Dear Friends and Neighbors,
There's less than one month remaining of the 105-day regular session, which is scheduled to adjourn April 28. We still have plenty of unfinished business to address within a short time.
This email update will provide information on an upcoming telephone town hall, a meeting I had with the Superintendent of Public Instruction where we had a serious discussion about the concerns with mandated sex education, an enormous operating budget proposal with massive tax increases I oppose, and an update on my bills moving through the Senate.
17th District Telephone Town Hall, Thursday, April 4, 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Be sure to join me Thursday, April 4, at 6 p.m., along with Rep. Paul Harris, for a telephone town hall. As we head into the final weeks of this legislative session, I will be voting on hundreds of bills. I want your input so that I can best represent you when pressing the voting button.
The telephone town hall is much like a radio talk show. First, I will provide an update of the legislative session, then take your calls. You can listen in from the comfort of your home.
To participate, call 360-209-3911 between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. To ask a question, press the Star (*) key on your telephone keypad. I very much look forward to talking with you Thursday evening.
Kraft voices parental concerns to Public Schools Superintendent over comprehensive sex education
A press release I sent out March 15 about three very concerning bills, including comprehensive sex education in public schools, caught the attention of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal.
Reykdal requested Senate Bill 5395, a measure that mandates sex education in Washington's public schools. In an email, his staff expressed concern about my press release. My response was to set up a meeting with him.
We met on Friday, March 24, and I explained to him that many parents are outraged by mandatory comprehensive sex education. In addition, some of the curriculum which has been reviewed and approved, and is listed on the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction's (OSPI) website, is causing tremendous concern.
The FLASH curriculum, for example, describes sex is graphic detail for the fourth through sixth grades. Why do kids that young need to understand how sex happens? Birth control of all kinds is taught in the sixth through eighth grades. Many parents do not want public schools teaching this type of information to their children, especially at such young ages.
Reykdal stated curriculum is a local level decision. He also said the middle school and high school FLASH sex education curricula have met the standards, adding that he feels it is age appropriate, medically accurate, and he stands by it.
You can view the FLASH lesson plans for grades 4/5/6, middle school and high school on the King County Public Health Department website here.
The meeting gave me an opportunity to let your voice be heard. I told him in no uncertain terms how I've received close to 1,000 emails, phone calls, letters and personal visits from parents concerned about mandated sex education under Senate Bill 5395. As a member of the House Education Committee, I will continue my efforts on your behalf to stop this bill and to ensure parents' voices are heard.
Democrats' proposed operating budget seeks to grow government with enormous tax increases – I voted NO!
I serve on the House Appropriations Committee, which considers matters related to the state operating budget. The committee adjourned Wednesday just before midnight after debating for hours a state operating budget proposed March 25 by House Democrats that would enact record spending that relies on billions of new and increased taxes — all of which are unnecessary.
Despite historical revenue growth and $3 billion in unforecasted revenue coming in, the Democrats' proposal includes a massive tax increase of more than $4 billion over four years through a capital gains income tax, a graduated real estate excise tax, business and occupation taxes, and increased local property taxes. This is your money and it should stay in your pockets.
The current 2017-19 budget spends about $44 billion. The Democrats' 2019-21 operating budget proposal would spend about $53 billion, an enormous increase of $8.6 billion (19.4 percent) over current spending levels.
Under this proposal, state spending will have increased by nearly $22 billion or 70 percent since 2013. This level of explosive growth is not being responsible or accountable to the people.
Raising taxes and increasing spending hurts our local businesses and the jobs our families rely upon. Plus, raising real estate and property taxes impacts all constituents. The bottom line is this: We don't need to raise taxes. Period! Existing revenues are more than sufficient to fund our state's shared priorities.
This spending plan came to the House floor early Friday evening and passed by a vote of 56-38. I voted against it in the Appropriations Committee, and again voted no on the House floor. It's time we remember the taxpayer, who has apparently been forgotten in the Democrats' haste to grow state government.
Kraft bills advancing in the Senate
Three of my prime-sponsored bills that passed the House are moving with very good support through their respective Senate committees. They include:
- House Bill 1836 – Child sex crimes/fee waivers: Originally, my measure would have added a mandatory $5,000 fee to the end user who is convicted of committing sex trafficking offenses with a minor. The measure was amended in committee so that the mandatory fee of those convicted is $3,500. However, it would give judges the discretion now to increase that fee up to $7,500. A public hearing was held this morning at 10 a.m. in the Senate Law and Justice Committee. I invite you to watch my video about this bill.
- House Bill 1082 – Massage therapists – Photo ID: Unfortunately, there are establishments in our area and across the state that may look like a massage or reflexology business on the outside, but inside, sex trafficking is actually taking place. This measure would reduce sex trafficking by requiring a massage or reflexology therapist to carry their driver's license or enhanced ID on or near their person while at work. That way, law enforcement could verify the therapist's certification matches the photo ID and that they're a legitimate practitioner. A public hearing was held Wednesday in the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee. The bill was passed out of committee today. Read more about this bill and the background behind it in my news release.
- House Bill 1583 – Mosquito control districts: This bill would help taxpayers by extending the delinquency period of unpaid mosquito control district assessments from two years to three years. This measure passed the Senate Local Government Committee on Tuesday and is now in the Senate Rules Committee awaiting to be pulled for a vote on the Senate floor.
You can read details about my other prime-sponsored bills in my previous email update here.
It is such an honor. . .
It is one of the greatest honors of my life to serve as your state representative. Thank you to everyone who has called, emailed, or written to me, or has dropped by my office in Olympia. I want you to know that your input matters — and I take very seriously my responsibility to be your voice at the state Capitol. Please continue contacting my office with your concerns and comments. Thank you for allowing me to serve and represent you!