(360) 786-7600|Guy.Palumbo@leg.wa.gov

Sen. Palumbo Newsroom

E News – Investing in Infrastructure

Dear friends and neighbors,

In a recent email update, I highlighted many of the more significant laws we passed in the 2018 legislative session. Today I’d like to focus on infrastructure investments in our community that we have been able to secure over my first two sessions in the Legislature.

On the campaign trail, I heard over and over about the issues related to the runaway growth in our district and the lack of infrastructure investments from the state to support that growth. As an example, the $16 billion gas tax package that was passed in 2015 provided only $10 million in road projects for our district. I promised you, the voters, that I would make this a top priority when I got to Olympia. I am happy to report that we are doing much better on this front. Securing these investments is truly a team effort and is in no small part due to the hard work of your legislative delegation, including Representatives Stanford and Kloba.

While we have clearly turned the corner in terms of investments in our district, there is so much more to do. I have included some raphics below to illustrate the funding challenges we face for some of our most important road projects.

These are the major projects funded in the 2017-19 transportation budget:

 

The following graphics show the status of the three largest road projects in our district. Under the heading of “Current Funding” it illustrates how much money we currently have allocated for these projects. The “Current Best Case Scenario” illustrates how soon we could complete these projects if all of the necessary funding were available today. It’s important to note that the 405 graphic shows additional toll lanes in the plan because that is what WSDOT is currently planning for the corridor.

Here are the major projects funded in the 2017-19 capital construction budgets:

From the start of my term, my focus has been to ensure our community receives our fair share of infrastructure funding to keep up with our explosive population growth across the 1st District. I will continue to keep my promise to you over the next two years as we pass additional transportation and capital budgets.

As these projects take shape in the coming months and years, the benefits will be obvious. Each time one of these projects is completed, our district will become a better place to live and work — for ourselves, for our families, and for the future.

As always, it is a privilege to represent your interests in Olympia. If you have any questions or ideas for making our communities better, please don’t hesitate to contact me at guy.palumbo@leg.wa.gov or 360-786-7600. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

April 26th, 2018|Uncategorized|
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    Legislation to protect Washingtonians’ religious information becomes law

Legislation to protect Washingtonians’ religious information becomes law

Disclosing someone’s religious affiliation to the federal government constitutes an unfair practice and a violation of state discrimination laws, as a result of legislation signed into law today by Gov. Jay Inslee.

House Bill 2097, sponsored by Rep. Derek Stanford, D-Bothell, mandates the same protections against religious discrimination as contained in companion legislation in the Senate sponsored by Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby.

“It is unfortunate that a culture of religious intolerance is brewing in our country. We must not be silent while whole communities are scapegoated due to their religious affiliation,” said Stanford. “This measure will prevent our state from taking part in any federal religious registry, and I was glad to see bipartisan support for this effort to protect religious minorities.”

The new law:

  • Prohibits employers from requiring disclosure of an employee’s religious affiliation;
  • Prohibits public agencies and personnel from using agency resources to disclose an individual’s religious affiliation to the federal government or to compile information regarding individual religious beliefs, national origin or ethnicity for immigration or law enforcement purposes;
  • Restricts local and state law enforcement agencies from collecting or using information about an individual’s religious affiliation, with limited exceptions; and
  • Exempts personal information about an individual’s religious affiliation from disclosure under the state Public Records Act.

“No one should have their religion used against them, whether through prejudice or through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),” Palumbo said. “Religion is a choice and a right, not a tool for incarcerating law-abiding people. This law ensures the privacy and protections to which we all are entitled.”

March 28th, 2018|Uncategorized|
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    Legislature passes bill to protect Washingtonians’ religious information

Legislature passes bill to protect Washingtonians’ religious information

Disclosing someone’s religious affiliation to the federal government constitutes an unfair practice and a violation of state discrimination laws, as a result of legislation passed today by the Legislature.

House Bill 2097, sponsored by Rep. Derek Stanford, D-Bothell, provides the same protections against religious discrimination as contained in companion legislation in the Senate sponsored by Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby.

“No one should have their religion used against them, whether through prejudice or through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),” Palumbo said. “Religion is a choice and a right, not a tool for incarcerating law-abiding people.”

