My service in the Washington Legislature has been marked by two major characteristics – independent thinking and competent lawmaking.
Since my first involvement in politics, I have championed common-sense solutions to problems and I have taken positions after listening to different viewpoints from voters and concerned citizens. My positions on issues are based on what's right for the people I represent, not on partisanship or political correctness.
I was elected to the Washington House of Representatives twice as a Democrat and six times as a Republican, most recently in 2008. After two terms as a Democrat, I joined the Republicans, mostly because the downtown Seattle members who were in charge didn't share my values or the values of my neighbors and constituents in East Pierce and North Thurston counties. For example, I was denigrated and denied participation by Democratic "leaders" who didn't appreciate my sponsorship in the Legislature of "Three Strikes You're Out" and "Hard Time for Armed Crime" bills, ideas that were enacted with my strong support as Initiatives.
Although the Republican Party has been a good fit on many issues, such as controlling taxes and reducing the intrusion of government into our lives, my decision-making has been consistent since my first day in office: I represent you, the voters, and I do what I believe is right for the people of my district regardless of political or ideological affiliation.
As you review my positions on major issues below, please remember that while we may not agree on every issue, I will always listen to you and consider your point of view. If your position is compelling on an issue we disagree about, I will change my position. If we cannot agree on an issue, you will always get the truth from me about what I will do about a problem and how I will vote on legislation addressing that problem. No excuses or evasions: I work for you and take the trust you place in me very seriously.
Please click on the following topics for a discussion of my positions and accomplishments:
My work to bring jobs and promote economic development in Pierce County and the 2nd Legislative District has resulted in nearly $1 billion in additional money for Pierce County in the 2009-2011 Transportation Budget and the 2009-2015 Budget Plan – without a dime of new taxes. Transportation and infrastructure development is a critical component of overcoming the current recession, and I have been a leader of the successful bipartisan Pierce County legislative coalition to bring jobs and project financing to our area.
The $70 million we negotiated in the 2008-2009 Supplemental Transportation Budget (including significant federal funding) was a perfect example of what government can do if party labels do not attach themselves to legislation. My refusal to “follow and obey” both Democratic and Republican bosses in the Legislature has enabled me to fight – and win – for 2nd Legislative District workers and businessmen. My first question when working on budgets, taxes, and economic development bills is “Will it help the people I represent?”
I have supported and will continue to support budgets that promote transportation infrastructure and private sector jobs, but my record of restraint on unproductive government spending and tax increases has been consistent and conservative: I supported and worked hard to pass Initiative 601and Initiative 960, which put the brakes on spending (601) and tax increases (960). I fought the legislative repeal of these laws, and I support and endorse Initiative 1053, to reinstate Initiative 960. I strongly believe that all taxes should require a 2/3rds legislative vote or a vote of the People.
I have been recognized by many local and statewide organizations for my work with both business and labor, including receiving the NFIB “Guardian of Small Business” award in 2006, the Washington State Labor Council “Legislator of the Year” award in 1999, the Graham Business Association “Public Service Award´ in 2006, and the Washington State Nurses Association “Legislator of the Year” award in 2000.
I was the prime sponsor and lead legislator on five bills that became law in 2010. Each of them has business, and especially health-care business, impact, and I worked hard with both sides to minimize unfavorable impacts. Although much of my work as Chair of the Environmental Health Committee involved health care and the environment, I prime-sponsored or co-sponsored more than twenty other business-related bills, including working on HB 3116, an innovative small business loan guaranty program, and HB 3217, a small business taxpayer bill of rights.
I have been a successful small businessman in Spanaway for twenty seven years. I know the problems and frustrations that local small business must deal with, and I will do everything I can as a legislator so that big business or big government won’t make those problems worse. I have worked hard to promote common-sense solutions to the problems of both businesses and workers in my community and state – with absolutely no regard to petty party politics.
A list of all my prime-sponsored and co-sponsored bills can be found here.
As a professional provider of health care for more than 25 years, I have found that the most important question facing people and families is whether they can obtain convenient, affordable, high-quality health care from competent, accountable providers. The answer to that question must be "Yes!" – and I have been and will continue to be fully committed to that positive result.
In the five years before I entered the legislative arena, I became immersed in health care issues on behalf of the chiropractic profession and the chiropractic patients we serve. After working with my colleagues to unify our profession into a strong statewide professional association, we approached the Legislature to update and strengthen the Chiropractic Practice Act, the governing statute for licensed Chiropractors in Washington State. The new law permitted chiropractic patients to seek care and treatment for a broader range of musculoskeletal ailments, consistent with the latest scientific research and educational advances of our profession.
