I hope this update finds you and your loved ones enjoying the changing seasons and colors of fall. When the Legislature isn’t in session, my time is used to work on many 10th District-related issues. I’d like to provide you some highlights so you can be involved in the process, and contact me if you have ideas, questions or solutions. This email gives updates on:
- Technology and Economic Development Committee
- Derelict vessel workgroup
- Aerospace task force
- Forest health program
- Higher Education tour
Also, I ask you to please forward this to friends and neighbors in the 10th District. I cannot add people to my email list without their request, and would like to stay in touch with as many people as possible. Here is the link to my web page – at the top you can sign up for my updates.
Technology and Economic Development Committee. We have been tackling a number of significant issues. In particular, I’d like to tell you about two:
- Energy. Our committee will have more jurisdiction over energy policy in the 2014 session. As ranking member, I felt it was imperative to learn more and was pleased to be selected for the Legislative Energy Horizon Institute, which offers training on energy generation, distribution and policy for legislators from the U.S. and Canada. The first half of my training included three days of instruction followed by tours of power generators, including a hydroelectric dam, wind farm, natural gas plant and nuclear power plant. This week I’ll complete my training in Washington, D.C., with intensive instruction on energy policy. My hope is to serve you better on this important issue.
- Invasive Technologies (drones, etc.). There are great public concerns, which I share, about technologies that could invade our privacy and harm our cherished values and way of life. Such technologies carry with them both public benefits and risks. Drones, smart meters and ever-expanding “end-user” agreements for personal data are just a few of the technological challenges requiring diligent oversight. We are now beginning the conversation about expanding consumer and citizen protections.
Derelict vessels. Many of you remember the frustration we felt when the Deep Sea went down in Penn Cove. It cost taxpayers nearly $3 million and caused serious economic damage. I co-sponsored legislation that requires greater owner responsibility, better enforcement and funding so these vessels don’t become a burden to Washington taxpayers. The derelict vessels workgroup has been meeting weekly, looking for ways to avoid the spiral to crisis and make deconstruction and removal more cost-effective for owners. You can read more about the Derelict Vessel Removal Program here.
Aerospace task force. A few weeks ago Gov. Inslee appointed me to the Boeing 777x task force. When Boeing decides where to make this new airplane, we want it to be here in Washington. But the competition for advanced manufacturing sector jobs is fierce. That means we need to continually improve the economic climate for job creators, including their tax and regulatory burden. This summer I wrote in The Everett Herald about why regulatory reform is so vital to job growth – you can read my thoughts here.
Forest health. I’d like to tell a story that I believe will encourage you, but first, a bit of background. Several years ago I was frustrated and moved to action by the crisis in Eastern Washington forests. At that time, we had 220,000 acres at imminent risk of destruction from disease and fire. I worked with colleagues across the aisle, the Department of Natural Resources and others on a plan to address the problem. By prioritizing the most-threatened forests, we were able to target resources and do necessary restoration work. We can restore forest health for a fraction of what it costs to fight fires, and avoid the risk to life, property and environment. In addition, our program protects state-managed timberland, the harvesting proceeds of which benefit K-12 schools, among others.
This summer I had the joy of visiting one of the sites where we had completed restoration work, before the fire season hit. I do wish you could have been there to see it with me! Where the work had been completed, the fire burned through in a more natural way, and the healthy native forest survived. Where the work had not been done, everything in the fire’s path was destroyed. Where our foresters have been able to complete the work, homes and natural resources have been saved. This program works, and is a model for good stewardship.
Higher Education. A Higher Education Committee tour in Eastern Washington last month gave us perspective on the role our universities and community and technical colleges play in people’s ability to find good jobs. We visited Walla Walla, the Tri-Cities and Yakima and learned how colleges there are giving students a useful and productive education and critical job skills. We heard about skill shortages in those communities. There were great suggestions from both students and staff on what the Legislature can do to help institutions reach more students. I also visited three of our local institutions that serve 10th district students, preparing them for life with both degree and certification programs.
As always, I invite you to stay in touch with me. I am here not only to answer your questions, comments and concerns, but also to be a partner with you in this citizen Legislature. I invite your comments, and would be honored to meet with you, your class or community group on your ideas and solutions. Thank you for your trust in me.