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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Thank you for the opportunity to represent the 43rd District in the Washington State House of Representatives. I am grateful for your support and am working closely with my seatmates, Speaker Frank Chopp and Senator Ed Murray, to advance our district's priorities in Olympia.
Since I was first elected in 2006, the legislature has made great progress on health care (providing for health coverage for all Washington kids, mental health parity, and setting up our state for smooth implementation of federal health care reform in 2014); public education (passing simple majority approval for school levies and redefining K-12 "basic education"); the environment (including significant funding for the cleanup of Puget Sound, a plan for the shutdown of the last coal-burning power plant in the state, and bans on toxic flame retardants, toxic toys, bisphenol A, copper brake pads, and phosphorus in fertilizer) and civil rights (including creation and expansion of a statewide domestic partner registry to protect same-sex couples and their families and the historic passage of marriage equality in the 2012 session).
I am proud to have been the prime sponsor of twenty eight bills that have been signed into law by the Governor in my first six sessions. Those included:
I currently serve as chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which has broad jurisdiction over family law issues such as marriage, adoption, and child support; commercial law; landlord/tenant issues; real estate; intellectual property; domestic violence; drunk driving; constitutional rights; and the court system. I also serve as the representative for the House Democrats on the Legislative Ethics Board and the Office of Civil Legal Aid Oversight Committee. I was also appointed by Governor Gregoire in 2010 to serve on the Uniform Law Commission
Notwithstanding our great victory on marriage equality, the 2012 legislative session has been called the most difficult one in recent memory. The session was dominated by our continuing budget crisis. In November 2010, the voters reimposed a requirement that any tax increases be approved by 2/3 majorities in the legislature. As we wrestled to address a $2 billion budget shortfall, we had no ability to raise revenues. Although the end, our operating budget protected education and the remaining safety net programs, it is clear that we need additional revenue to make adequate investments in our people. In 2011, I helped to organize and am a plaintiff in a lawsuit to overturn the 2/3 supermajority requirement for increasing taxes. The case will give the state Supreme Court a chance to restore proper constitutional balance to our government and give the legislature a fair chance to enact significant and progressive tax reform.
Thank you again for your support. Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions or comments.