Legislative Update – March 12, 2015
Friends and Neighbors,
It has been a busy week, working late into the evening voting on bills before our deadline yesterday at 5 p.m. Bills had to be be voted out of the Senate by that time and sent to the House of Representatives to continue in the legislative process. In the Senate, we have focused on property crimes, flash robbery, mental health care reform, oil train safety, clean energy, among other things. We will now begin holding public hearings on bills that have been approved by the House of Representatives. You can click here to see the bills that I am working on or go to http://leg.wa.gov/for information on other bills.
On March 5 the Senate passed Senate Bill 5755 which focuses on better supervision of property criminals, like those who commit home invasion and auto-theft. This has become a major problem in our community. We have a substantial recidivism rate for property criminals. This legislation will create much stronger accountability on repeat offenders who are disproportionately responsible for many of the serious property crimes.
We are seeing increased incidences of organized retail threats, or flash mobs, in which a group of thieves steal multiple products from a single retail store in a single incident. Significant loss and injury may result. In response, I sponsored Senate Bill 5037 which creates a new category of theft to provide greater punishments for such offenses. Please click on the image to watch my interview.
The bill makes needed changes to stiffen the law to take into account not only the value of goods stolen but also the means used to organize, and it would be classified as a Class C felony.
The bill passed the Senate with a majority vote this week and has been referred to the House Public Safety Committee for further action.
Oil Train Safety
For the last 3 years, the Senate has been working to address concerns about increased rail traffic of oil trains moving through our communities. Last year when this issue was before the Legislature, I sent a letter to President Obama, our congressional delegation, and the federal agency in charge of regulating oil-train safety urging them to expedite tougher regulations. Accidents are becoming more common with four oil train accidents in recent weeks across our nation. Click here to read a recent news report on the accidents.
On Monday night the Senate passed an oil-train safety bill focused on emergency preparedness for first responders and planning to keep communities safe. In addition to pressure from the federal regulators, industry leaders are stepping up to the challenge to improve the safety and design of these tanker cars.
There is still work to be done on this issue as the Washington State Department of Ecology estimates that rail shipments of oil were expected to triple in 2014 to 55 million barrels, up from 17 million in 2013.
I have been speaking with Burlington Northern Santa Fe this week to gather data and work together for better solution
Working with me in Olympia
I had two wonderful students from our district serving as pages in Olympia last week, Amy Rood, 15, enjoyed her experience working on the Senate floor.
McKenna Jarrard, 16, also served as a page. She enjoyed listening to the debates on legislation that impacts people’s lives.
The Senate’s Page Program is a great opportunity for young people to learn about the legislative process.You can find more information on how your student can spend the week in Olympia working as a page by clicking here.
2015 “Champion for Kids” Award
The Digital Public Schools Alliance of Washington and the Washington On-line Learning Academy honored me with this award for my work on expanding learning opportunities. Education is so valuable for our children’s future and I am committed to expanding access to quality learning options for families.
The program is adaptable to meet the needs of students and is overseen by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Visit here to find out more about the program.
It is an honor to represent you as your state Senator. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office at (360)786-7654 if I can be of service to you or your family with issues pertaining to Washington State government.
28th District Senator
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
– Sir Winston Churchill
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