Greetings from Olympia,
This Friday is the fiscal committee cut-off, which means that the Senate’s budget committee, Ways and Means, has until the end of tomorrow to approve bills with budgetary implications. We have been working long days in the committee all this week to hear public testimony on legislation before deciding which bills to send to the Senate Rules Committee – which sets the voting calendar for the full Senate.
Several of my bills are still in play this legislative session, including a fix to the disastrous Hirst decision, which has brought rural economic development to a halt. If you haven’t been following this issue, it stems from a state Supreme Court ruling late last year that turns decades of water law on its head, preventing families who want to build in rural areas from obtaining water via household wells.
My legislation, Senate Bill 5239, would ensure that water is available to support families who don’t have the luxury of hooking up to municipal water resources. The bill received a public hearing in the Senate Ways and Means committee this past Tuesday. Click here to watch the proceedings. There are clearly differences of opinion about how we solve this problem. I think my approach provides a comprehensive solution that addresses stakeholder concerns while ensuring that property owners regain the ability to obtain water in a convenient and affordable way. The consequences of inaction could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in financial losses to the citizens of our state.
Managing our state’s livestock
Two of my bills relating to livestock are still working their way through the legislative process. Senate Bill 5750 concerns livestock inspections. The changes it would make to the inspection fees assessed by the state Department of Agriculture are aimed at helping the beef industry thrive in our state. They have to do with collecting needed data for animal disease traceability and are the result of working with industry leaders to ensure ownership.
The second bill, Senate Bill 5793, also known as the Beef Check Off, would make changes to the per-head assessment for the state’s Beef Commission to increase funding to expand markets and help our beef industry be more successful during what are challenging times for the industry. The bill also requires that the commission provide a report to the Legislature on how the funds are used to support this critical part of our state’s economy.
Protecting our state’s vulnerable
In addition to my work on agricultural issues, I have a passion for protecting our state’s vulnerable residents. Before this legislative session, I served on several special committees looking at Washington’s mental-health system as it relates to delivering critical services to families and children. As a result I introduced Senate Bill 5763, which would improve how the state coordinates mental health services for low-income children and ensures there are enough mental health professionals in our workforce.
Rural Economic Development
I met recently with representatives of Mitsubishi here in Olympia. We discussed their ongoing efforts to boost employment opportunities in our community. I look forward to their continued involvement in our region.
It is an honor to serve as your state Senator. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your state government. Please watch your email, as I look forward to providing you with regular updates throughout the session.
13th District Senator
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103 Irv Newhouse Bldg.
P.O. Box 40410
Olympia, WA 98504
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