Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2017 legislative session is now underway and I am a couple of weeks into my second term. The opening ceremonies were a great reminder of what an incredible honor it is to be in Olympia representing the folks of the 13th District and Washington state.
While the first week was busy with the swearing-in ceremony, the governor's State of the State address, and the inaugural ball, it was still 0-60 m.p.h. in no time flat when the session got underway. Our days have been filled with committee hearings, constituent meetings, working on legislation and many other things. I truly enjoy the work I do on your behalf and I appreciate you sending me back to Olympia.
I will be serving on two committees this year, both of which relate to issues of which I am very passionate. I will be serving as the ranking Republican on the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee. As the “ranking Republican” I am the lead voice for the caucus on the committee and I will work with the chair on the committee agenda. The committee reviews legislation and issues relating to early learning, as well as a broad range of issues affecting children and families, including foster care, children's mental health, child welfare services, at-risk youth, juvenile justice and many more. I served on this committee last year and it is a great fit for me.
I will also be serving as the assistant ranking Republican on the House Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee. The committee reviews issues related to agricultural production, forest practices, forest fire protection, and water – all issues I have worked on in the past or am working on right now.
Since I have been in Olympia, one of my passions has been to develop solutions to prevent devastating wildfires in our state. As part of that effort I put together, and chair, a bipartisan Wildfire Caucus. Last Thursday we met with newly-elected Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz. The meeting went well and she is promoting “open and often” lines of communication with legislators. Commissioner Franz is receptive to many of the things we are working on to promote our forest health and combat wildfires such as prescribed burning, stronger interagency partnerships, proactive instead of reactive solutions. I am very encouraged.
Improving mobilization of state fire services
While we continue to develop solutions on preventing devastating wildfires, we also need to be proactive in our response once wildfires start. My House Bill 1019 expands the definition of “mobilization” so we can have our state resources and services in position before a wildfire starts, rather than be reactionary and scrambling to line up resources as the fire grows. Every second counts when wildfires and emergencies hit and by having the resources in place beforehand we could be saving property, natural resources and most importantly – lives. My bill has bipartisan support and received a public hearing last week. The House Public Safety Committee is scheduled to vote on it later this week.
Modifying grants for airports
My bill to modify the maximum amount for grants provided to airports and air navigation facilities had a public hearing the first week of session and has already been passed by the House Transportation Committee. House Bill 1018 would increase the allowable grant amount that the Department of Transportation may provide for general aviation projects through the Airport Aid Grant Program from $250,000 to $750,000. The maximum grant amount has not been changed in 35 years.
We have a fantastic Page Program in the House of Representatives. If you know a student who would like to serve as a page, have them get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To serve as a page, a student must have permission from a parent or guardian, and his or her school, be at least 14 years of age and not have reached his or her 17th birthday. Paging is a paid position – $35 per day. To learn more about the program, click here.
Keep in touch
There are a number of ways you can stay in touch during the legislative session. Below are some links and websites to follow my work, as well as the Legislature. These links are good resources to stay involved in your state government.
- Capitol Buzz: A daily electronic clip service of House Republicans. Click here to subscribe.
- Capitol Report: My weekly three-minute radio program, or podcast, on important issues I'm working on in Olympia. Click here to listen to current and previous podcasts. You can also listen via iTunes and Google Play.
- Check out my Website: www.representativetomdent.com. From this link, you can get more information about me, the bills I've sponsored and view my news releases as well as current and past e-newsletters.
- Photos: Access my photo gallery here.
- TVW: The state's own version of C-Span, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live. You can also watch on your computer, smartphone or tablet: www.tvw.org
- Legislature's Website: You can get bill reports, track legislation, view committee agendas and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature at: www.leg.wa.gov.
If you would like to get in touch with me with any questions, thoughts or concerns or if you are going to be in Olympia, please don't hesitate to send me an email at email@example.com or give me a call at (360) 786-7932. I look forward to hearing from you!