Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This past Friday, the governor declared the capital gains tax proposal put forth by House Democrats has been taken off the table. If that remains the case throughout the remainder of budget negotiations, that would be fantastic news for the taxpayers of Washington state. As you know, House Democrats started negotiations by pushing for $1.5 billion in new taxes. The fact that number could end up at zero is a huge win for those of us who believe new taxes would stifle economic growth and investment.
House Democrat and Senate Republican budget leaders will continue to meet during this last week of the second special session, which is scheduled to end Saturday evening. There is just a small gap remaining between the two budget proposals. We are close to finding the middle ground and passing a budget that makes historic investments in our schools, improves our mental health system, reduces college tuition, and more.
Meeting with DNR to discuss wildfire suppression efforts
Last week, I attended a meeting with fellow House Republicans and officials from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to discuss DNR's 2015-17 operating budget request to combat wildfires.
There is a good chance many areas in the state will see a severe wildfire season because of extreme drought conditions. DNR's request is for $10.6 million for the 2015-17 operating budget, which would cover funding for pre-suppression efforts. Specifically, funds would go toward staff, firefighters, training, dispatch systems, prevention, outreach, fire response, and more.
The meeting was very productive, and I am hopeful DNR's budget request will be fully funded, as wildfire preparation and management is vital to so many in the state.
Dr. Elson Floyd, president of WSU, passes away
I was very saddened to learn of the passing of Washington State University President Dr. Elson Floyd Saturday morning. Dr. Floyd was a remarkable man and a beloved member of the WSU and Pullman community. He was a visionary, who helped lead the effort during the 2015 legislative session to create a medical school at WSU. While I never had the opportunity to work with Dr. Floyd, I know he was deeply respected by my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. His legacy will not be forgotten, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and the entire WSU community at this time.
In lieu of flowers, Dr. Floyd's family has suggested memorial gifts be made to the Elson S. Floyd Founders Fund for the WSU College of Medicine.
Touring Inland Empire Paper Company
Last week, I had the opportunity to tour Inland Empire Paper Company (IEP), which manufactures high-quality newsprint and specialty paper products. The company has continuously operated in Millwood since 1911 and currently supplies paper to more than 120 customers in the western United States. Beyond supplying paper, IEP is working with scientists and companies from the 9th District to see if the byproduct from their manufacturing facility can be utilized on agricultural lands.
On the top left is a photo of single stream recycling. On the top right, paper in one of IEP's warehouses is being pre-sorted to remove foil and plastic. On the bottom left is a photo of chips being delivered to a pulp machine. On the bottom right is an innovative algae nutrient digester that could help make agricultural lands more fertile and productive for farmers.
Pomeroy Pioneer Day and Tumbleweed Festival
I recently attended the annual Pioneer Day and Tumbleweed Festival in my home town of Pomeroy. The festivities are always a lot of fun, and really bring our community together. Events this year included an all-Pomeroy high school class reunion, the Tumbleweed “Wine & Stein,” a three-person scramble golf tournament, and the Pioneer Parade on Main St., which featured old tractors from the Eastern Washington Agricultural Museum. My daughter Megan and I rode our Connemara Ponies in the parade, where Megan won best equestrian exhibit. Megan is the current National Vaulting Champion and was the 2014 High Point Vaulter in her division. I couldn't be prouder of her hard work.
Freedom Foundation radio appearance
I appeared on the Freedom Foundation's “Freedom Daily” radio program last week to discuss my time so far in the Legislature. Here is the link (skip to 15:04) to listen to the interview. Thank you to the host, Ron Valencia, for having me on!
Please continue to contact me with any comments, questions or concerns you may have. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is (360) 786-7942. Please also feel free to share my email updates with your family, friends and neighbors, and encourage them to subscribe. They can do so by clicking here.
It is an honor to serve you in the state House of Representatives.