Why the Wylie Report? Transparency.

In 2014 I wrote a newspaper style campaign piece dubbed the Wylie Report. I inserted into the Columbian newspaper and also posted it with capacity for comments on my campaign website and Facebook page. In 2016 I developed another report. My intent was to be transparent about what I am working on and my priorities as your representative. I received positive feedback from my constituents, so I am doing it again.

There are some differences this year. I do not have an opponent so I have been able to spend more time learning about upcoming issues and preparing for the next session.  You won’t see many of my signs because I already have name familiarity and there are lots of others running who you do not know and who seek your vote. Most folks have mixed feelings at best about the many yard signs and political mail that occurs each cycle.

However, I believe it is part of my job to tell you what my values are and to offer opportunity to comment and tell me what is important to you. We may not agree but I do my best to be responsive.

If you have an issue with state government and need assistance, you can call my office at 360-786-7924. I have a knowledgeable Legislative Assistant, Megan Walsh, to help me respond to the many calls I receive.

For campaign related contacts please use the information provided below in the yellow box. If you are unsure Megan can give you the correct contact method.  

Wylie on McCleary, "We have some work to do."

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There are 295 school districts across the state. Each one is responsible for addressing the needs in their varying communities. There are different costs of living and different student profiles. Our system is a joint responsibility between locally elected school boards who hire their superintendents and raise and spend local property taxes to fund schools and the state which is responsible for funding the  basics, setting policy, sharing the cost of construction and ensuring equity across the different communities. It took years to get close to determining how much local money went to the basics and how much went to locally important but “non-basic” priorities.

The court finally decided that we met the minimum when we added $2.3 billion this year and committed $13 billion over the next ten years. Part new and part to replace the local property tax dollars that schools had been forced to spend on some or most of the basics.

Satisfying the court is the beginning, not the end. We legislators understand that we all want to do more than a minimal effort to educate our children and meet our constitutional mandate. After all, we expect our kids and our employees to do more than the minimum. Despite our funding challenges we compare favorably with many other states. Our state economy is positioned to rely on international trade and innovation in technology, bioscience, agriculture and many more economic activities that need highly educated workers.

Our funding formula was a compromise that could not possibly make everyone happy. It will have to be changed. Taxpayers who are homeowners are unhappy with the property tax shift, or levy-swap, compromise done last session. It will be partially fixed next year. Labor negotiations also require compromise and go more smoothly in a climate of shared information, collaboration and honest communication. Intelligent people are at the table and all want to move forward.

Washington's Public Records Act a work in progress

After a long legal struggle and legislative effort, a task force was convened to reshape our public records act to better reflect our state values.  I believe that the long term effort of the legislature to be exempt does not reflect those values. I will work hard to ensure that we have a system that protects citizens while ensuring that we all follow the values of transparent government that also protects the privacy of those we serve.

Helping foster children

Each year we try to do more to help foster kids transition into adult life successfully.  We made it easier for them to obtain their records to get ID and drivers licenses so that they can get jobs.  Many of these kids have individual education plans while in public school. Schools typically purge that part of the record upon graduation, but for foster kids who could qualify for additional help, those records are critical.  We need to make sure young people have access to their records so if they need further help they can receive it.

Tax reform, finding a balance

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We are a state without an income tax.  Our sales tax exempts food and medicine because our policy is that we should not tax items that are so essential to people. Over the years, new products and services have entered the market and changing demographics create different essential needs. Some essential items are now taxed and some that are optional are not. Some services pay sales tax and some do not.  With the sales tax being such a large part of the revenue we depend on to fund schools and services, we need to be sure what we tax makes sense and is fair. An aging population will be purchasing fewer taxable items.  Our Business and Occupation tax is rough on small and start-up businesses. Our property tax, which is a major part of our school funding becomes a burden for older people trying  to keep their homes  as they age.  We have a few programs to provide property tax relief to low income and disabled seniors and I have sponsored legislation to allow people to deduct their medical expenses in order to qualify for these programs.  I will do so again. 

Most people agree that things like food, medicine, and possibly tampons and diapers should not be taxed. I have sponsored bills that create efficiencies and save money by making major changes in our tax system. This will make it less regressive, more stable, and provide enough money for the education our kids need and the services for our citizens. 

Removing sales tax on some items will require taxing other things. Are you willing to be part of this process?What are your thoughts?

Rape kit processing

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I am proud that during my time representing you our state has dedicated funding to process the enormous backlog of untested rape kits.  We also have set up a tracking system so survivors can see where their case is in the process. We are finding that even the oldest kits are resulting in identification   of serial rapists, getting good conviction rates and helping to get dangerous predators off the streets and out of our communities.  This is a national shame and there is more to be done. There is unused capacity at our local crime lab and new technology to further this work. I will continue to fight for sexual assault survivors.

Removing Port of Vancouver campaign finance loophole

 Aerial view of the Port of Vancouver, WA.

Aerial view of the Port of Vancouver, WA.

I am proud of the way that our community has become active in shaping our economic future.  Our recent efforts to stop the transition of our Port into the largest oil transfer terminal on the west coast and to seek economic development that fits our region is a success.   In 2017, a loophole in our campaign finance laws allowed over $1 million to flow into our local port race. I sponsored a bill that would ensure that all ports follow the same campaign finance laws as other elected bodies. I look forward to its passage in 2019.

Consumer protection still a major priority

Many of us are concerned about cyber security and internet crime. Every day we hear about how vulnerable we are. Several years ago I became interested in how the system and stakeholders work together to protect consumers from internet crime. It started with a consultant study I did around residential contracting. With so many folks growing older and remodeling our homes for “aging in place” this is an issue we need to look at. Our governor is one of the few in the country who has been proactive, having a cabinet level expert to make sure your data is protected. The federal government has made decisions that will force the state to look closely at internet gambling and sports betting. It is time to take a comprehensive look at our entire state system of consumer protection, update it, and to seek ways to make it work better. I intend to introduce a bill to update and reform our consumer protection system. If you know about issues that we should consider please contact me!

Minor changes to gun law

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Last session we enacted some minor changes to our gun laws.  We banned bump stocks and began to set up a method to compensate owners. This is not working out as intended. We also have a measure on the ballot and there will be a need to look at those results next session.  

Our state troopers, like other law enforcement entities, occasionally confiscate guns used in crimes.  Unlike other law enforcement organizations, a loophole forces them to sell them back into the market instead of destroying them as is done with other agencies. We need to review this loophole. I also think there should be a minimum age for the purchase of guns. What do you think?

Washington State first to take action on Net Neutrality

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On June 6th of this year, Washington was the first state to take action to protect Net Neutrality. I am proud to have been one of the sponsors of this bill. Many folks have difficulty understanding what this issue is about; take this transportation analogy for example: The taxpayers build a highway. Many people use it. Some use it to make money providing different types of access. Some use it to get to work or to the hospital or to educate their children. Other entities provide on-ramps. Some organizations observe who is on the highway and where they go and sell that information and manipulate it for marketing and other purposes.  The on-ramp providers say they are not responsible for what the sellers are doing. They say “we are not making money selling your data but we don’t want you to prohibit us or interfere.” The sellers are offering the on-ramp providers extra money to manage speed of access. The result will be if you are a big corporation you can buy access while the person getting to school, to the doctor, or to work has to wait. The federal government stopped their effort to regulate in the interest of the public. States like Washington are stepping into the breach. Remember, taxpayers paid for this highway.