Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Before I share what's been happening in district, I want to extend my congratulations to Teri Hickel for defeating Rep. Carol Gregory, D-30th, Federal Way, in the election last Tuesday. Hickel's win means the Democrats' majority in the state House will shrink to 50-48, the smallest margin since 2002. I look forward to her joining the caucus! I also want to congratulate Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, on her decisive victory in the 9th District. Mary was appointed to the Legislature in May, but was required to run for election this year in order to keep her seat. She worked hard and won big. Election results will be certified by each county later this month.
The latest in the 13th District
I've been incredibly busy this interim traveling around the district, meeting with folks, and listening to their input on a variety of legislative matters. It's an honor for me to serve as state representative for the 13th, and I always enjoy sharing my legislative priorities. I was recently able to do this when I visited the Columbia Basin Tech Center to talk with students about my first year in the Legislature. iFiber One News ran a story about my visit with the students, which you can watch by clicking on this link.
In mid-October, I spent two days with members of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee touring the district. Day one of the tour was hosted by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, along with the Nature Conservancy. I attended a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife meeting in Ellensburg, where the DFW explained the new mule deer management plan proposal, which you can read about and comment on here. On the second day of the tour, we toured the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, looking at current forest health conditions and discussing possible solutions to improve overall forest health. We have already seen the benefit of selective logging, for example. On our tour, we were taken to an active logging operation and learned how logging techniques have changed to further protect the environment. We also discussed some innovative ways to protect houses and buildings from wildfires in the future. Finally, we toured the devastation from the 2014 fires. I am more motivated than ever to work on solutions that will help prevent destruction of such a mass scale.
On Oct. 15, I attended and spoke at the grand opening of the Wanapum Heritage Center, which is located next to the Wanapum Dam on the Columbia River. In 1956, the Wanapum and Grant County PUD made an agreement, and as a result, the GCPUD promised to maintain and protect the Wanapum way of life. The heritage center and museum is a great way to honor that agreement, and visitors can view historical artifacts and watch videos of Wanapum history. It was an honor to be a part of the grand opening and to celebrate the rich past of the Wanapum. To learn more about the museum, click here.
Later that afternoon, I traveled to Quincy for an open house and tour of Sabey's Intergate data center facility. This $500 million, 135,000 square-foot facility is proof that tax incentives work. Had it not been for tax incentives passed by the Legislature, the facility would have been built in Texas instead. We need to continue to do everything we can as a legislative body to encourage innovation, investment and job creation here in our great state.
As I reported in an earlier update, fair funding was cut by more than 40 percent during the 2015 legislative session. I recently attended the annual Washington State Fairs Association Convention in Pasco to get an update from WSFA leaders on their priorities, as well as their outlook for the upcoming year. Fortunately, funding has since been restored to its full amount. County fairs are vital to rural communities because they bring us together and have so much to offer our young people. We are blessed with great people working hard to keep our fairs going. Remember to support your local fair!
During the 2015 session, I introduced House Bill 1888, which would transfer all of the responsibilities of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) regarding certification of chemical dependency treatment programs to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). The primary reason for doing this is to make state government more efficient, streamline regulation, and reduce costs associated with chemical dependency treatment programs. I'm continuing to work to see this important bill passed during the 2016 session.
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.