The legislation:

  • Prohibits employers from requiring disclosure of an employee’s religious affiliation;
  • Prohibits public agencies and personnel from using agency resources to disclose an individual’s religious affiliation to the federal government or to compile information regarding individual religious beliefs, national origin or ethnicity for immigration or law enforcement purposes;
  • Restricts local and state law enforcement agencies from collecting or using information about an individual’s religious affiliation, with limited exceptions; and
  • Exempts personal information about an individual’s religious affiliation from disclosure under the state Public Records Act.

“It is unfortunate that a culture of religious intolerance is brewing in our country. We must not be silent while whole communities are scapegoated due to their religious affiliation,” said Stanford. “This measure will prevent our state from taking part in any federal religious registry, and I am glad to see bipartisan support for this effort to protect religious minorities.”

Having passed both the House and Senate, the bill now goes to the governor to be signed into law.

February 27th, 2018|Uncategorized|
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    Environment prominent in several Palumbo bills passed by Senate

Environment prominent in several Palumbo bills passed by Senate

A slew of bills sponsored by Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby, headlined by several dedicated to environmental health, have passed the Senate prior to a key legislative deadline. Bills that did not pass before Wednesday’s 5 p.m. deadline are considered dead, with the exception of fiscal bills necessary to implement the budget.

Palumbo’s environmental bills would increase the use of solar energy while assisting low-income households struggling with utility bills, reduce air pollution in and around ports, and promote the development of more charging options for electric vehicles.

“The greatest threat to our health and safety today and for future generations is climate change, and the time to act on it is well past due,” Palumbo said. “Here in Washington, we see economic and environmental impacts such as reduced snowpack and drought stressing our agricultural industry. We see wildfires that strain our general fund and cripple local tourist economies.  We see ocean acidification threatening the health of our shellfish industry.

“Every action we can take to reduce air pollution and the use of fossil fuels is vital for future generations. These bills are just the beginning of my efforts to right our environmental course in as many ways as possible.”

SB 6081 would allow more people the freedom to create their own energy through rooftop solar power and to sell that power back onto our shared utility grid.  In addition, the bill would require utilities to use unused solar credits to assist qualified low-income households in paying their utility bills.

SB 6207 would ensure that port districts have the legal authority to implement programs to reduce air pollution from vehicles used in cargo transport to, from, and within port district facilities as well as cargo vessels.

SB 6187 would allow public utility districts and municipal electric utilities to offer incentives to ratepayers for electric vehicle charging stations.

Palumbo’s other bills that beat the deadline would help protect surrendered newborn babies, improve emergency fire response, and aid businesses that face high rates of theft and needless red tape.

Senate Bill 5522 would implement task force recommendations to raise awareness of the 2002 Safety of Newborn Children Act and facilitate data sharing between state agencies and the public. The safety of newborn children law requires caregivers to notify Child Protective Services within 24 hours of receiving an infant, but there is no requirement for the Department of Social and Health Services to report data regarding surrendered newborns.

“This life-saving act has been on the books for more than a decade, but we know relatively little about how many abandonment incidents happen and how many could have been prevented,” Palumbo said. “With reliable data, and better coordination between agencies, we can make caregivers more aware of our safe surrender option.”

SB 6548 would improve the state’s emergency fire response capability by creating a task force to identify ways to improve communication and coordination between multiple responders.

“This will hopefully lead to both cost savings for taxpayers by encouraging regionalization efforts among fire districts and a safer working environment for the men and women who keep us safe during natural disasters,” Palumbo said.

SB 5633 would help businesses deal with modern retail thieves and reduce the potential for violent interactions between thieves and staff or police by adding concealment to the definition of theft. Police or store security may watch activity but cannot do anything until the person actually leaves the store; this increases the possibility of officer injury, risky confrontation with store personnel, or the chance of reaching a getaway car. This change will enable police and security staff to apprehend a thief sooner and reduce the potential for violent interactions with law enforcement and store personnel.

“This can make our stores safer for employees and customers alike, as well as security staff and police,” Palumbo said. “This addresses a growing public safety concern.”

