Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Can you believe it's already fall? Time sure does fly. Since the final gavel closed the 2019 session, I've been home, hard at work for you. I've spent the summer traveling around the district meeting with stakeholders, attending meetings and events, taking tours, and listening and learning about the issues that matter most to you. These conversations and visits help me do a better job representing you in Olympia.
In this email update, I'll highlight some of the work I've been doing during the last several months and give you a glimpse into my priorities as we start to gear up for the 2020 session.
Out-and-about throughout the 16th District
Interim, also known as the period between legislative sessions, gives me the opportunity to spend time out-and-about in our beautiful region of Washington state. This allows me to get a good handle on how the decisions we make in Olympia are impacting you, your family, and your business.
Here are a few of the tours I've had the pleasure of participating in.
- Editorial board tour with our local media including: Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, Waitsburg Times, KTEL Radio, KONA Radio, and KEPR-TV. Fostering a positive and proactive relationship with our local media is a high priority of mine. They play such an important role in providing you with the information you need to stay informed on our legislative work in Olympia. It was great to sit down with each of these syndicates and I look forward to our continued work together.
- Washington Food and Farming tour. This tour highlighted the importance of our unique area to grow numerous crops and potential areas for future vineyards. We also toured the canal system fed by the Columbia River. We followed up the day with a tour of the Basin City dairy.
- Benton County Wheat Growers and WSU's Wheat Test Plot tour. The discussion during this tour surrounded what continued efforts and measures are needed to deal with diseases that affects our regions wheat crop, including regulations involving spraying of crops to keep them healthy. We also discussed irrigation water issues around the Horse Heaven Hills area.
- Snake River/Ice Harbor Dam tour. The removal of our dams is definitely a “hot topic” issue throughout our district, and all of eastern Washington. Our tour highlighted how important these dams are to our agricultural industry, including irrigation and food production; how imperative they are in helping with salmon recovery and fish passage; power production; and the transportation of goods and services via barge.
- Port of Walla Walla tour. This discussion gave me the opportunity to tour the Port and meet with business partners to discuss their legislative priorities as we head into the 2020 session.
These are just a handful of tours and meetings I've had during the interim. I appreciate having the opportunity to meet with everyone in-person. Thank you to everyone who took the time to speak with me, and those who made these tours happen.
Other interim legislative and committee work
During the interim, we're selected to serve on several statutory committees. These bipartisan committees help inform legislation and state policy for future legislative sessions. I serve on the following:
- Legislative Committee on Economic Development and International Relations. This committee provides responsive and consistent involvement in economic development with emphasis on international trade, tourism, investment and industrial development. This committee assists the Legislature in developing comprehensive economic development policy.
- Washington Tourism Marketing Authority Board of Directors. The Board of Directors contracts for statewide tourism marketing services promote and enhance tourism throughout the state.
- Community Economic Revitalization Board. The Board's objectives are to: strengthen the economies of areas of the state which have experienced chronically high unemployment rates or below average growth in their economies; encourages the diversification of the economies of the state in order to provide greater seasonal and cyclical stability of income and employment; encourages wider access to financial resources for both large and small industrial development projects; and to encourage new economic development or expansions to maximize employment.
- Washington-Hyogo Friendship Council. This council promotes friendship and exchange with Hyogo Prefecture.
It's an honor to be a member of so many diverse economic-based committees and boards to help build and sustain a robust economy throughout Washington state. These opportunities are so important to our region, especially our efforts surrounding tourism.
A glimpse into the 2020 session
Even though Olympia has long been in my rearview mirror, the time is near for it to reappear in the windshield. Recently, lawmakers convened at the Capitol for what is known as Committee Assembly Days. This is our starting point to reconvene in our standing committees and begin the framework for the issues we'll be hearing during the 2020 session.
I serve on the following committees and here's a few issues we will likely see on the table:
- House Capital Budget Committee. We will be working on the supplemental capital budget. This is the state's infrastructure improvement and construction budget.
- House Commerce and Gaming Committee. We will be working on issues surrounding the regulation of commerce in alcohol, tobacco and cannabis. We will also work on issues surrounding regulation and oversight of our state's gaming industry and the impacts to our tribes.
- House Housing, Community Development and Veterans Committee. I'm proud to serve as the ranking Republican on this committee. We will be working on issues surrounding affordable housing, especially around lack of supply and availability; condo conversions; and shaping and reforming tax policy.
Speaking of the 2020 session – did you know the House of Representatives has a page and intern program? These programs are a great way to keep our youth involved in their state government and receive hands-on experience in civic education. If you have a child in school who would be interested in these programs, please visit this link for more information: http://leg.wa.gov/House/Pages/PageandInternPrograms.aspx.
Stay in touch!
I'm your state representative year-round. Please reach out to my office to set up an appointment, to arrange a speaking opportunity, or to ask any questions you may have. My Legislative Assistant, Marge, is happy to assist you.
It's an honor to serve you.