Three of the 18 questions from the public that Rep. David Taylor and Rep. Bruce Chandler answered during their telephone town hall last night were about gun control.
Two callers were interested in what the representatives think will happen to the second amendment and the right to bear arms. Chandler said he doesn't think the second amendment is in any real danger from any order made by the President.
"I know that there's a lot of talk about the President taking executive action, you know, issuing executive orders and things," Chandler said.
"I suspect that those would be immediately taken to court and would be challenged. They wouldn't take effect for quite a long time. And I personally have a hard time seeing how they could withstand a court challenge. I don't see how the Supreme Court would accept that."
He also didn't think legislative action will result in banning guns.
"I suspect that a lot of the legislative proposals, to be quite honest, are probably not going to pass and go to the President," he said. "It's really difficult to tell. I think that any action to minimize or restrict the second amendment probably would create such a public protest across the country that it wouldn't last very long."
Taylor addressed the issue at a state level and was also optimistic that regulation of firearms is unlikely to occur.
"Thus far we haven't seen any specific proposals come through either the house or the senate dealing with the second amendment, banning or registering of firearms," Taylor said. "I participated in the second amendment rally here in Olympia on Saturday, it was really well attended. With the weather the way it was I was pretty happy to see the number of people who were there."
Taylor agreed with Chandler that the public will not tolerate limits on the second amendment.
"I think that the message that the general public and the voters are sending is loud and clear: that the second amendment is precious to them," said Taylor. "And I as one legislator will do everything I can do over here to protect it."
Another caller asked if Washington state is considering putting armed guards in schools in reaction to the recent Sandy Hook shooting. The representatives said discussion is underway.
"I've heard no specific proposals brought forward as of yet," said Taylor. "There are a lot of people with different opinions on that."
Chandler said that Yakima Valley school districts are reviewing their security procedures.
"There may be some relatively modest things we can do to protect children," said Chandler.
In a live poll, callers were asked what, of six options, should be the most important priority for the legislature. When the votes were tallied, 173 people had voted. Of them, 27 percent said jobs and the economy are the top issue. Another 21 percent said taxes followed by 20 percent that chose health care. Both the state budget and education received 12 percent of the vote and the lowest percentage, 8 percent, said public safety was their top concern.
Taylor also spoke a little about his new position on the appropriations committee.
"I'm enjoying it. It's a brand new look, for me, at kind of the nuances that go into preparing a budget," he said. He also said he's afraid that tax increases are on the table despite newly sworn in Gov. Jay Inslee's promise not to raise taxes.
"We've met six times and during the opening couple of days when we were reviewing the governor's proposed budget, the vast majority of people testifying basically said 'we appreciate what the governor did, but we need more money' and the only way to achieve that is either tax increases or prioritize spending," he said. "Unfortunately in Olympia, 'prioritize spending' doesn't happen. So the push is then going to be toward tax increases."
He said the two-thirds majority requirement to raise taxes has limited the proposals so far, but if the Supreme Court rules against the two-thirds voting requirement by legislators, people should expect to see more tax increase proposals from the legislature.
Chandler noted that the legislature has a lot of new members this year.
"We're cautiously optimistic," he said. "Bringing new people in sometimes brings in a really refreshing perspective. In the Senate there is a philosophical coalition that is in the majority and it's a bipartisan coalition so that changes the dynamic significantly and I'm optimistic that will help to produce better legislation," Chandler said.
Other callers asked for a variety of information. One caller asked for a bill that declares life to begin at conception, which Taylor said has already been submitted by a representative from Lynden. Another caller asked for the representatives' position on legalizing marijuana. Chandler said the initiative is the law and will take some time to implement.
Other questions ranged from concerns about the new national health care plan to reducing taxes on small businesses.
Both Chandler and Taylor noted that the state's revenues are projected to be about $2 billion higher this year than last year.
"We're actually going to be making decisions about how to spend more money than two years ago, not less, and there really is no reason to have to raise taxes," said Chandler.
Both representatives urged constituents in the 15th District to contact them with concerns or questions, by telephone, e-mail or regular mail.
To contact Chandler, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, call 360-786-7960 or toll-free 800-562-6000 or write to Rep. Bruce Chandler, P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504-0600.
To contact Taylor, e-mail email@example.com, call 360-786-7874 or toll-free 800-562-6000 or write to Rep. David Taylor, P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504-0600.