SB 5141 would exempt operators of yoga teacher training studios from being regulated as private vocational schools. Private vocational schools require licenses, licensure fees, and a host of administrative work far more sophisticated than needed for such small businesses.

“This is another case where government bureaucracy is getting in the way of job growth,” Palumbo said. “As one of the few small business owners in the Senate, I will always look for ways to support small business whose needs often go unattended.”

February 15th, 2018|Uncategorized|
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    Palumbo helps secure $57 million for infrastructure projects

Palumbo helps secure $57 million for infrastructure projects

The capital construction budget passed late Thursday by the Legislature will create jobs and provide infrastructure important to communities across the 1st Legislative District, Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby, said today.

“These projects will make our communities better places to live and work, not just for those of us who live here today but for generations to come,” Palumbo said. “Investing in infrastructure helps us grow and thrive economically, paving the way for even better opportunities for our children and grandchildren, and makes our communities a more attractive locale for businesses looking to start or relocate.”

The overall construction budget will create more than 19,000 construction jobs, invest more than $1 billion in public school construction to lower class sizes, and pump $800 million into our public universities and colleges. Additionally, the capital budget would provide millions of dollars in investments to support the elderly, add new mental health beds, protect our natural environment and get homeless children off the streets.

Within the 1st District, my seatmates and I secured funding for these key local projects:

  • $29.5 million for a new parking structure at Cascadia College.
  • $15.3 million for new construction at Juanita High School.
  • $4.4 million for improvements at Mountlake Terrace Elementary School.
  • $3 million for UW Bothell for predesign for a new STEM sciences building.
  • $1.5 million for the Willows Road Regional Trail connection in Kirkland.
  • $1 million for the preservation and conservation of land formerly occupied by the Wayne Golf Course in Bothell.
  • $1 million to extend the Centennial Trail in south Snohomish County in Maltby.
  • $1 million for the North Creek Regional Trail.
  • $250,000 to improve drainage at the Cedar Grove Park Athletic Field.
  • $115,000 to update ADA ramps in Brier.
January 19th, 2018|Uncategorized|

E News- Committee days & K-12 funding update

Dear friends and neighbors,

Last week was what they call in Olympia “committee days” — the time of year when the Senate gets together to plan for the upcoming legislative session. This year’s committee days went a little differently than last year’s because Democrats have reclaimed the majority of the Senate, which means we get to set the agenda and assign committees for next session. We successfully secured a one-seat majority this election cycle after a special election victory in the 45th Legislative District.

With this new majority, I have new responsibilities. I will serve as vice chair on the Energy, Environment & Technology, Local Government, and Higher Education & Workforce Development committees. I will also serve as a member of the Ways & Means committee which handles the state’s operating and capital budget.

K-12 Funding Update

Last session we passed a historic $7.3 billion K-12 funding package in response to the state Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling that the state was not meeting its constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education.

Last week, the court announced that while we have made significant progress to remedy the McCleary ruling, the Legislature is not out of the woods yet. The main component for the court’s decision to retain jurisdiction of the case is that they found that the state remains out of full compliance because updated basic education salaries will not be implemented by Sept. 1, 2018.

It is also clear that, as passed, the McCleary legislation is causing some serious difficulties on the ground in our school districts. I am committed to working with those on the ground to make the policy and funding changes necessary to provide a world-class education for our children. A top priority for me is to also lower the new property tax levied to pay for schools. I voted against the property tax because our district gets absolutely hammered under this plan. I would like to find a more responsible and progressive tax plan that does not hurt working families and those on fixed incomes.

Stay Tuned

Thanks for taking the time to read my e-newsletter. Remember, I am able to do my best work when I hear from you and know your priorities. As we head into the 2018 session, please do not hesitate to contact me to share your concerns for our community and the state.

Have a pleasant Thanksgiving, everybody! This year, I am truly grateful for the opportunity you gave me to represent you in the Legislature. It’s an honor and privilege to serve you.

Sincerely,

November 21st, 2017|E-News|
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    Palumbo to vice chair three Senate committees in new Democratic majority

Palumbo to vice chair three Senate committees in new Democratic majority

OLYMPIA – Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby, will serve as vice chair on the Energy, Environment & Technology, Local Government, and Higher Education & Workforce Development committees in the Washington State Senate.