During my first year in the Legislature, I worked with both parties to pass a comprehensive health care reform law that included an important provision (termed the "every category of provider law") requiring insurance companies to cover services by any licensed provider type whose scope of practice includes treatment of a condition covered under a health insurance policy. This allows patients to choose a provider type that works effectively for them. Despite a massive insurance industry lobbying campaign that ultimately repealed most of the provisions of that early health care reform bill, the every category of provider law remains in force, having survived three attempts to repeal it in the legislature and a lawsuit brought by insurance companies that was unsuccessfully prosecuted all the way to the Washington State and US Supreme Courts.
Health care insurance continues to be a major problem in this state and across the country. "Health care reform" cannot succeed unless health care insurance is changed radically to serve people and providers rather than insurance executives and Wall Street investors.
I have focused my attention as a member of the House Health Care Committee on creating access to health care by creating access to affordable health insurance. Because most people obtain health insurance through their jobs, I was the lead Republican sponsor of a new law that created access to health care benefits for thousands of uninsured Washington workers. This new law gives small employers (those with fewer than 50 employees) more access to affordable plans, permits these employers to shop for better coverage and lower premiums without creating interim coverage gaps, and allows the Insurance Commissioner to improve coverage and affordability through responsible rulemaking.
Fifty percent of all health care complaints are brought against only five percent of health care providers. Incompetent and careless providers must be identified and removed from practice. Dangerous and incompetent providers were directly addressed in House Bill 1103, which I sponsored and which was enacted into law in 2008. The Washington State Medical Association recognized my work on this important patient protection law.
In 2000, my prime-sponsored Patient Bill of Rights bill, House Bill 2331, was included in a Senate bill that was passed and signed, creating one of the most comprehensive, powerful laws in the nation benefitting health care patients.
Health care provider liability insurance costs continue to rise, discouraging some providers, especially "high risk" providers such as obstetricians, from continuing their practices. Working with providers, insurers, and attorneys, in 2005 I joined with several colleagues from both sides of the aisle to enact a positive compromise that has proven to alleviate this problem.
Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) have long been a major source of serious illness and death for hospital patients. The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has estimated that HAIs were killing over 100,000 people per year, at a conservatively-estimated cost of $2.5 billion in unnecessary medical costs.
As a minority-party member of the House Health Care Committee, I proposed, and the Legislature enacted, House Bill 1106 to require hospitals to identify and report HAI infections to the federal Centers for Disease Control. That bill for the first time allowed a clear picture of the problem, and I have followed through with further legislation (House Bill 1123) in 2009 to require hospitals to take steps to control MRSA, a dangerous, drug-resistant infectious agent. Significant media attention, especially in the Seattle "Times", has assisted to build both public and legislative support for these issues.
Currently, I am supporting the Washington Health Partnership Plan, Senate Bill 5945, which will enable the State to obtain a federal waiver cutting the state portion of the Basic Health Plan (BHP) and Medicaid funding in half, allowing the infusion of substantial federal funding into the BHP and Medicaid programs so that a substantial number of Washington citizens, especially children, will be covered by health insurance. I was the only Republican on the Health Committee to vote for this excellent legislation.
As Chair of the Committee on Environment Health, a full Standing Committee of the House, I have demonstrated my high level of commitment to environmental issues, and have been recognized as an effective advocate for protecting people and the environment from dangerous toxins and chemicals. Although a minority Republican in a Democratic-majority House, I have worked effectively with both parties to become a champion of environmental causes within the jurisdiction of my Committee.
My Committee has been active and productive. As Chair, and as either Prime Sponsor or Co-Sponsor, I have managed legislation through to final passage to deal with some major problems, including removal of polybromated diphenyl ethers (PDBEs) that are used as a flame retardant in children's clothing, computers, televisions, and carpets; banning of toxic toys which exposed children to lead and cadmium; banning bisphenol-a (BPA), a toxin included in baby bottles and other plastics; and House Bill 1165, a bill regarding disposal of prescription drugs, was reported out of the Environmental Health Committee, but failed to pass this year. Additional legislation of note includes bills related to lead wheel weights (HB 1033), mercury lights (HB 1469), electric products (HB 1522), solid fuels (HB 1691), and release of mercury into the environment (HB 1799).
I am currently developing a Toxic Use Reduction Act bill to restrain and clean up any introduction of toxins and harmful chemicals into our environment. To fund this Act, the bill includes a sliding-scale fee that escalates with the toxicity and volume of the toxic substances released. The problems of Puget Sound and water supply pollution cannot be addressed until we deal with the waste stream entering our waters every day.
The failure of the federal government to ensure food safety continues to be a major problem, with impure or adulterated food entering our stream of commerce despite extensive federal government control programs that don't seem to be working. I am working on legislation to address this issue by creating a Washington Food Safety Commission: we must reduce the introduction of these harmful foods by changing production processes to assure clean food and beverages.
I have involved environmental groups such as Washington Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club in every stage of the Environmental Health Committee's activities, and I have been recognized by both organizations for my effective work on these issues.
I have been a leader on major crime prevention and victim assistance issues in the Legislature.
My bill from 1994 (House Bill 1139) was the legislative version of the "Three Strikes You're Out" initiative that was enacted by the people and that has proved to be highly successful in removing violent career criminals from our communities. I was also the Prime Sponsor of the "Hard Time for Armed Crime" bill, which was passed as an Initiative to the Legislature the following year.
Methamphetamines use and trafficking. I have been active and successful in addressing this terrible issue through solid legislation. My 2005-2006 bill stopping theft and restricting sale of "precursors" such as Sudafed in retail stores (House Bill 2266) has dramatically reduced the illegal commerce in these precursors, resulting in a 75% reduction in "Meth Lab" cleanups in our area and substantially reducing creation of new drug manufacturing sites in rural Pierce County. In 2008, responding to a request from local Sheriff's Deputies, I introduced and the legislature passed HB 2817, requiring local jurisdictions to decontaminate or destroy meth-contaminated vehicles, and requiring that titles to contaminated vehicle contain notices of contamination.
Sexual crimes. I have worked consistently on several new laws aimed at reducing sex crimes, especially such crimes victimizing children. Under Senate Bill 6933, which I supported, courts will now be permitted to consider evidence of previous sexual offenses at trial. Failure of sex offenders to register as required by law will be increased to a Class B felony under HB 2714, resulting in longer custody for offenders who refuse to register. The list of crimes mandating DNA testing is expanded under HB 2713 to all sex offenders, kidnappers, and certain serious misdemeanors offenses. And HB 2786 expands the web-based public notification system to include non-complying Level 1 sex offenders with the Level 2 and Level 3 offenders currently covered.
During my first Session, in 1993, I worked with my Senate counterpart to implement and accelerate construction of I-5 access ramps and overpasses at DuPont, where Intel was preparing to build a manufacturing plant. This was my first experience working on the Transportation Budget, and the result convinced me of the value of public-private partnerships in creating conditions for economic opportunity through infrastructure and transportation enhancements. "New DuPont" is now a thriving small city which has added hundreds of family-wage jobs in Pierce County.
This early lesson in transportation budgeting and economic development instructed me in budgetary politics and in working with the private sector to stimulate business and job growth.
Recently, for instance, following up on President Obama’s allocation of transportation and infrastructure moneys to the states, a bipartisan coalition of all Republican and Democratic legislators from Pierce County named me spokesman to secure these funds for Pierce County on a fair, non-political basis for our local communities.
I have been diligent and successful, working with the Pierce County bipartisan coalition to obtain $70 million for Pierce County in the 2008-2009 Supplemental Transportation Budget. The 2009-2011 Transportation Budget and 2009-2015 Transportation Budget Plan will include nearly $1 billion in additional budget outlays, creating jobs and stimulating economic growth in Pierce County and beyond.
This money is a significant victory for Pierce County: the money will fund more than 15 transportation projects throughout Pierce County, including replacing the Nalley Valley viaduct, expanding Pierce County HOV lanes on I-5, continuing work on the Cross-Base Highway (SR 704), providing money for immediate construction of the southern section of the Yelm Alternate Loop, providing $15 million over 6 years for the Puyallup River Bridge project, and obtaining $45 million for the Port-to-Puyallup SR 167 project.
Statewide, these appropriations will create 40,000 jobs this biennium and as many as 100,000 jobs over the next six years.
I am working to make the Port of Tacoma an International Foreign Trade Zone to enhance the growth of Puget Sound shipping. The Port has been and will remain a top development priority for future federal and state appropriations.
As a member of the House Transportation Committee, I view my involvement as central to obtaining needed funds for 2nd Legislative District and Pierce County transportation improvements. I believe my success in obtaining these results is a strong indicator of my dedication to our area and a good measure of my effectiveness as a legislator.
1. A follow-up bill to HB 1123 to require pre-surgery screening for MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) bacteria and to take additional steps to control these and related infectious agents.
2. A bill to facilitate and expedite civil arbitrations for consumer insurance claimants.
3. A bill creating an independent Food Safety Commission to work with farmers, food processors, retailers, and consumers to ensure food safety and purity.
4. A bill to implement five critical recommendations for improvements in state government departments made by the State Auditor in completed Performance Audits.
5. A bill to create a Legislative Budget Office equivalent to the Governor’s Office of Financial Management to provide independent expert advice and assistance to the Legislature on current and future state budget issues and problems.
Bills are being prepared and interim committee hearings and work sessions are being scheduled so these ideas can be given serious legislative consideration by the Legislature in the 2010 Session.
Listens, Cares, Helps.