Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I first want to thank you for subscribing to these updates. I really enjoy sharing my experiences with you, as well as providing my perspective on the many issues facing our district and state. Please feel free to share these updates with family members and friends, and encourage them to subscribe to future updates by clicking this link.
13th District media tour
I recently had the opportunity to travel around the 13th District with Sen. Warnick and Rep. Manweller to visit our local newspapers. Meeting with editors and reporters, we discussed the successes and challenges of the 2015 legislative session, and also provided a preview of our goals for the upcoming 2016 session. I was proud to pass several bills this year that will help folks in our district and state. If you have some thoughts on legislation that would make a positive difference in our communities, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me. My contact information is at the bottom of this email.
Meeting with the editor of The Royal Register, Ted Escobar, to discuss the 2015 legislative session and my priorities for the upcoming session
The state Supreme Court oversteps its bounds
The state Supreme Court has made waves over the past couple of months, and not for good reasons. First, in mid-August, the court began fining the Legislature $100,000 a day because it said the state had failed to adequately fund K-12 education during the 2015 session. This, despite the fact we increased spending on K-12 education by 19 percent to make education spending 47 percent of the entire operating budget. In fact, since the state Supreme Court's McCleary decision in 2012, lawmakers have increased state spending on public schools by more than $4.5 billion – a 32 percent increase. Regardless, we must address the court's ruling during the 2016 session.
In another decision, the court ruled that voter-approved charter schools are unconstitutional. Their decision has been devastating to the more than 1,000 Washington students who are enrolled in charter schools, and has put the parents of these children in a very difficult position. Democratic State Attorney General Bob Ferguson recently filed a motion to the court to reconsider its ruling, which I applaud him for. It remains to be seen what the court will do.
In both of its rulings, I believe the court overstepped. These decisions undermined the Legislature's authority and the authority of the voters.
100 percent of our state remains in drought
With 100 percent of Washington state in drought, including 68 percent in 'extreme' drought, the Legislature earlier this year allocated $16 million for the 2015-17 biennium to help reduce or eliminate hardships due to the emergency. The 2015 Drought Emergency Grant Program is now accepting grant applications, which means funding is now available to cities, towns, counties, special purpose districts and tribal entities. Click here to learn more about the available grant funds.
As you know, one of my top priorities is working to help manage and preserve our water, which is vital to our state's economic growth. I am proud to have been recently appointed to the Interim Task Force on Washington Waters by House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen. The task force was created through the capital budget, and is made up of five Democratic members and five Republican members. We will continue to meet during the interim to look at three primary areas of focus: storm water, flood control, and water supply infrastructure in the state. We need to continue to develop good ideas and solutions that will help preserve, store and supply our most vital natural resource.
Progress of the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East project
I wanted to get an up-close look at the progress being made on the major I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East project that got underway in 2009. According to WSDOT, 28,000 vehicles travel over Snoqualmie Pass on a daily basis, with that number doubling on weekends and holidays. The goal of the project is to increase both capacity and safety on the fifteen-mile stretch from Hyak to Easton by:
- Adding a new lane in each direction;
- Replacing deteriorating concrete pavement;
- Reducing road closures due to avalanches;
- Adding and replacing bridges and culverts;
- Straightening sharp curves; and
- Stabilizing rock slopes.
One of the most interesting aspects of the project is how WSDOT is replacing the I-90 snowshed, which until last year had been in place for 64 years. In March 2013, the Federal Highway Administration and WSDOT approved a plan to remove the snowshed and build two new avalanche bridges. According to WSDOT, the bridges are being constructed to “take traffic over a series of engineered avalanche paths designed to direct sliding snow, rock and debris between the bridge piers and toward Keechelus Lake.” This phase of the project is scheduled to be completed in fall 2018, along with the rest of the project. I continue to be amazed by the ingenuity of our engineers.
Citizenship Day at Big Bend Community College
Last month, my wife and I joined Sen. Warnick at Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake to attend Citizenship Day, a free event to help current legal permanent residents apply for U.S. citizenship. It is always inspiring to hear the stories of those who love this country and want to become American citizens. It is a very lengthy and expensive process for many to go through, so I applaud the volunteer immigration attorneys, paralegals, interpreters and others who were available to provide help to more than 70 people seeking to become citizens.
Recent parades in the 13th
Since my last update, I've attended parades in Ellensburg, Roslyn, Odessa, Thorp, Warden, Quincy and Harrington. I always enjoy traveling around the district and attending parades, rodeos, festivals, etc. and meeting with you all. Below is a photo at the parade and logging show in Roslyn.
Attending the annual aerial application fly-in
Over my three-decade career as an aerial applicator, a major focus and priority of mine was figuring out how to improve the integrity of our pesticide spray patterns and how to reduce drift. Last month, pilots from all over our district came together to discuss these matters. Out of the box thinking is a necessity when solving problems, and I have been able to develop a couple of products to help applicator pilots do a better job applying pesticides while reducing drift potential. One is a nozzle tip that increases droplet size, reducing drift by increasing deposition of the finished spray mixture. The other is a one-boom shutoff system that uses the propeller's rotation to move the spray away from the center of the aircraft. This enables pilots to spray closer to a neighboring susceptible crop, providing a better service to the ag producer. The goal of all aerial applicators is to protect crops (which increases our food supply) while protecting our environment. These annual meetings are important to achieving this goal, and I want to thank everyone who flew in to attend this professional gathering.
Please continue to contact me with any comments, questions or concerns you have. My email address is email@example.com and my phone number is (509) 766-6682 at my district office in Moses Lake.