Palumbo will also serve as a member on the powerful Ways & Means committee which handles the state’s operating and capital budget.

Securing a one-seat majority after a special election victory in Washington’s 45th Legislative District, Senate Democrats will now set the docket for policy committees and floor action.

“There is a dire need for action on a broad range of issues in the upcoming legislative session,” said Palumbo. “New opportunities with a new majority will help us show Washington what effective governance looks like once more. I am thankful for the opportunity to work closely with my colleagues as we move Washington forward.”

On these varied committees, Palumbo will aid the Senate Democratic Caucus in setting priorities for the 2018 session and intermittently serve as acting chair.

 

November 15th, 2017|Uncategorized|

E News- 2017 session comes to an end

Dear friends and neighbors,

During the campaign, I promised to fight every day to ensure the 1st Legislative District got its fair share of infrastructure investments. Our district did very well in the supplemental transportation budget that passed the Legislature this year. We also did well in the capital budget that passed the House by a 92-1 vote but fell short of passing in the Senate.

Unfortunately, the capital budget was used as leverage by the Senate’s Republican majority to address the Supreme Court’s Hirst decision on contentious water rights. Democrats in the House offered numerous alternative solutions that were ultimately rejected. When it was clear there wasn’t time to come up with a permanent solution to this very difficult policy problem, House Democrats offered a two-year suspension of the court ruling. This would have provided relief to rural homeowners waiting for permits, while allowing the Legislature to take the time to come to a thoughtful compromise. That offer was also rejected by Senate Republicans.

If we can collectively find a path to overcome this impasse on Hirst in the months to come, the capital budget will pass with a large bipartisan vote. It is a budget our state needs badly.

NO CAP BUDGET HURTS THE 1st

The $4 billion capital budget would create more than 19,000 construction jobs, invest more than $1 billion in public school construction to lower class sizes, and pump $800 million into our public universities and colleges. Additionally, the capital budget would provide millions of dollars in investments to support our elderly, add new mental health beds, protect our natural environment and get homeless kids off the streets.

Your legislative delegation secured the following investments in the capital budget for the 1st District:

  • $29.5 million for a new parking structure at Cascadia College.
  • $15.3 million for new construction at Juanita High School.
  • $4.4 million for improvements at Mountlake Terrace Elementary School.
  • $3 million for UW Bothell for predesign for a new STEM sciences building.
  • $1.5 million for the Willows Road Regional Trail connection in Kirkland.
  • $1 million for the preservation and conservation of land formerly occupied by the Wayne Golf Course in Bothell.
  • $1 million to extend the Centennial Trail in south Snohomish County in Maltby.
  • $1 million for the North Creek Regional Trail.
  • $250,000 to improve drainage at the Cedar Grove Park Athletic Field.
  • $115,000 to update ADA ramps in Brier.

Although I am not an expert on water rights, I have spent the last two weeks doing shuttle diplomacy between the parties and interest groups in the hope of finding a compromise. I am hopeful that we can continue to negotiate during the interim and find a deal on both the Hirst conundrum and on the capital budget.

Your partner service,

August 1st, 2017|E-News|
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    Palumbo: Solar incentives bill will support thousands of jobs, promote renewable energy

Palumbo: Solar incentives bill will support thousands of jobs, promote renewable energy

OLYMPIA – With the state’s solar incentive program set to sunset soon, the Washington State Legislature extended the program as a part of the overall budget agreement that was reached at the end of June.

Senate Bill 5939 provides clear incentives and rules to install renewable energy systems on homes, businesses and in communities.

“This bill will support thousands of jobs and promote renewable energy throughout the state,” said Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby and co-sponsor of SB 5939. “I fought hard all session long for this bill and I am proud we got it over the finish line in a bipartisan manner.”

Prior to this legislation, several utilities in the current program had reached their cap on incentive payments, resulting in reductions to existing customers and barring new customers from entering the program. Under SB 5939, the utility caps are increased so that existing customers will receive full payments and new customers will be able to join the program.

