Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The majority parties in the state House and Senate were unable to come to an agreement on three separate budgets before the April 26 deadline of the regular legislative session, so we are now in a special session. This will be the 11th special session in the past 10 years, which is very disappointing. While I am frustrated by the lack of progress that has been made on budget items thus far, I remain hopeful an agreement can be reached quickly.
Three budgets — the two-year state operating budget, a transportation budget (for roads, highways and transit), and a capital budget (for state buildings and local projects), are being negotiated. The biggest sticking point in the operating budget is the $1.5 billion in new and increased taxes the House Democrats have proposed. Senate Republicans maintain the Legislature can fully fund the state's obligations without raising taxes, so a compromise must be reached.
Aside from budget negotiations, there are still bills being heard in both chambers and signed into law by the governor. Two of my bills, House Bill 1527 and House Bill 1989, are currently awaiting the governor's signature. House Bill 1527 would provide a more efficient way for pesticide licensees to become recertified, and House Bill 1989 would allow municipalities to contract for asset management services for their water storage assets.
The Teanaway Community Forest management plan
Last week, the House Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee met with a variety of groups and agencies for a work session regarding the Teanaway Community Forest management plan. In 2013, Washington state paid nearly $100 million for 50,241 acres in the Teanaway River basin, which became the first state-managed community forest. The goal of the purchase was to protect a key segment of the Yakima River basin.
In approving the purchase, lawmakers directed the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to draft a forest management plan that would:
- Protect and enhance the water supply and protect the watershed;
- Maintain working lands for forestry and livestock grazing, while protecting watershed functions and habitat;
- Provide recreational opportunities consistent with watershed protection;
- Conserve and restore fish and wildlife habitat for fish and wildlife; and
- Support a strong community partnership in ongoing land management.
At the work session, we heard a draft of the plan and had productive conversations about what should be included in the final plan, which will be published in June.
In attendance at the work session were:
– Mathew Randazzo, Senior Advisor to the Commissioner of Public Lands, Department of Natural Resources
– Joe Stohr, Deputy Director for the Department of Fish and Wildlife
– Deborah Essman, President of Kittitas Field & Stream
– Gary Berndt, Kittitas County Commissioner
– Kitty Craig, Wilderness Society
– Andrea Imler, Washington Trail Association
– Jim Halstrom, Friends of the Teanaway
– Doug Schindler, Mountains to Sound Greenway
Kittitas County Commissioner Gary Berndt and Kittitas Field & Stream President Deborah Essman joined me for a photo in the legislative building after our work session
A visit from Congressman Dan Newhouse
Last week, Congressman Dan Newhouse, who represented the 15th District in the state House from 2003 to 2009, visited us in caucus and shared the latest from Washington D.C. Dan has been working on a lot of agricultural issues at the federal level, and wanted to get our feedback on ways we can best work together.
In the wings of the House floor with Congressman Newhouse and his wife Carol.
District office now open
Last week, my legislative assistant Marge Plumage opened up our district office in Moses Lake at the Moses Lake Municipal Airport. When I am not here in Olympia, that's where I'll be most of the time. If you would like to schedule a time to meet with me during the summer, please give Marge a call at (509) 766-6682. The office address is:
Moses Lake Municipal Airport
Attn: Rep. Tom Dent
11905 Rd. 4 NE #28
Moses Lake, WA 98837
I want to thank Marge for being the best legislative assistant in Olympia. I could not do my job as effectively without her.
I could not ask for a better legislative assistant than Marge Plumage.
Please feel free to get in touch with me with any comments, questions or concerns you may have regarding special session or anything else. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number in Olympia is (360) 786-7932. If you want to reach my district office, please call (509) 766-6682.
It is an honor to serve you in the state House of Representatives.