill 6025 – Creating a sentence enhancement for body armor. Approved by the Senate Committee on Law and Justice and is awaiting a vote of the full Senate.

MILITARY AND VETERANS

Senate Bill 6049 – Providing a business and occupation tax credit for businesses that hire veterans. Still awaiting approval by the Senate Committee on Ways & Means.

WOMEN’S HEALTH

Senate Bill 6050 – Concerning communication of mammographic breast density information to patients. Passed by the Senate Committee on Health Care and is awaiting a vote of the full Senate.

TRANSPORTATION

Senate Bill 6051 – Reforming the Washington State Department of Transportation. Still awaiting a hearing by the Senate Committee on Transportation.

DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE

Senate Bill 6085Concerning prior offenses within fifteen years for driving under the influence or physical control of a vehicle violations. Approved by the Senate Committee on Ways & Means and is awaiting a vote of the full Senate.

For the full list of bills I’ve proposed, please visit my website.

Debatable decision on the death penalty

Death Penalty

Governor Inslee announced this week that he was using his executive power to suspend capital punishment while he remains governor. State law authorizes the governor to grant pardons or commute a death sentence, but not a blanket moratorium on the penalty itself.

Good people disagree on this issue. I have many friends who oppose capital punishment. I believe Inslee’s action ignores the victims’ families and is a misuse of his constitutional powers. The system we have in our state directs the Legislature to decide whether execution is an appropriate penalty for the most horrendous murders, while the governor decides on a case-by-case basis if that penalty has been applied inappropriately.

I’ve introduced a bill that would require the governor to hear from victims and law enforcement prior to exercising his or her powers of clemency through the Clemency and Pardons Board.

Join us for a town hall meeting in Graham!

Graham Fire

Senator Randi Becker and Representatives Dick Muri, J.T. Wilcox and Graham Hunt will be joining me for an upcoming town hall meeting in Graham next Saturday, Feb. 22. I’d like to invite 2nd and 28th District residents to join us.

Citizens who attend will receive an update on the 2014 legislative session, and we are encouraging participants to bring questions, comments or concerns about bill proposals, state government and issues affecting Pierce County.

The meeting will be held at the Graham fire station, located at 23014 70th Ave. east, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Coffee and cookies will be provided. I hope to see you there!

Honoring an American hero

Medal of Honor

On Tuesday of next week, it will be my great honor and privilege to introduce a Senate Resolution on behalf of U.S. Army Captain William Swenson, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Afghanistan.

In September 2009, as anti-Afghan forces began firing and calling for Swenson and his group to surrender, he fought back while providing first aid to his wounded partner. It was an act of resistance that inspired the troops pinned nearby to rally, and their subsequent response disrupted the enemy attack and pushed them back beyond hand grenade range.

Captain Swenson helped carry his wounded partner, with rocket-propelled grenades striking close-by, across 200 meters of terraced open ground where they successfully loaded him into a waiting MedEvac helicopter. Swenson then returned to the firefight to rescue more of his fallen comrades.

Please join us Tuesday morning in the Senate chamber if you can make it to watch as the Senate adopts a resolution honoring this hometown hero for his bravery and selflessness.