Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I enjoyed meeting with many of you throughout the district during the interim last year. Session began Monday, January 14th and we are in full swing with committee hearings.
This year, I am serving on three House committees:
- Early Learning and Human Services, where I will continue to serve as the ranking Republican. Early learning is one of the best investments we have made in education as it promotes parents' involvement in their children's education at an early and important age.
- Technology and Economic Development will consider issues related to technology and electronic communications, small business assistance, and the development of international trade and technology-driven “green” jobs.
- Higher Education is a new committee for me. With Walla Walla Community College, Columbia Basin College, Whitman College, and WSU Tri-Cities in our district, this is an important committee for me to serve on. The financial burden on students and families has dramatically increased and we have to reverse this trend.
Our state is facing another $900 million budget shortfall. The good news is that we are expecting $2 billion more than the last budget, which means our economy is slowly improving. There is still more work to be done. The Legislature need to promote job growth and should partner with small business by promoting policies that help them to keep their doors open and pay their employees.
Agriculture is an important part of our economy and has certainly helped our state rebound economically. The Legislature is considering several bills related to agriculture, including:
- House Bill 1072 would help agriculture employees move from jobs to careers with additional training and opportunities.
- House Bill 1414 would create an integrated plan to address immediate water needs in the Yakima Basin, which includes Benton County. This legislation brings together the interests of growers, tribes, environmental groups, cities and counties to meet our economic needs while being good stewards of our environment.
My district offices in Walla Walla and Pasco are closed while we are here in Olympia, but my contact information is below. My legislative assistant, Marge, and I look forward to hearing from you about these and other issues. It's an honor to serve you.
420 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7836 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000