Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It is hard to believe nearly a month has passed since the 2014 legislative session adjourned March 13. I have been catching up on work at my law firm in Dayton, enjoying some family time, and am glad to be back home in the district. Interestingly, it seemed some of Olympia followed me back to the district.
Governor and attorney general visit the 16th District
On his way to Palouse Falls to sign the bill designating it as the state's official waterfall, Gov. Jay Inslee made a stop at Dayton. He visited the Blue Mountain Station and talked to local food artisans. I gave him a quick tour of the Weinhard Hotel and the Columbia County Courthouse before he left.
Then a few days ago, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson came to town to meet with me and law enforcement officials. We discussed the dilemma of implementing the recreational marijuana initiative and the challenges it poses to our local communities and law enforcement (read my opinion-editorial on the marijuana initiative). Overall, it was an honor to showcase our district to our state officials and host them here.
Sometime this summer, I'm hoping to bring members of the House Finance Committee over to the district to see firsthand the importance of preserving tax preferences for our agriculture community. I serve as the ranking member of that committee.
2014 session successes
In my last e-mail update just after the Legislature adjourned, I highlighted a number of our successes this year.
- We put more money into K-12 education to help our local schools;
- 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;
- We approved legislation supporting the Walla Walla Veterans' Home to serve more than 50,000 veterans and their families in Southeast Washington; and
- The Legislature's business was completed on time without the need for a special session.
The governor and others across the aisle had wanted to raise up to $200 million in taxes, but because of our strong pushback in the House Finance Committee, the proposals never came to the floor for a vote.
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.
District offices open in Walla Walla and Pasco
I work for you throughout the year, not just when the Legislature is in session. For your convenience, my seatmate, Rep. Maureen Walsh and I maintain district offices in Walla Walla and Pasco. I encourage you to call or visit our offices any time you need assistance with state government or have questions regarding legislation.
Here are the addresses and phone numbers:
26 East Main Suite 205
Walla Walla, WA 98366
2815 St. Andrews Loop Suite 2-B
Pasco, WA 99301
Sen. Mike Hewitt can be reached through his Olympia office:
204 Irv Newhouse Building
PO Box 40416
Olympia, WA 98504-0416
I welcome your feedback and I am glad to help in any way I can. It is a privilege and an honor to serve and represent you.