Happy Thanksgiving Week! I hope that even with the many challenges we face in our communities, we can find time this week to reflect on our many blessings and connect with family and friends.
As we get closer to the start of 2020 legislative session and shift our attention from in-district meetings to our work in Olympia, I would like to provide an update on a few important items, including:
- What's in store for the upcoming session
- 2020 legislative priorities survey
- Welcome to the Legislature, Sen. Muzzall!
- Serving in the House Page Program
- Contacting me
What's in store for the upcoming session
The 2019 session brought some great results for our district and the state. Not only did we pass record capital budget funding for mental and behavioral health facilities around the state, but we also saw $28.5 million in local project funding invested in our local communities. As a reminder, some of these investments include:
- Grants for the Oak Harbor Tri-County Behavioral Health Center – $1 million
- Skagit County Sheriff Emergency Communication System – $1 million
- Coupeville Boys and Girls Club – $849,000
- Oak Harbor Boys and Girls Club – $743,000
- La Conner Regional Library improvements – $720,000
- Samish Hatchery improvements – $7.7 million
- Local estuary and salmon restoration projects – $1.2 million
- Preservation of Ebey's National Historic Reserve – $1 million
- Camp Korey Youth Recreational Facilities Grant – $545,000
- Oak Harbor Marina – $400,000
- Three Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program farm preservation projects – $810,000
During next year's 60-day session, which begins Jan. 13, the Legislature will have an opportunity to pass a supplemental capital budget to address any unforeseen or emergent issues that developed after passage of the 2019-21 capital budget earlier this year. About $70 million was set aside for that specific purpose.
Lawmakers will also be working to pass supplemental operating and transportation budgets. With the passage of I-976, much of the spotlight will be on the effort to balance the state's transportation budget.
As I mentioned in my last email update, your online data privacy will remain a key focus of mine. I'll be working to get several pieces of legislation signed into law to better protect you and your family from online threats. I'll also be working to further improve the state of mental and behavioral health care in Washington. There is much more we can do in this space, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to build on our recent successes.
2020 legislative priorities survey
Your feedback has always been critical to me, as it's driven the work I've done and helped me to bring your interests to the forefront in Olympia. With the 2020 legislative session right around the corner, I hope you'll take a few moments to respond to the handful of survey questions I've listed below (you can reply directly to this email).
Thank you in advance for your responses!
Q. Of the options below, what issues do you believe the Legislature should prioritize during the 2020 session?
- Mental and behavioral health
- Economy and taxes
- State spending
- Health care
- Affordable housing
- Your online privacy and data protection
- Military and veterans
- The environment
- Public safety
- Other (please let me know)
Q. If you could direct how $100 of your tax dollars would be allocated, to which of the following priorities would you want those dollars invested in?
- Helping people on the brink of homelessness stay in their house or apartment
- Funding programs that treat mental illness and alcohol/drug addiction
- Increasing the supply of affordable housing
- Protecting the southern resident orca population
- Removing man-made fish barriers that are negatively impacting salmon runs
- Something else (please let me know)
Q. Would you support an increase in the gas tax as a way to pay for improving the state's roads, highways and bridges?
Q. Do you support replacing the gas tax with a pay-per-mile system?
Q. Do you support a state income tax?
Q. Would you support legislation to prevent local governments from implementing an income tax?
Thank you again for your responses to these questions!
Welcome to the Legislature, Sen. Muzzall!
When former Sen. Barbara Bailey announced her retirement from the Legislature in August, council members and commissioners from the three counties in our district were tasked with selecting her replacement. On Oct. 18, Ron Muzzall received nine of the 11 votes cast and was appointed to the state Senate.
I want to offer Sen. Muzzall my sincere congratulations. I'm looking forward to working closely with him on a wide range of important issues that will serve our district and state well. I also want to wish Barbara Bailey a wonderful retirement. I'm grateful for her friendship, as well as for her leadership and commitment to serving our communities in the 10th for the past 16 years. She'll be missed by many in the legislative community.
Serving in the House Page Program
I believe it's so important that our young people get involved in their state government, which is why I'm such a fan of the House Page Program. It offers students between the ages of 14 and 16 the opportunity to come to the Capitol for a week, attend page school, assist lawmakers on the House floor, and fulfill many other tasks critical to the efficient operation of the Legislature.
If you know of any students who would be interested in serving as a page during the upcoming session, please send me an email. To become a page, applicants must have a legislative sponsor and obtain written permission from their parents and school. Pages earn $35 per day while serving in the program. For more information, click here.
Please continue contacting me with your comments, questions and concerns. I also welcome your ideas for new legislation. My email address is Norma.Smith@leg.wa.gov, and my phone number is (360) 786-7884.
It is an honor to serve you.