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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It is hard to believe it has been nearly a month since the 2014 legislative session ended on March 13. I have been catching up on work on my farm near Camas, enjoying morning walks through our local neighborhoods, and having some family time as well. I have also re-opened my district office at a new location in Camas and have been working on several important in-district issues, including alternatives to the now-dead Columbia River Crossing proposal. Plus, the governor recently signed two of my bills into law.
I wanted to take a few minutes to provide this update. Due to election-year restrictions, this will be my final e-mail update until after Dec. 1. Please read on for more details about these restrictions and how I can continue to communicate with you. Also, mark your calendar for May 10 for town hall meetings in Ridgefield and Camas. Further details are below.
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve and represent you! Please contact my office any time any time you have a question or need assistance with a state agency. You'll find the contact information at the bottom of this e-mail update.
Several days after the legislative session ended, The Columbian wrote in an editorial that the “state Legislature of 2014 could best be described as a 'do-little' gathering.” I strongly disagree and said as much during a lunch meeting I had with The Columbian's editor, Lou Brancaccio. I believe it was a very successful session, given the fact that it was only 60 days. Here are some of the many accomplishments this year:
- We put more money into K-12 education to help our local schools (read my supplemental budget press release);
- College tuition rates remain frozen for students;
- We prevented tax increases and provided a supplemental budget that addresses priority needs and lives within its means; and
- The Legislature's business was completed on time without the need for a special session – the first time since 2009.
I also had personal successes with the following legislation that passed the House and Senate, and was signed by the governor:
- House Bill 2296 requires duplicate signatures on city and county petitions to be counted once, rather than thrown out completely. This is a measure I introduced to bring city and county petition laws up to the same standards as state law, and to protect Washington voters' rights when their intent is to sign a petition on initiatives and referendums. Read more details in my press release.
- House Bill 2298 allows cities and counties to use capital project money from real estate excise taxes to pay for security and technology improvements for police and fire stations. I introduced this legislation at the request of Cowlitz County Commissioner Jim Misner. He and the other commissioners wanted the flexibility to use these funds for technology upgrades and infrastructure within police and fire stations. Read more details in my press release.
Mark May 10 for local town hall meetings
Sen. Ann Rivers and I will be holding town hall meetings next month in Ridgefield and Camas. I encourage you to attend, bring your questions and participate. These meetings help us to be accessible to the public we serve. They are also very educational.
Here are the details:
Saturday, May 10
10 a.m. – 12 noon
Ridgefield Fire Department, Station 21
911 N 65th Avenue
2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Camas Police Department
2100 NE 3rd Avenue
District office 'First Friday Open House Reception' – May 2
In conjunction with Downtown Camas' First Friday event, I will be holding a “First Friday Open House Reception” at my new district office in downtown Camas on Friday, May 2 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The district office is on the second floor of the Clara Block Building, 307 N.E. Birch Street, Suite 203. Light refreshments will be served. Regular district office hours are Monday through Wednesday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Please note I also have a new office phone number: (360) 210-4534. Please come down and join us at the new office.
Bi-State Bridge Coalition in formative stages
In February, I wrote an article for a Portland newspaper entitled, “Let's press the reset button on the Columbia River Crossing.” Essentially, I said it is time to scrap the fatally flawed CRC project and move on. The Oregon Legislature agreed and allowed the CRC project in its current form to die.
I believe, however, that we need to move forward with an alternative plan or plans. Sen. Rivers and I are putting together a Bi-State Bridge Coalition (BBC) to address transportation corridors between the states of Oregon and Washington and specific to the regions of Southwest Washington and the Portland Metro area. Through this process, we hope to identify a multi-phase plan that would improve freight mobility and relieve traffic congestion. This coalition, made up of a dozen Oregon legislators and a dozen legislators from Washington would identify solutions to meet our region's transportation needs. The BBC would be bipartisan and bicameral, with solutions focused on issues that are acceptable to the broad electorate from both sides of the river.
I brought this idea to the editorial board of The Columbian and was also interviewed on Portland's Oregon Public Broadcasting radio station, KOPB. Here are links to those stories and my radio interview:
- The Columbian – Pike has new push to replace the I-5 bridge
- The Oregonian/Associated Press – New push for I-5 bridge over Columbia: Washington lawmakers seek bipartisan coalition with Oregon legislators
- KOPB Interview – The bridge Is back, but don't call it the CRC
2014 constituent business and education stakeholder groups being formed
Last year, I formed constituent “kitchen cabinets” on the issues of education and business. I learned a lot from both groups and it helped me to write legislation for the 2014 session. Building upon that success, I am now working to create a 2014 Education Kitchen Cabinet and a 2014 Business Kitchen Cabinet for this interim. These are groups of stakeholders who are the experts in their field. The purpose of my “Education Kitchen Cabinet” is to hear directly from education leaders on what I can do to improve our public education system to the extent possible in my role as a legislator. Local educators within the 18th district are invited to join the group. The purpose of this “Business Kitchen Cabinet” is to hear directly from business leaders on what I can do to improve the state's business climate. A variety of Clark County business leaders have been invited to participate.
Other legislative tours, meetings and events
I remain engaged in a variety of in-district activities and am working with constituents on several diverse issues:
- Last month, I met with concerned citizens who are pursuing the potential placement of proposed new Bonneville Power Administration power lines onto state-owned Department of Natural Resources lands, as opposed to private Clark County landowner parcels.
- I recently conducted a district-wide media tour to meet with editorial boards and newspaper publishers, including: The Columbian, Battle Ground Reflector and the Camas-Washougal Post Record. The purpose was to provide a brief legislative overview of the 2014 session.
- Over the spring, summer and fall, I'll be visiting with 18th District school boards and city councils across the district, including: Battle Ground, Camas, LaCenter, Ridgefield, Washougal and Yacolt. It's important for me to check in with school district and city leaders to get firsthand knowledge of important issues. I'm also meeting with port officials in Vancouver, the Port of Ridgefield and the Port of Camas-Washougal to identify ways to increase public-private partnerships and other creative solutions to spur job creation.
- I also have several business tours and constituent meetings planned around the 18th District over the next several months. I take my job as your state representative very seriously. The process of meeting citizens and business leaders around the district provide me with the valuable insight I need to fully represent the people of Southwest Washington.
Upcoming public forums
Here are some other important public forums I plan to attend:
- Wednesday, April 16 – 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Greater Vancouver Chamber and Building Industry Association of Clark County legislative luncheon, Heathman Lodge, Vancouver
- Wednesday, April 23 – 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. – Freedom Foundation's “Free Washington Tour,” DeWils Showcase, Vancouver
- Sunday, April 27 – 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. – Latino Community Resource Group and Spring Resource Fair, St. John's Catholic Church, Vancouver
Because of state-mandated election-year restrictions, this will be my final e-mail update to you until after Dec. 1. Initiative 134, passed by voters in 1991, places limits on what and when I can mail to you during an election year. However, the initiative permits me to respond to your direct requests for information. So I encourage you to write or call whenever you have a question or a comment about state government, legislation, or other topics. Please make sure you make clear in your correspondence that you would like a response from my office. This ensures I can respond to you and remain within the provisions of the ethics law.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"
469 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7812 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000