Government Reform

Our current situation: When I started my first term in office, I was appalled to see that legislative voting decisions are not made in open, bi-partisan debate, but in closed, single-party caucuses. In a House that has 50 Democrats and 48 Republicans, one might expect that just slightly more Democrat-supported bills would be voted on. But the decision on whether a bill even gets a vote is determined solely by the majority party. Therefore, a bill that is supported by all the Republicans and a significant number of Democrats might not get a vote. This results in a significant imbalance in passed legislation. Our families need a legislature that functions more like the state founders intended – where nearly have of the legislators are not slighted.

My solution: Because my father was a State Senator in Montana and from asking legislators in other states, I know state governments do not operate this way across the country. In fact, it has not always been this way in Washington State. I will continue to argue that we need more open, transparent debate and less time in single party caucuses. I know even members of my own party will feel uncomfortable with this, but it will produce better legislation.

Our current situation: New rules that allow naked men in women’s locker rooms in Washington State are causing a lot of concern. Problems created by unelected panels are not unusual in Washington State. The Department of Labor and Industries (L & I) is notorious for creating rules that kill small businesses. Like the locker room rules, they are created with virtually no public input. To overturn what a group of unelected bureaucrats created, it often takes 76 elected officials to undo them (50 Representatives, 25 Senators and the Governor). And in the case of the bathroom rules, one Representative who chairs a House committee stopped that all by herself, by refusing to allow a hearing on the subject.

My solution: I co-sponsored legislation to provide a legislative check to agency rule-making before the rules go into effect. And I support reforms that would allow hearings and debate on controversial subjects, so we can come up with reasonable legislative solutions. I truly believe there is a better locker room solution that can garner bi-partisan support, if the legislative process will allow it.