“This bill kills two birds with one stone,” said Palumbo. “Not only does it benefit our natural environment by promoting renewable energy, it also supports an entire industry of small businesses that specialize in solar energy.”

Gov. Jay Inslee signed SB 5939 into law on July 7.

 

July 13th, 2017|Uncategorized|

E News- Budget agreement reached, work left to be done

Dear friends and neighbors,

I am going to apologize in advance for what is going to be a long update on the legislative session.

While most of the state had gone to bed on Friday night June 30th, the Legislature finally passed an operating budget, narrowly avoiding a government shutdown. Had we failed to get our job done, state parks would have closed and services that many of our most vulnerable populations depend on would have been halted.

This was my first time participating in the budget process and it convinced me that we need to reform the system. We as a Legislature must do better. We cannot continue to play a high-stakes game of chicken by running up against a government shutdown just to get our work done. Not only did we wait until the last second to pass a budget, we did so with no public input. Not to mention, most legislators, myself included, were given only a few hours to review the budget.

That is unacceptable and it needs to change.

As we reflect on last week’s celebration of the birth of our democracy, we need to remember that our founding fathers wanted a process robust with open debate and public scrutiny.

To that end, I have already introduced a new bill that requires 72 hours before bills are brought to the floor for a final vote. This will provide adequate time for the public to review legislation and provide feedback to their representatives before a bill becomes a law.

We also passed a K-12 funding bill that makes historic investments in our public education system. This legislation is in response to the State Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling that Washington was not meeting its constitutional obligation to fully fund our schools.

I voted against both the K-12 funding bill and the operating budget. I will share my reasons below.

K-12 FUNDING

The landmark K-12 funding and policy package we passed late last Friday invests $7.3 billion into our public education system. It also funds important programs aimed at closing the opportunity gap, increases teacher compensation so we can recruit and retain the best and brightest to teach our children, and maintains local control.

I voted no because of the secretive process and because the plan is funded by a statewide property tax that is unsustainable in the long run and unfairly hurts working households and folks on fixed incomes – especially in the 1st Legislative District.

The process was maddening. Legislators and the public were not given accurate data on how the taxes and policy would affect our district until the morning of the vote. This left me little to no time to get feedback from teachers, parents, superintendents and other education advocates in my district. A bill of this magnitude requires more scrutiny and reflection in order for us to get it right.

I am also greatly concerned about the sustainability of the new property tax. This legislation suspends the 1% property tax limit over the next four years – a limit established by a Tim Eyman sponsored initiative. However, the 1-percent property tax cap goes back into effect in Year 5. As a result, the main funding source for schools will begin to erode and we will be back in the same situation we are today – scrambling for more K-12 dollars. My colleague, Sen. Jamie Pedersen, articulated these concerns very eloquently on the Senate floor. I encourage you to watch his comments by clicking here.

My final reason for voting against the K-12 bill is because it disproportionately hurts homeowners and renters in our district. Make no mistake about it, no other legislative district gets hit as hard as ours does. When you rank the 295 school districts statewide on the property tax increase, the 1st Legislative District has two school districts in the top 5 and three of our districts are in the top 10.

Property tax increase on the average homeowner in the 1st Legislative District.

Of the $7.3 billion investment, $4.1 billion of it is from this Republican property tax swap. It simply asks homeowners and renters in our district to fund tax cuts for districts east of the mountains. I cannot in good conscience place the burden of funding education in our state on the backs of low-income households and seniors on fixed incomes in our district. Affordability is already a major problem in our region and this tax plan will only make things worse. I would have preferred a tax plan that asked polluters to foot the bill rather than the middle class.

My friend and colleague, Sen. Patty Kuderer, summed things up best during the floor debate. I encourage you to watch her remarks by clicking here.

THE BUDGET

Because we have a split legislature, the operating budget that passed was ultimately a compromise. For both parties, there are items in the budget that are good and items that are hard to justify.

I am happy that this budget funds additional slots for the state’s early learning programs, invests in mental health and supports programs that assist our most vulnerable citizens. As the ranking member on the Senate Higher Education committee, I am pleased this budget invests in the State Need Grant that helps more children access higher education.

