TRI-CITIES, Wash. — Local lawmakers are gearing up for the 2019 session.
In a few days the Washington state legislature re-convenes in Olympia.
Action News spoke with congressional leaders from our side of the state about some of the measures Washingtonians need to know.
Representative-elect Skyler Rude (R - 16th district) says it's always easier to spend other people's money.
"If it's not your own, I don't think people have the same ownership over [it]," he explained. "I think it's [necessary] for legislators to restrain ourselves from spending as much as as may be easy to spend."
One of Washington's freshest congressional leaders is from Walla Walla.
32-year-old Skyler Rude is being sworn in on Monday and getting right to work.
He says he's disappointed at the governor's budget because state government is growing at an alarming rate.
"The economy is doing well, we're collecting extra sales tax revenue because of that," he said. "I'm not the person who's going to say no new taxes ever, but the economy is doing well, the states revenue stream is very healthy, now isn't the time to be pursuing new taxes."
Instead, Rude talked about the newly proposed House Bill (HB) 1038, allowing some school employees to keep firearms on school grounds under certain conditions.
He says too often the conversation focuses solely on, quote: "arming teachers", without exploring the circumstances.
"Maybe in some cases allowing staff-members to carry arms might be okay. I think there are a variety of factors to consider, so I'm open to the discussion but I think it could be a pretty complex discussion.
The freshman legislator says he's throwing his weight behind HB 1074, which raises the minimum age merchants are legally able to sell tobacco and vape products to.
It's currently 18, but if the measure passes it could be 21.
"The intention is to get tobacco out of schools."
Rep. Brad Klippert (R- 8th District) is talking about schools, too.
When he isn't in Olympia he works as a school resource officer and sees the effects of marijuana on students and their families.
HB 1003 aims to keep marijuana businesses away from facilities frequented by children.
"I don't want this drug that is a hallucinogen to be anywhere near our children," he said. "Anything I can do to prevent that I want to do that to keep our children safe."
The Kennewick resident is also introducing a bill to reduce the number of Washington Supreme Court Justices as a money-saving measure.
Currently nine Justices sit at the bench, but HB 1081 would reduce that to five.
Klippert pre-filed the measure after that same court began, as he calls it, legislating from the bench.
The court ordered Washington state legislators, the branch of government in charge of writing the state budget, to find more money for education or be fined $100 thousand a day.
"We've got to find money somewhere," Klippert said. "If we reduce nine down to five, we're saving citizens of the state of Washington money. They've gone outside of their lane, so here's a place we can [cut costs].
He says the most important thing for all Washingtonians to know is that they're welcome to come to Olympia and testify in committee for any of the bills that go before a committee
"This is your government," Klippert said. "If [you] see something coming up, get over to Olympia, get in front of the legislature at every opportunity to make your voice heard."