Thank you for visiting my website. Please feel free to look around to learn more about my background, my work in Olympia on behalf of the 17th District, and the issues that are important to me. Come back soon to check for updates or follow me on Facebook.
I'm honored to be serving our community.
Back in 1993 after me and thousands of other supporters collected enough signatures to put Initiative 593 on the ballot to enact the “three strikes you’re out” law, voters had one thing in mind – to take repeat offenders that have no interest in changing their behavior, off the streets for good. The initiative has had great success, reducing crime rates by nearly 5% in its first two years alone! This proved that the three strikes rule did in fact act as a deterrent in reducing repeat offenses at the risk of being committed to life in prison.
Unfortunately there were some loose ends in the law that neutered its application to repeat offenders that committed crimes outside of our state’s borders. The Chelsea Harrison Act fixes this. No longer will judges have the discretion to not enact the three strikes rule if one or more of the offenses occurred in a different state.
Chelsea’s grandmother, Sylvia Johnson is quoted stating “My granddaughter was violently murdered by a third strike offender who was out of prison because of a loophole in the law that was created by a court decision. Senator Benton fixed the law to ensure no family suffers the pain we did.”
We must be proactive in reforming our legislation to help clarify the laws on the books to serve the purpose they were initially created to enforce, and to keep our liberal courts from watering down our crime laws.
Last session, one of my highest priorities was focusing on ways to reduce the tax burden on our seniors, vets, and those with disabilities. I am happy to report that I helped lead a push that successfully increased the property tax exemption limit for Washingtonians that fit any of those qualifications. We were able to increase the limit by $5,000 – upping the amount from $35,000 and below to $40,000 and below, which provides real property tax relief to those that need it most.
Don & Sue Sargent of Vancouver said “It’s tough for seniors living on a fixed income as food and healthcare costs go up. Thanks to Senator Benton, seniors will be able to stay in their home.” We need to continue looking for ways to ensure our veterans, seniors, and disabled members of our community have the resources to best care for themselves, and continue being able to reside in the communities they call home and continue to be able to live out their lives in their own home.
Property tax growth will continue to be a major concern of mine, we have to be sure people can stay in their own homes even after they retire.
Senate Republicans here in Washington State have successfully accomplished something no other state in the nation has been able to do. We reduced college tuition! Not only did we reduce it, we reduced it substantially – by 15%!
Reducing tuition in the current political environment in this state wasn’t an easy task. It took every Republican Senate member to drive the message home that we were serious about making this bill come to fruition.
A constituent of mine, Clay Paris wrote “Because of Don Benton’s vote to lower college tuition, I’ll be able to pursue my dreams and attend WSU-Vancouver this year”
I hope to continue hearing feedback from residents in our district, to ensure this legislation is being effective in increased enrollment with a lower financial burden on students in our state.
Happy New Years! When I looked at the calendar this morning, I could hardly believe that we are already 12 days into the New Year. 2015 is already turning out to be a busy and fruitful year. It is also shocking to think that the 2015 legislative session begins this week—but I will talk more about the upcoming session later in this newsletter. First, I would like to share with you a few updates from the end of 2014.
I wanted to take a moment from your busy schedule to share some very exciting news.
This session I will be serving in key leadership roles on two important and influential senate committees. I am honored to have been selected to serve as the chairman of the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee and to be appointed to serve as one of two vice-chairs for the Transportation Committee.
I mentioned in my last newsletter to you I was organizing a trade and goodwill mission to Cambodia. The mission was very successful. Seven business owners and local government leaders, including myself, went on an 8 day mission to build both business and government relationships with the country (at absolutely no cost to Washington taxpayers). I am delighted to be back home and able to share with you the successes of the trip and the effect the trip will have on Washington’s future.
While working through my four year term after forming the bipartisan majority coalition in the state senate, I have focused on serving my constituents and staying active in my community. At my new assignment in Clark County I have been very busy saving taxpayers millions of dollars and working with my colleagues to clean up the Environmental Services Department which has been plagued by law suits and deficit spending.
Unfortunately, due to the recent increase of half truths and outright fabrications by local newspapers and online blogs, I simply must replenish my campaign resources and focus these resources on ensuring the truth is distributed. Many of you have supported me for years and once again, I need your help.
Let me explain.
It is hard to believe that our kids are back to school and the summer is coming to an end. What a summer it has been!
It seems like only yesterday we were wrapping up the 2014 Legislative session and it has been a busy interim. During the interim, I not only returned to my job as the Director of the Clark County Environmental Services, but I have continued my legislative duties by attending ground breakings, business events, community events and meeting with constituents. Most importantly, I have continued to address the important issues that face the 17th District and ensure our Government is running efficiently and being held accountable for their actions.
It is hard to believe that it is already August 13th. Time does truly fly when you are having fun and between my Legislative duties and my job at the Clark County Environmental Services Department, I have been traveling around Clark County visiting with constituents and having plenty fun at local fairs and festivals. Here is a quick update on what has been happening in the 17th District!
With the beautiful weather, things sure have been busy both in my legislative office and at the Clark County Department of Environmental Services. Summer weather means more community events, community development projects, and is a great time to explore the parks and beautiful destinations in Clark County!