Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Pike investigates possible bridge funding from new federal highway bill
On the first day of session in the House Transportation Committee, I was excited to hear a presentation by U.S. Dept. of Transportation representatives about the newly-passed “Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act” (FAST). FAST is appropriating $305 billion in new highway funding over a five-year period (2016-2020).
Of particular interest to me is a freight program within the FAST Act that offers up to 90 percent federal funding on projects to improve freight mobility. I'm seeking bipartisan agreement among our state and federal delegation to leverage some of this federal funding for an affordable bridge project our community can support. As you know, improving freight mobility and relieving traffic congestion in our corridor between Southwest Washington and Portland is my top transportation priority. Here's a link to this presentation (PDF).
Efforts with Rep. Wylie continue as we seek bipartisan transportation solutions
The congestion along the I-5 bridge corridor is not a Republican or Democrat issue. It's a problem that affects all of our local commuters and commerce. We need to get it right and bring lawmakers from both parties and both states together to find the most affordable solution. That's why I continue to team up with Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver. Our new measure, House Bill 2414, would create a much needed Bi-State Legislative Action Work Group to find affordable solutions to improve our traffic corridors between Oregon and Washington.
Rep. Wylie and I are working to garner support from our Southwest Washington delegation to coalesce around possible new bridge solutions in our corner of the State.
Last year, Rep. Wylie and I worked to get a proviso in the budget that would have provided seed money to start the bi-state group. Unfortunately, that funding was stripped at the last minute before the final transportation budget was passed.
So this year, I'm doing all I can to move House Bill 2414 forward. We have lots of support and I'm confident we are going to get it all the way to the the governor's desk! I will keep you posted on progress in the coming weeks.
Teaming up with Sen. Doug Ericksen to halt the governor's harmful carbon cap rules
This week, I introduced House Bill 2421 to protect our high-tech manufacturers and paper and pulp mills in Clark County from new job-killing policies coming from the governor's office. My legislation would prevent Washington from adopting greenhouse gas restrictions that go beyond our already stringent federal guidelines.
My colleague, Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, is working with me on a similar bill that will hopefully gain traction in the Senate. We are involving important industry stakeholders from across the state in this important effort.
As you know, Gov. Inslee failed to pass his signature legislation last session that would have added new greenhouse gas (GHG) restrictions on carbon dioxide, (also known as “cap and trade”). Even though the House of Representatives is controlled by his party, he didn't have enough of their votes to pass his own controversial job-killing bill. But that did not stop him. After the long 2015 session ended, the governor decided to enact his own sweeping carbon cap policy by executive order, insisting he has the authority through rule making at the Washington Department of Ecology, (DOE). On Jan. 6, the DOE released the so called “Clean Air Act” proposal, which is essentially a new version of the governor's cap and trade plan that would punish about 70 job-providing businesses and entities in the state.
In our House Environment Committee this week, we received a briefing on DOE's new draft rule. Under this scheme, our manufacturing facilities in Clark County and all over the state will be told by DOE how many metric tons of carbon they can release into the atmosphere. When these totals are exceeded, business and industry in Washington will be required to buy carbon credits in order to stay in operation or they will have to reduce their operations in order to comply. This job-killing program will have a chilling effect on our state's economy. It will affect our manufacturing sector's ability to expand and grow and may even threaten the closure of our largest manufacturing facilities.
This is the wrong direction for Washington! As a state, we must do all we can to foster a competitive business climate so we keep the businesses we have, encourage their expansion, and attract new family wage jobs to our state. We should all be proud that Washington is already leading the charge in carbon reduction through energy innovation. We are one of the cleanest and greenest states in America, generating just .04 percent of the world's GHGs.
Here are the facts. Washington's population is growing at a current rate of 14 percent. Even with all this new growth, and an improving economy, we have significantly reduced statewide carbon emissions since 2008. Take a look:
2008: 98.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMT CO2e)
2009: 95.2 MMT CO2e
2010: 96.4 MMT CO2e
2011: 92.1 MMT CO2e
2012: 92 MMT CO2e
As a footnote, Washington wildfires in 2015 generated an additional 24 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Consider this: if Washington did a better job of managing its forests to reduce the risk of wild fires, we would dramatically lower our GHGs without killing a single job!
Please be assured, I will continue to fight for common sense solutions that reduce the burden of government on our citizens, shrink the size of government to save taxpayer dollars, and protect our beautiful environment!
A final note
It's an honor to be serving the citizens of the 18th District for the past three years. Half way through my second term, I'm proud of the bipartisan coalitions I have built to find common ground on sensible solutions to improve the lives of our citizens while promoting a vibrant state economy.
I'm thrilled to be a member of the House Transportation Committee, the Environment Committee and the Local Government Committee.
In next week's e-newsletter, I'll highlight several Growth Management Act (GMA) reform bills that I have introduced this week to protect the rights of our rural landowners. GMA was originally passed by the 1992 Legislature. It is outdated. Its “one-size-fits-all” approach to land use is creating billions of dollars in unfunded mandates on our cities and counties all over Washington. As a state, we can do better! I will not rest until we have meaningful GMA reform.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"