Nealey receives committee assignments as legislative session begins

Amid the pomp and circumstance of the Legislature’s opening ceremonies, freshman lawmaker Rep. Terry Nealey learned today of his legislative committee assignments.

Nealey, R-Dayton, will be serving on three standing House committees: Education Appropriations; Technology, Energy and Communications; and Transportation.

“I’m very pleased that the speaker has selected me to serve on these committees. They are a good fit for the issues and concerns of the citizens of the 16th District,” said Nealey.

The Education Appropriations Committee considers issues relating to policies and funding of early learning, K-12, higher education programs and agencies, and makes funding recommendations to the Ways and Means Committee.

With the state budget facing a $2.6 billion shortfall, Nealey said it will be important having someone on that committee fighting to protect levy equalization funding for rural school districts, and ensuring that other lawmakers know the importance of local college programs for Southeast Washington.

“Last year, the Legislature was considering 12 percent reductions in levy equalization funding for schools in rural districts. That could have meant more than $3 million in cuts to our local school districts and a loss of many teachers. It was only through some last-minute moves that levy equalization cuts were averted. This year, the governor has proposed to completely eliminate levy equalization. That could be devastating for our schools. Making ample provision for the education of children is our state’s paramount duty. It must be a funding priority in the budget,” said Nealey. “I’m also concerned that higher education doesn’t take the brunt of budget cuts, especially when worker training programs are so important in this recession. I will be working on this committee to bring a strong voice to the table to ensure the viability of Walla Walla Community College, Columbia Basin College and WSU Tri-Cities.”

The Technology, Energy and Communications Committee considers deployment, regulation, and access to technology and electronic communications, energy availability, production, and conservation, and related infrastructure issues.

Nealey said he will work to protect Snake River dams and promote expansion of other energy resources in the region.

“The 16th District is really in the heart of a diverse energy production area. Part of the district covers the Tri-Cities where many resources for producing clean nuclear power are located, along with a large concentration of PhDs who have the brain power to know how to safely proceed. We have the advantage of wind power, and I’m very familiar with this resource, having represented land owners in negotiating leases with wind-energy companies. We also have the Snake River dams, which provide hydropower, irrigation and flood control for our region,” noted Nealey. “If we expanded the development of these resources which are based right here in our backyard, Washington could be a leader of energy production in the nation.”

The Transportation Committee considers the transportation budget, revenue sources for transportation funding, and issues relating to transportation policy and transportation agencies, including the Department of Transportation and the Washington State Patrol. Nealey said he will provide input on local highway funding bills that would improve the safety of Highway 12 and ensure farm-to-market access for grain growers and other agricultural products.

“Highway 12 from Burbank to Walla Walla is a heavily traveled, two-lane highway with more than 13,000 vehicles per day. Much of that traffic volume is made up of freight and farm trucks. Area economic development is hindered by lack of access to a high-quality four-lane highway,” said Nealey. “We’ve got a good start on this project with lanes added from Burbank to near Wallula, and now we need to make sure the final phases from Wallula to Walla Walla are funded from start to finish.”

The 2010 legislative session officially began at noon today (Monday) and is scheduled to last 60 days. Nealey was elected in November and sworn into office Dec. 1.  He opened his Olympia office Dec. 30. His legislative assistant is Meagan Allen.

People wishing to contact Nealey may use the following information:

MAIL:
Rep. Terry Nealey
402 John L. O’Brien Building
P.O. Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600

E-MAIL: nealey.terry@leg.wa.gov

WEB SITE: houserepublicans.wa.gov/Nealey’

TELEPHONE: (360) 786-7828

TOLL-FREE LEGISLATIVE HOTLINE: 1-800-562-6000

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Contact: John Sattgast, Senior Information Officer: (360) 786-7257

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov