Rep. Jason Overstreet’s Record

By Riley SweeneyOn Oct 02, 2012

Writer's Note: I did a blow-by-blow analysis of both Overstreet's and Buys' legislative record on my blog, The Political Junkie and decided to share them with the NWCitizen readers as well. I hope to do one for the Democratic candidates in the next week.

Over the last couple of months, I have been poring over Rep. Jason Overstreet's voting record and I am having a hard time writing about it. Why, you ask? Because usually I try to inject a little levity into my political writing and frankly, there is nothing funny about Overstreet's record. In fact, it is downright troubling.

Sure there are the usual Republican votes to cut social services, his votes to gut education funding and disenfranchise working people of their rights, I expected all that. I even expected the circular logic argument of biblical authority he used to vote against marriage equality. What horrified me was the sheer number of votes against bills that were just common sense.

For instance in 2011, State Senator Scott White (D-Seattle) introduced a bill that would target violence toward the homeless. The bill (SB 5011) was in response to the killing of David Ballenger, who was beaten to death under a freeway overpass by a gang of teenagers. He was targeted because he was homeless. White’s legislation, in layman's terms, would have added “thought they were homeless” to the list of reasons of aggravated assault. The bill sailed through the Senate with an unanimous vote (49-0), but when it came to the House, Rep. Jason Overstreet was the sole vote against. The bill was promptly signed into law by Gov. Gregoire and now we can better protected our most vulnerable from assault.

But this wasn't the only example of Rep. Overstreet's extreme record. On March 23rd of 2011, he voted against a bill that would have helped ensure our children's health. Washington state has one of the highest percentages of non-immunized children in school, and this bill (ESB 5005) would have strengthened the requirements you need to meet if you want to exempt your children from getting immunizations. Shorter version, he wanted to make it easier for sick kids to go to school. This bill had bipartisan support and sailed through both chambers but not before Rep. Overstreet could vote against it. You can watch him rail against it on video here.

Next was his vote against protecting our children from lead paint-coated toys. A bill was introduced (EHB 2821) that would have prohibited the production and sale of children's toys with harmful levels of toxins. That was too much government interference with private enterprise for Rep. Overstreet, he voted against it on April 6th of this year. He won't even stand up to protect our children from toxic toys? You can see how I was having difficulty approaching this post, it was just too horrifying to tackle.

If Rep. Overstreet believes all these bills are worth squashing, what does he believe government should be doing? I looked at the bills he has sponsored in the time he has been in Olympia, and it is pretty disappointing. In his time in Olympia, Rep. Overstreet has been the primary sponsor of seven bills. Of those, only one was actually signed into law, a relatively benign piece of legislation (SHB 1145) dealing with mail theft that would make the possession of stolen mail a crime. Of the ones that didn't pass, there was a bill that would set up a standard time for legislative sessions to begin (HB 1207), and a bill to change the maximum vehicle length from 40ft to 46ft (HB 2430)

Beyond that was a string of rather alarming bills. There was a bill that would mandate the government compensate private citizens for government action that changed the value of their private property (HB 1671). While a good idea in theory, the sheer volume of payouts, calculations and complexities would easily bankrupt our state. There was a bill concerning how the state deals with unlawful detentions (HB 2759) that I am pretty sure violated federal authority, and another bill about cottage farms (HB 2551). A cottage farm is basically a food packaging business run out of someone's kitchen, therefore bypassing a good chunk of health inspection and labor laws. Rep. Overstreet's bill would have removed the limit on gross sales so Wal-Mart could run it's entire packaging operation out of someone's kitchen.

And of course, there was the bill he co-sponsored and repeatedly brags about, the Gold and Silver Legal Tender Act of Washington State (HB 2731). This would allow you to pay your bills with gold coins. I wish I was joking, but no. This would exempt gold dealers from a good deal of tax and allow you to pay your garbage bill with whatever gold doubloons you happen to have handy. This is an easy one to poke fun at (Leprechaun Economics!) but I think the real issue is that Rep. Overstreet is wasting his time, and our taxpayer dollars, on issues that are not important. Where are the jobs? Where is the support for our industries up here? Where are the transportation dollars, or the education funding? Where are the efforts to protect our clean drinking water and ensure our economic future? If you look at the issues page on his campaign website, Jobs and the Economy aren't his top issues. In fact, they don't even crack the top three!

While I appreciate a protest vote here or there, we elected our representatives to do the people's work. That involves compromise, moderation and fighting for what's right for Whatcom County. If Rep. Overstreet wants to pontificate on constitutional principles, by all means, get a blog and talk. But we are paying your salary because we expect you to work, and your record shows that you aren't working for Whatcom County.

So this November, set aside the rhetoric and take a look at what your representatives have actually done. Based on Overstreet's record, I'll be voting for Natalie McClendon.

