Dear friends and neighbors,
With three days left in the 60-day 2014 Legislative Session, activity in the halls of the Capitol has increased as legislators, lobbyists, citizens and students work to make sure their bills are passed.
Straight from the Senate floor – Bill to expand mental health access heads to governor
I’m very pleased to share with you that a bill I sponsored to expand access to mental health care in border communities has passed in the House of Representatives, as it did earlier in the Senate, and will soon head to the governor’s desk. This bill is critical to maintaining safe, healthy communities by increasing access to quality mental health care as a first step. I look forward to standing with Gov. Inslee and all the supporters of the bill when he signs it into law.
Thank you to all who participated in our telephone town hall
In order to stay in touch and hear your feedback on issues important to our community, I held a telephone town hall in February with my seatmates Rep. Jim Moeller and Rep. Sharon Wylie.
Many of the issues you brought up focused on education funding, transportation, oil train safety, the environment, jobs and the economy. We conducted a poll toyou’re your thoughts on raising the minimum wage in our state. Over 270 people on the call responded to the poll; of those respondents, over 65 percent said they would support raising the minimum wage to help lift people out of poverty.
A recent Bloomberg article titled, “Highest Minimum-Wage State Washington Beats U.S. in Job Creation” cites our state’s minimum wage example as creating jobs, not killing them when we pay our workers a more livable wage. I expect we will revisit this debate when we are back in session next year. In the meantime, I will continue to seek your thoughts and feedback on this issue in preparation for next session.
Amendment to transportation budget that would have funded the CRC fails
Last Tuesday, I proposed an amendment that would have fulfilled the promise our state made to the State of Oregon and to the federal government by funding Washington State’s portion of the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project. We have spent more than a decade, dedicated thousands of hours of work, and patiently waited for our turn to replace the antiquated I-5 bridges.
Unfortunately, the amendment did not pass and our community suffered a tremendous setback. To say that I am disappointed would be an understatement. I understand the challenges our communities face. Replacing our nearly 100 year-old bridge would mean better safety, increased transit options and reliability. I was hopeful that we would come to a resolution after all the years of study, work and effort.
Earlier in the year, I travelled to a legislative hearing in Salem to convey the support that exists for the CRC within the Washington State Legislature. Unfortunately, it looks as though politics have won there too and our bridge project will not be completed. I am saddened by this outcome and dismayed at what this means for the future of our community. The fact remains, we need a new bridge. I will continue to focus on this goal in the years ahead.
Budgeting process moves forward
I believe that this year’s supplemental Capital Budget missed an opportunity to invest in our community and in communities across our state. Our communities need jobs and they need investments in infrastructure – but this budget fails to do either, which is why I voted against it
While I appreciate the hard work that went into the preparation of this budget, I am disappointed that it does not invest in our future. I am concerned we have stopped investing in our state and in our communities – communities that need quality, family-wage jobs. Communities like ours that continue to suffer one of the highest rates of unemployment in the entire state.
The supplemental Capital Budget traditionally invests in our districts to create these needed jobs. Given our long, slow climb out of the Great Recession, it is all the more critical that we do all we can right now to invest in infrastructure and job creation. We have an obligation to future generations to make critical infrastructure investments. This budget misses out on that opportunity.
Staying connected to you during the legislative interim
As we wrap up this session, I will be back home in our district. If you have an idea, question or comment about how we can make our community, our district and our state a better place to live, please call my office or email me. I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time,