Economy, transit, education, health care keep legislature busy

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJanuary 23, 2014 

Thank you to the citizens of the 42nd who elected me again, and have entrusted me to be their voice during the 2014 legislative session. I am optimistic and excited about the progress we can make this session.

This year I have taken on a new role as ranking Republican on the house Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. I'm honored my house colleagues have shown confidence in my abilities by choosing me for this position. This committee evaluates legislation on a broad range of important topics that impact communities in the 42nd district. The people back home who elected me are farmers, ranchers, miners and citizens. The issues we examine in this committee will impact the children who play in our parks, the food on our tables and the citizens who depend on access to water. Now, as the ranking Republican, I am more dedicated than ever in finding common-sense solutions and working across the aisle on behalf of the people of Washington state.

As always, the legislature faces many challenges. However, this year we will benefit from the compromise and growth of last year. We were able to pass a budget that - while not perfect - left us without a significant budget shortfall. In fact, our projected surplus should be enough to cover any small adjustments needed in the 2014 supplemental budget. This is good news for lawmakers and even better news for taxpayers. The government can live within its means and should not be reaching into the pockets of its citizens.

There remain many pressing issues before us this session including jobs and the economy, transportation, education, taxes, health care, public safety and many other matters. I've introduced several bills that address some of these important areas including public safety, emergency preparedness, tax exemptions and construction.

Among them is House Bill 2258 that would clarify the definition of employee when it concerns independent contractors in the construction industry. This bill would clarify that independent contractors are independent small businesses and not employees of a larger company.

Another bill I have sponsored would protect the privacy of individuals who may fall victim to what is commonly referred to as "revenge porn." House Bill 2257 would make it a crime to share intimate photos of another person, such as those sent via text to a partner while in a relationship.

HB 2257 would make it a class C felony for those who distribute these types of images with the intent to cause emotional distress or if someone discloses the photo knowing that the person in the picture believed the image would remain private. The creation of this law makes it a public offense to defame someone in this manner while also protecting people who come forward because of cyber sexual harassment through no participation of their own. Similar legislation has passed in New Jersey and California and other states have pending legislation.

While I am at the capitol, the needs of our communities remain at the forefront of my mind. I encourage constituents to contact me with their thoughts and options. I am here to serve the people and my door is always open. My phone number, office location and email address are all listed on my website, representativevincentbuys.com. Additional information will be available on my website regarding a telephone town hall and an in-person town hall. I encourage all constituents of the 42nd district to look for details on these events in the future and to participate if they can. Hearing your opinions helps me be your voice in Olympia.

We have a lot of work to do, but I am up to the challenge and surrounded by many other legislators who are ready and willing to work hard for our citizens.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rep. Vincent Buys represents Washington's 42nd legislative district, which includes all of Whatcom County.

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