In the end, though, I voted ‘no’ on this budget.

Once again, I was extremely disappointed in the negotiation process. I was given the 620-page budget to review at 11:00 a.m. on Friday and I had to vote on it at 3:30 p.m. that afternoon. There was no public hearing, no public input. I was still scanning the document 10 minutes prior to the vote, trying to figure out how the budget addressed the priorities of my constituents.

I also voted against this budget because it is loaded with accounting gimmicks and it uses almost $2 billion of one-time money for ongoing operating expenses. For example, it sweeps the Public Works Trust Fund – a fund created to help local communities bond important infrastructure projects at low-interest rates.

My friend Sen. Mark Mullet illustrated the sustainability problems with this budget in his floor speech and I encourage you to watch it by clicking here.

The state treasurer has also weighed in on this specific problem:

“Using one-time revenue for an annually recurring expense is concerning. In the coming days there might still be ‘back of the budget’ explanations that will help put this transfer in better context,”- Duane A. Davidson, Washington State Treasurer.

I really wanted to be able to vote for a bipartisan compromise budget. However, the complete lack of transparency, coupled with what I believe to be unconstitutional and unsustainable funding sources, warranted my no vote.

SUPPORT FOR SOLAR ENERGY

At 2 a.m. last Saturday, we finally passed my Senate Bill 5939, a critical solar energy bill that enhances the solar production incentive for renewable energy systems. This bill will support thousands of jobs, local businesses and renewable energy throughout the state. I fought hard all session long for this bill, right up to the last moment. It will go a long way towards improving our environment and helping many small businesses that specialize in solar energy systems.

PAID FAMILY LEAVE

After months of tense negotiations, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 5975 to establish a new statewide paid family and medical leave insurance program. The culmination of more than a decade of work by legislators and advocates, SB 5975 is the most worker-friendly paid family and medical leave program in the nation.

Under this legislation, employees will be able to take off up to 12 weeks for the birth of a child, to take care of a family member who is suffering a serious medical condition, or for a non-work-related illness or injury to that employee.

I was proud to be a part of a sub-group of small business owners in the Senate Democratic Caucus who were able to give input on how paid family medical leave might affect small businesses in the state. Because of our participation, this legislation has many good elements that protect small businesses including a provision that exempts businesses that employ fewer than 50 employees from having to pay the employer share of the premium, but allows them to opt in if they choose.

CAPITAL BUDGET UPDATE

Senate Republicans are refusing to pass a Capital Budget — the budget that funds construction projects, class size reduction and maintains public lands across the state — until there is a repeal of the Hirst water decision.

At 3:30 a.m. last Saturday, House Republicans joined House Democrats and passed the Capital Budget off the House floor by a 92-1 margin. Clearly, House Republicans are just as frustrated as their Democratic counterparts that the Senate Republicans are holding the Capital Budget hostage.

This is completely reckless and places projects in our district at risk of losing important state funding, including $1 million for further preservation of land in Bothell formerly occupied by the Wayne Golf Course.

The current special session is scheduled to end on July 20. I am hopeful Senate Republicans will join us at the bargaining table so we can pass a compromise Hirst fix and Capital Budget before our work in Olympia is done.

KEEP IN TOUCH

Even though we are a citizen legislature and our work is considered part time, I will continue to work diligently during the interim on projects important to the 1st Legislative District. For instance, my efforts on transportation this session are beginning to bear fruit. There is now a work group focused on fixing traffic issues at the north end of I-405. A recent change in the plan includes a new parking garage at the Canyon Park park-and-ride and adding a new park-and-ride near the University of Washington-Bothell. This will help to integrate the new SR 522 and I-405 bus rapid transit lines when they become operational.

I will also convene a group of local CEOs and city officials to work on bringing more biotech and STEM jobs to the Canyon Park business district. Stay tuned.

Thank you for taking the time to read this update. My number-one responsibility is to you, the residents of the 1st Legislative District. You sent me here to represent your values and I will never lose sight of that trust and responsibility. Please feel free to contact me anytime. The more I hear from you, the better I can fight for your priorities.

Sincerely,

 

July 12th, 2017|E-News|