About Riley Sweeney

Past Writers • Member since Aug 10, 2009

Comments by Readers

Garin Wallace, aka Wally

Oct 02, 2012

How constructive are statements like the following that Riley Sweeney made about our two elected officials? 

gut education funding
disenfranchise working people of their rights
target violence toward the homeless.
voted to allow toxic toys to be imported into our state
voted against protecting our children from contagious diseases
he would turn his back on our vulnerable students
shielding child abusers

Disappointing to read this pair of hatchet jobs by Riley Sweeney on NW Citizen.  I would think you would have higher standards for your website than letting a Vice Chair of the Whatcom Democrats use your space in an attempt to smear the opposing party candidates.


Riley Sweeney

Oct 02, 2012

First of all, I always link the bill so you can go there yourself and decide how you would characterize their votes.

If you rather, I could have said “repeatedly vote against funding our educational system” but “gut education” is shorter and I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time. How would you characterize a vote allowing toxic toys to be imported from China? Is there a nice way to say that Rep. Buys voted down a bill that could prevent the next Jerry Sandusky scandal?

Really, with a record this extreme, I felt like I was gentle compared to the damage their votes have caused.

Finally, NWCitizen is home to a whole variety of various opinion where people can discuss and debate. That’s one of the things that I treasure about this site. I appreciate the opportunity John has granted me to share my research.


Tip Johnson

Oct 02, 2012

I’m OK with “gut education” as compared with “repeatedly vote against funding our educational system”.

Northwest Citizen is, after all, where citizens publish their opinions.  Of course, opinions are always more interesting when accompanied by evidence and examples, but here it is Wally, not Riley, that disappoints.

As for standards, Riley achieves a high standard of editorial opinion, which of course has oft been referred to as the lowest form of journalism. If you came to an opinion page looking for fair and balanced reporting, you’re lost.  For that you should read the Herald or watch Fox News, if you get my point.

In my humble opinion, it would all be much more interesting if we got to hear Wally’s perspective and see his evidence instead of just getting a bunch of grousing. Petree laid it out and caused some decent exchange.  Come on, Wally, tell us what you like about Riley’s hatchet victims and how they serve the public good!


Garin Wallace, aka Wally

Oct 03, 2012

I didn’t write the comment to address the merits of one position or another on a piece of legislation or even a candidate.  I wrote the comment to address the methodology and possible motivation of the writer and it’s effect on the integrity of NW Citizen. 

In my opinion, the author himself didn’t present an argument for or against a piece of legislation; he presented a series of thought terminating clichés, such as gutting education and protecting our children, in an attempt to dehumanize his party’s political opponents.  That is what I felt was below the standard of NW Citizen, but I may have been wrong about the level of that standard.


John Servais

Oct 03, 2012

Wally is worried about the integrity of NWCitizen??  Wally, if you pay attention to what you write on NWCitizen, then that is just fine with me.  I think Riley is one of the best political commentators we have in Whatcom County - and if you want to tangle with him on NWCitizen then go for it. Don’t worry about any “integrity”.  I’m not worried about it.

So, Wally,  - just what is your evidence?


Wendy Harris

Oct 04, 2012

Riley’s opinion is informed by Overstreet’s voting record.  No one disputes the facts that he relies upon, and he has done the public a great service by reporting this information at a time when it is extremely relevant.


Rob Stratton

Dec 02, 2012

As soon as you see anybody’s use of subjective words such as “extreme” in describing someone else’s politics or opinions you already know it’s simple demagoguery. A political tactic use by both the pseudo right and the pseudo left. I don’t know overstreet and have as much love of Republican’s version of social fascism as I do for democrat’s.

I would not support another “hate crime” bill that elevates or singles out and elevates the value of certain “classes” of individuals. A rich, white , christian, right wing (fascist) republican’s life holds the same value to me as a poor, person of color, atheistic, left wing (fascist) democrat’s life.

The government mandates and steals money for public education and then whines about families personal beliefs that may “harm” others in the institution?

Couldn’t read bill on lead paint. I personal belief more laws are not the solution to human problems, we have a court system and a market system to punish those who harm us.

Isn’t stealing mail already a crime? Another unnecessary law.

Well maybe government should shrink and stop unconstitutional takings that devalue property.

Again I couldn’t read the detention one. But the constitution enumerates Federal Powers. I have been unlawfully detained it sucks. I wish police unions and the state would stop protecting cops who violate civil rights.

Couldn’t read the the cottage bill, but the attack on Wal-mart was obvious, why are you against a company that makes things affordable and provides jobs for the poor?

Why would anybody be against paying another person with something of value over fiat money that is continually inflated? Other than fiat money and it’s inflation is a hidden tax stealing wealth from the citizenry.

The only way to help the economy is for politicians to stop messing with our lives.

I expect politicians to follow what is delegated them in Article One section One.

I say let’s set aside the rhetoric too but then not substitute it for more rhetoric of a different flavor.




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