Dear Friends and Neighbors,
First, I want to say thank you for returning me to Olympia to represent the great people of the 13th District. It is an honor and privilege to represent you. We have many challenges ahead. I will do my best to ensure your voice is heard in the 2021 legislative session.
This will also be a session unlike any other. The 2021 Legislature will be a “virtual” or online session as we work to keep everyone safe and reduce the spread of COVID, while still accomplishing the people's business in Olympia. House facilities will remain closed to the public, and floor sessions and committee meetings will be held remotely.
With that being the case, my goal and that of my House Republican colleagues is to ensure an accountable and transparent process this session. I also encourage the public to not only participate when possible, but stay connected to the Legislature. I will share a number of ways to do that in this email update.
If you have any questions or concerns about the legislative process please do not hesitate to contact me. Your input and feedback is important to me.
My battle with COVID
In early October, I was exposed to the coronavirus. So I got tested and on Oct. 7, I found out I tested positive. Initially my symptoms were flu-like, sore muscles, headache and upset stomach. The first night, I had muscle pain like I have never experienced. Things improved over the next few days, and I thought I was on my way to recovery.
In fact, on Oct. 13, I visited my doctor and he said the worst seemed to be behind me. Then, about a week later, I became extremely sick. I made an appointment with my doctor for that afternoon. By the time I made it to the clinic, I was in terrible condition. I couldn't put a sentence together and was almost incoherent. The doctor had me transported to the hospital in an ambulance, and I was taken directly to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). I honestly felt that I was not going to make it. I was diagnosed with COVID pneumonia. I was there for three days and then moved to the floor for two more days. I had made dramatic progress and was released from the hospital on Oct. 26. I was feeling better every day. Then, about five days later, I was having issues with my lungs and was coughing a lot. On Nov. 3, I had a follow up visit with my doctor. He was concerned about possible blood clots in my lungs due to COVID and immediately sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. The scan confirmed blood clots and I was readmitted to the hospital again and sent to ICU. This time I stayed for three days before being released on Nov. 6. The virus is gone, but I am still not quite 100%.
I am sharing this story to let you know this virus is very real, and very deadly! However, we have reached a critical point. Are we making the cure worse than the disease? The governor's latest restrictions will be in place until at least Jan. 4, 2021. Living in a bubble and shutting everything down is not the answer. We can be safe and smart, without destroying our economy. The pandemic is not the only thing we are battling – mental health, suicide, bankruptcy, domestic violence, divorce and much more.
I have talked with numerous people in our community – business owners, farmers, educators, folks with children at home – and many are just hanging on. The stories are sad and heartbreaking. I have been on the radio sharing my experience with this virus and discussing these concerns. I also recently submitted a column to the Columbia Basin Herald on this very issue. I hope you will take the time to read it. It comes from my perspective of surviving the virus, but I also understand that we must work to keep our economy, schools and communities open. People's livelihoods and mental health are on the line. To read, click:
Latest restrictions, no special session
As I mentioned in my column, the coronavirus is not the only danger we are dealing with – mental health, suicide, bankruptcy, domestic violence, divorce and much more. Republicans have repeatedly asked the governor to call a special session so we can address the impacts of COVID. Legislators need to be part of the process, especially during an unprecedented pandemic. Washington state has been under one-person rule since March.
About a month ago I joined 52 lawmakers in calling for a special session to be initiated by the Legislature instead of the governor. If two-thirds of the members of the Legislature agree, we could call ourselves into a special session and address the impacts the COVID virus is having on businesses, communities and families. Click here to read the letter. We aren't going to have a special session, now that we are less than a month away from the 2021 regular session. However, I feel it is important you know we have pushed and asked for a special session since last spring!
Media outlets across the state also believe we should have called a special session.
- Editorial: Call special session now to give businesses badly needed financial aid | Yakima Herald
- Editorial: Pandemic legislative session must be model of transparency | The Seattle Times
- Editorial: Inslee should expand his bubble, call special session of Washington Legislature | The News Tribune
- Editorial: If you want the GOP's help slowing COVID, Gov. Inslee, you need to let them in | Tri-City Herald
- Editorial: Governor's new restrictions could have benefited from Republican input | Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
- Column: Gov. Jay Inslee gets an 'A' in health, but so far he's marked absent on the pandemic economy | Danny Westneat, The Seattle Times
I am hopeful we will still be able to help the many people who need it and it will not be too late for those who truly need it.
CropLife America Award
My love for farming and ranching runs deep. Agriculture has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. So when I recently received an award for my work in the ag industry I was extremely touched and surprised. I view it as a way of life, not only to make a living, but to put food in the grocery stores and on the tables for everyone.
Earlier this fall, I was notified by CropLife America (CLA) I was being recognized with its State Leadership Award for my support of farmers, ranchers and the pesticide industry. Click here to read the news release.
While I am always working on ag-related issues, we have had legislation before us in the last couple sessions related to pesticides. I have been very involved to ensure there is a balance between our ag folks and those who are concerned about impacts to the environment.
I look forward to continuing my work on these issues.
Stay connected during the session
Follow the Legislature during the session. Below are a few helpful links that can keep you informed and updated on what is happening in Olympia.
- The Washington State Ledger: It is a legislative news aggregator administered by state House Republicans. It is a great source for information related to state government, public policy and the legislative process. Check it out!
- My legislative website: You will find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, videos, opinion pieces, bills, and other information.
- Capitol Report and radio interviews: Here you can find my weekly three-minute radio program on important issues I'm working on in Olympia. All my radio interviews during session are also posted here.
- TVW: The state's own version of C-SPAN, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
In my next email update, I talk about some of the bills I will be sponsoring and issues I will be working on during the upcoming session.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about legislative issues before us this year please do not hesitate to contact me. Your feedback is important as we consider the many issues that impact our communities and state, especially in these difficult times. Please stay safe and protect yourself!
It is an honor to serve as your state representative.