We’re back in Olympia this week for the 2017 legislative session! The Legislature alternates between long sessions (105 days) and short sessions (60 days) because we operate on a two-year, or biennial, budget. This year is a long, 105-day session. Because we write and pass the biennial state budget during a long session, we have some major issues to address this year, such as education funding, mental health, and land use issues.
As always, the best ideas for our government come from you. If there’s any way I can help make our government work better for you, I’m here and listening. Send me an email at Jan.Angel@leg.wa.gov or give my office a call at (360) 786-7650.
Taking the Lead on Financial Institutions and Insurance
Yesterday, I held my first hearing as Chair of the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee. After serving as co-chair and vice-chair of the committee over the past few years, I am now taking the lead and plan to work hard to make sure our technology is not getting ahead of our policy. That means we’ll be looking into rules regarding cybersecurity, identity theft, and self-driving cars.
During my first hearing, we heard from the Dept. of Financial Institutions and the Office of the Insurance Commissioner about their latest concerns about the quality of bank assets and discussed a bill that would update laws on virtual/online currency. Many more interesting issues will be coming up in committee, so stay tuned!
Protecting Your Tax Dollars: Supporting the 2/3s requirement for taxes
This week, we set the rules for how the Senate would conduct business in the 2017 session. Because voters have repeatedly asked the Legislature to require a higher standard of support for raising taxes, we made it a part of Senate rules that any new taxes need to get two-thirds support in the chamber in order to pass.
This is a major step for maintaining fiscal discipline. With all the work going into writing the state budget and resolving our education funding issues, it’s important that any new taxes are a last resort, not the first response. With the Governor proposing an $8 billion tax increase, it’s more important than ever that we maintain the highest standards of protection for taxpayer dollars.
My voters have made their support for these principles clear. Last time this was up for a vote as an initiative, the 26th District passed it with 70% support. That’s why I stood up and helped set this protection of your tax dollars as the ground rules moving forward.
Taking Action on Bills
This week, I introduced my first bills of the session. We’ll be talking about them more as they advance in the coming weeks, but you can take a quick look at the ones I’ve started work on below:
My Senate Page for the Week
I enjoy the opportunity to get local students involved with government and I was proud to sponsor Forest Kelly in the Senate Page Program this week. The Senate Page Program is an opportunity for Washington students to spend a week working in the Legislature and is open to all students aged 14-16.
Forest is an 8th grader at Heritage Christian School. He lives in Olalla with his parents Sean and Margo Kelly where he plays soccer and trombone. He participates in training for therapeutic riding at Miracle Ranch in Port Orchard where he is working to help kids with special needs learn how to ride horses. Good for you, Forest!