The end of the 2018 session

March 12, 2018

floorGreetings from Olympia, 

The 2018 legislative session is finally over. I’m looking forward to getting back in district to meet with you and discuss the mostly low points of the session. It was a bad year for taxpayers, for the legislative process and common sense. The new majority wasted no time implementing budget gimmicks and ramming through half-baked legislation to appease special interests and grow government.

Even though the state is bursting at the seams with your hard-earned tax dollars (over $2 billion more than we expected), the majority spent all the extra money. Then they diverted $700 million from the voter-approved rainy-day fund, circumventing the law against the advice of our state Treasurer. This move risks our state’s bond rating which could result in higher interest rates. I guarantee the current majority will be looking for a tax increase next years to cover increased costs of borrowing.

Using a shell game to give you back 40 cents on a dollar?

We had the resources to provide needed property tax relief of $1 billion this year, increase education funding for McCleary, and deposit $700 million into the rainy day fund savings account. The majority chose a different path – voting down our budget proposal for 1 billion in tax relief this year, choosing instead $400 million next year. They spent much more than we needed and set a “dangerous precedent” regarding the state’s savings account.

Imagine, you get a bonus, and instead of paying down your debt, you take out another mortgage on your house, deplete your savings, buy a bunch of stuff and then spend your bonus – that is what the majority did.

2AYour Second Amendment rights

I warned early on that the new majority would make a big deal about guns. The recent tragedy in Florida gave them an impetus to act. Fortunately, they could not muster the votes to significantly impact your ability to exercise your rights. I was able to get the original bump stock bill amended so it only applied to the actual piece of plastic, not all semi-automatic firearms. The ban is just symbolism over substance. My question is how does that make our students any safer tomorrow? All the proposals that have now died in Olympia would just add more layers of bureaucracy without fixing the problem. Click here to watch one of my video updates on the subject, and a proposal that I was championing in the wake of the Florida shooting to keep our students safe.

Process matters


Aside from poor budgeting, the majority also took great liberties with the legislative process this year. They chose to debate important bills in the dead of night, limited debate on other bills and circumvented the legislative process to rush through legislation for special interests. Late in the evening, the majority even pushed through legislation that no one had even read! It was supposed to be a simple concurrence with the House but devolved into a dispute because changes were made to the bill without anyone knowing what was in it. Since they have the votes, the bill was approved. My seat on the Senate floor is near where the Senate pages sit. I make a point to discuss the legislative process with these young students who have taken an interest in state government. The last night of the legislative session provided quite the lesson.

Government needs to get out of the way!

Sometimes in Olympia, there are far too many solutions in search of a problem. The reality is that government often just needs to get out of the way. Here are a couple examples. We teach motorcycle riders to back into a parking spot, but local jurisdictions have been fining people $125 for doing what they are taught! The fact is we needed a law change that (I sponsored Senate Bill 6070), instead of just using common sense.

Taxpayer money is still taxpayers money no matter which budget it comes out of!

We have a problem bridge in our district between Buckley and Enumclaw.  In the last 10 years, the bridge has been hit three times with over height construction equipment. The transportation budget that was approved included repainting that bridge for $2 million (from transportation budget). I had an amendment to stop the painting until we determine if the bridge could be replaced. The response? “We have to protect our infrastructure.” When the bridge is repaired, it is a 17-mile detour for emergency services to get the hospital.  The solution? Upgrade a proposed pedestrian trail bridge to handle emergency vehicles. That costs $8 million (from the capital budget). How much is a new bridge? $10 Million. So, we are painting a bridge before we replace it. Your tax dollars at work!

You can see a complete list of transportation and capital projects by clicking here.

It’s an honor to serve as your state Senator. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns about your state government.


Fortunato Signature

Phil Fortunato,

Your 31st District State Senator

Contact Me:

Mail: PO Box 40431 Olympia, WA 98504

Olympia Office: 201 Irv Newhouse Building Olympia, WA 98504

Phone: (360) 786-7660


Committee assignments

During the 2018 legislative session, I am serving on the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee and the Senate’s Transportation Committee.

Government guide

We have updated the 31st Legislative District government guide to make it easy for you to contact your federal, state and local officials. It’s a one-stop tool that gives you the phone numbers, emails and information you need for everything from schools and senior centers to members of Congress and the President.
You can access the online version of the guide anytime by clicking here or you can call my office for a physical copy while supplies last.

SB 6617 Public Records Disclosure

Many have written to my office about the public records bill, Senate Bill 6617. The media has been whining that the passage of the bill usurped their lawsuit, which they filed this past fall in Thurston County. They claimed the Legislature improperly denied their requests for records, which would include constituent correspondence and e-mails and my negotiations with other members about legislation, which is exempt under the 1972 Public Records Act.

To clarify what records should be disclosed and what shouldn’t, SB 6617 was drafted. The outrage came when the majority party rushed the bill through without a hearing, jammed it through the legislative process, and rushed it to the Governor’s desk.  While there was nothing especially controversial about the bill, the process the other party used sent a message that there was something to hide.

I want to protect the privacy of constituents. Unlike the Seattle Times and News Tribune, I do not want my constituents’ information disclosed in their newspapers. Public disclosure requests in the past have sought to disclose signers of the traditional marriage initiative and concealed carry permit holders.

Let’s have coffee


I always appreciate constituents coming down to Olympia to visit. It is my pleasure to meet with you and hear about your concerns. When the 60-day legislative session concludes, I want to connect back in district. Feel free to reach out to my office to schedule a time to grab coffee and talk.


Due to election year restrictions, I will be limited in how I can communicate with you about what is going on in Olympia. Please be sure to subscribe to my newsletter if you already haven’t. You can also unsubscribe at anytime by clicking here. Feel free to share this with others that live in our district.

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