Dear Friends and Neighbors,
With the 2020 legislative session underway it's important for you to be aware of the many opportunities you have to let your voice be heard on critical issues.
I'm pleased to report that after the passage of legislation last year, remote testimony in the state House begins this year. The pilot program consists of allowing three committees (College and Workforce Development; Housing, Community Development and Veterans; Local Government) to take video testimony at the following locations:
- Bellingham Technical College in Bellingham
- Central Washington University in Ellensburg
- Columbia Basin College in the Tri-Cities
- Spokane Community College in Spokane
Our form of government works best when the citizenry is engaged and has ample opportunity to be heard. Therefore, I highly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity so that this pilot program continues to expand. Low or no participation in this pilot could result in cancellation of future remote testimony opportunities.
You can also track bills and access committee information here, view my web site here, and get daily updated information on the Legislature and stories from around the state at our new site called The Ledger.
Your survey responses
Last fall, we mailed an issues survey to you. First, thank you for your feedback! We received over 800 survey responses. Taxes, public safety, housing and homelessness were the top three issues for respondents. Along with a general sense that the state needs to live within its means, constituents were clearly against any tax increase and adamant that the Legislature should honor I-976 and the $30 car tabs.
In addition, here are a few of the most common subject comments that were written on the mail-back panels:
“Enabling by not enforcing vagrancy is not solving anything.”
“Downtown Spokane is becoming unsafe. Build more jails and stop 'catch-and-release.'”
“Each year there seems to be more encroachment on our rights – particularly the Second Amendment rights. Advocate for firearms safety but don't take away my rights to defend myself or my family!”
“No more tax increases on anything! Spend within your means – I do!”
“We've said no to a state income tax so many times I'm growing tired of seeing it appear over and over again. Listen and do what we say! Like the $30 tab fees.”
There were several bills heard in committee this week dealing with your right to protect yourself and your loved ones. I have always believed our national and state constitutions are very clear on the issue and I will continue to fight to maintain the liberties for which so many have fought and died. If you want to express your opinion on the gun bills being considered in Olympia, you can find contact information for members of the Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee here.
Protecting taxpayers from home foreclosure
House Bill 2526 would decrease the penalty for late property tax payments from about 23 percent to 12 percent, which is more in line with other civil fee structures. I'm sponsoring this bill to help taxpayers avoid the further financial and emotional strain of fighting foreclosure. If homeowners can work to pay the back property taxes they owe, there's no reason for government to add an exorbitantly high penalty for late payment. Reducing the fees from 23 to 12 percent gives some needed relief to those who are struggling, yet still keeps intact an equitable consequence.
This week was the annual March for Life event at the Capitol steps. Despite the foul weather, hundreds of dedicated and concerned citizens from around the state converged at the state Capitol building in a show of unity and to be a voice for the voiceless. It's always an impressive and encouraging time.
Champion of Youth Award
I was extremely surprised and pleased to receive the Champion of Youth Award from Excelsior Wellness Center, a community-based nonprofit organization. You can read more about the award here. A big thank you to Excelsior's Chief Development Officer Kitara Johnson for her humbling comments:
“Mike Volz is a champion for youth not only because he advocates and supports the needs of youth in our community, but he dedicates time to check in and follow up to make sure youth are receiving the services they so desperately need. He is a leader who walks his talk and Excelsior is incredibly grateful because we cannot do what we do without the help from community members. The community's most vulnerable need champions and we are grateful to find one in Mike.”
Being a page is a great way for students to see their state government in action and learn firsthand. I'm pleased to be the sponsor for two House Legislative Pages this session. Gabrielle Wold from Cheney High School and Jack Schneider from Freeman High School. If you or someone you know would like to serve as a legislative page in future legislative sessions, please contact my office as soon as possible. You can find more information here.
Thank you for taking the time to stay involved and up to date. If you have questions or concerns about legislative matters, please feel free to contact my office by phone or e-mail.