Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2019 session opened Monday, Jan. 14. It's a busy time, with committee schedules, meeting with constituents and writing bills. However, it is such a great honor to be here in Olympia as your voice, representing the vast and great 9th Legislative District.
COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS ALIGN WITH 9TH DISTRICT INTERESTS
This year, I have been assigned to four House committees. They include:
- Appropriations – This is the committee that considers fiscal issues and the state operating budget. We'll be working to write a budget that will keep state government operating for the next two years.
- Capital budget – This committee considers the state capital budget, which approves money for the construction and repair of public buildings, acquisition of land for parks and other infrastructure projects. I will be working to make sure our local communities are not overlooked when it comes to water and sewer projects. I will also be seeking funding for fish hatchery enhancements along the Snake River.
- Environment and energy – Much of the governor's climate change request legislation will be coming through this committee. I have been named to a leadership position as assistant ranking Republican on this committee. The 9th District is in the hub of the state's energy belt, with hydro, nuclear, wind and solar. I will be using my voice to defend against breaching Snake River dams, which would have little impact on saving Puget Sound orcas.
- Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources – As the owner of a dryland wheat farm, I bring the voice of the farmer to the table. Agriculture is my life. We need to defend and foster the ability of our hardworking farmers to make a living without government roadblocks.
2019 SESSION PRIORITIES
I was honored to join my seatmates, Sen. Mark Schoesler and Rep. Joe Schmick, to co-author an article that appeared in this week's East Washingtonian newspaper in Pomeroy. Entitled, “Bringing your voice to the state Capitol,” we wrote about expectations in the 2019 session and the work you have sent us to do. You can read that article here.
This year, I have three specific goals through legislation:
- Expand broadband to every corner of Washington and the state to spur economic development. I was the lead sponsor of legislation last year (read about it here) that allowed port districts to build infrastructure. In addition to introducing a bill this year that would create a funding source for additional broadband, I am working with Gov. Inslee and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to ensure no part of our state is without internet access.
- Develop additional water infrastructure in the Odessa Subarea of the Columbia Basin where aquifer water levels are in serious decline. I invite you to read about my efforts in this article of the Lewiston Tribune.
- Wildfire suppression that would provide authority of local fire departments to deploy air support in the initial attack.
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve the 9th District
Look at that beautiful photo of the Lewiston/Clarkston Valley! We are so fortunate to live in the 9th District!
In every vote I take in Olympia, I think of the people back home. Between the Snake and Columbia rivers, from the Tri-Cities north across the wheat fields of the Palouse, through WSU in Pullman to Spokane, we have a diverse population living in some of the most beautiful energy and agricultural rich lands in Washington. I am humbled by the responsibility of protecting and enriching our Eastern Washington lifestyle.
I invite you to come visit me at the state Capitol. I'd like to thank all who made the long trip and dropped by my office. Here are just a few of the many people I've seen since session began:
- Sharon Adolphson and the Benton Franklin Parent Council;
- Mark Leeper and Davi Kallman of Pullman, and Sheila Turner of Pasco on behalf of the Washington Council of Independent Living;
- Garfield County Commissioner Bob Johnson;
- Daniella Clark, Pullman (discussing services for individuals with traumatic brain injury);
- Public school employees Val Watkins and Charlotte Schindler;
- Othello Mayor Shawn Logan;
- Columbia Basin College President Rebekah Woods;
- Pullman, Franklin County (District 3) and Spokane Fire Departments;
- Also many thanks to the Washington Policy Center for its live video conference with citizens in the Tri-Cities.
If you would like to visit the Capitol, please call my office. Also, please contact me any time you have questions, comments or suggestions about legislation and state government. My contact information is below.