Pearson ready for session

As I return to Olympia Jan. 11, this will be my tenth year serving the good people of the 39th Legislative District. This year will bring forth some of the greatest challenges our state has faced in recent memory. My experience has shown me what legislation can work to help the citizens and what will harm them.

First, when times are tough, it is not the time to look for new ways to tax the people, particularly when one in 10 people are unemployed in our district. For our state to be successful, leaders must create a climate to encourage small business growth, which is the lifeblood of our communities, to create jobs and lift our state out of the recession.

To that end, I have co-sponsored several pro-jobs measures, including:

HB 2043 would require agencies make permitting decisions in a timely fashion — 90 days — otherwise our employers would be issued the permit automatically. The quicker a permit is granted, the sooner folks can get back to work;

HB 1617 would require significant state agency rules not be allowed take effect before the Legislature has had adequate time to review them; and

HB 2057 would reduce sales tax on new construction to increase homebuilding activities and put people back to work.

These bills are important steps to retaining and creating the private-sector jobs people need, which will lift our state out of the recession. While the bills were introduced in the 2009 session, none of them made it through the public hearing process. In fact, only House Bill 1617 received a hearing.

I believe that even in difficult times it is important to have good legislation that protects the citizens of this state. That’s why I am sponsoring and co-sponsoring critical public safety measures this year, which are:

House Bill 2424 would update our laws to reflect growth in technology by redefining the felony crime of possession of depictions of child pornography to include deliberately viewing images of child sexual abuse over the Internet;

House Bill 2427 would create stricter criminal sanctions for repeat domestic violence offenders to properly reflect the danger to society, victims and the criminal conduct of repeat abusers. It would also allow prosecutors to take into account previous acts of domestic abuse to ensure the punishment reflects the totality of repeat abusers actions;

House Bill 2533 would require the state to adopt the interstate compact on mental health, which would allow Washington to extradite a person of unsound mind who is wanted in another state for failing to meet the terms of their release from incarceration.

These issues are critical and frankly, common-sense updates to public safety laws that will protect the citizens of this state. As the Republican leader on public safety issues, I believe we should not balance the budget with cuts that make citizens less safe. Cutting felon supervision, lessening sentences and allowing felons the ability to roam our state unchecked is unacceptable.

High credit card rates have a stranglehold on citizens trying to pay off debt. That is why I introduced House Bill 2195. The proposal would revive Washington’s restrictions on credit card interest rates. Washington has had a Usury Rate law, which is 12 percent or 4 percent above the Treasury Bill Rate as calculated by the Federal Reserve, since statehood that already allows for this.

I believe it’s the right thing to do in these extraordinary times. We’ve offered bailouts at the federal level to banks and Wall Street big-wigs as well as stimulus packages that have helped everyone but the hard-working, middle-class folks who are struggling to make ends meet.

Finally, there is a proposal in the governor’s budget to cut levy equalization to school districts. This would hurt our rural school districts the most, including the districts in our communities. I will fight to keep levy equalization in place and will not accept any cuts to school funding. I believe education should be a top priority for the state.

In conclusion, my agenda is one that is crafted to create prosperity and to protect and empower all Washingtonians. I welcome your feedback on these or any other issues before the Legislature. I can be reached at pearson.kirk@leg.wa.gov or 360-786-7816.

Rep. Kirk Pearson is the Republican leader on the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee. He represents Western Washington’s 39th Legislative District. He can be reached at pearson.kirk@leg.wa.gov.

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