Dear Friends and Neighbors,
While the 2019 legislative session is over, my work on your behalf continues. The spring and summer months have been filled with constituent meetings, tours, town halls, meetings with other state, local and congressional officials and staff – all in an effort to bring viable solutions to the issues we face in our region.
Perhaps no issue touches more people in rural Washington in more ways than the lack of access to high-speed internet. With increasing opportunities for tele-medicine, homework assignments in K-12, furthering one's career or higher education, opportunities to start or expand local small businesses, rural access to high-speed internet has the ability to change our lives dramatically. Broadband is the great equalizer for education, healthcare and business opportunities. Conversely, the lack of access to broadband intensifies the continuing disparity between much of eastern/western Washington (the rural/urban divide).
I am working with industry leaders, local, state and federal officials, and anyone else who can lend a hand to make rural broadband access a reality. Earlier this month, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers and I hosted a rural broadband town hall in Colville. We had around 80 people in attendance to discuss the background, the need for, and the future of rural broadband. In addition, I had lunch in Republic with Microsoft CEO Brad Smith to discuss ways in which he and his company can help us achieve our goal of connecting every rural Washington resident to high-speed internet.
Removing the dams
About once every decade, some group or study comes along to convince us all that we'd be better off without the dams found in Eastern Washington. The state Legislature included $750,000 in the state operating budget to “study” the impacts of removing the Snake River Dams (this is more than what the state spends on Veteran Service Officers). Ostensibly, to help support Orca recovery efforts. This despite a study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Fisheries that says recent downward trends for many salmon populations is largely due to unfavorably warm ocean conditions and that “No salmon recovery effort on a single river will bring about recovery of Southern Resident killer whales on its own.” In addition, the salmon in the Snake River Dam system make up an extremely small portion of the Orca diet.
A recent private study done by ECONorthwest (paid for by Vulcan Inc., the company founded by the late Paul Allen) concluded that the economic and recreational benefits of breaching the dams far outweighed the costs. This biased study was slammed far and wide despite the positive attention it got from some media outlets.
Here are two Washington newspaper editorials on the study that got it right, in my opinion:
- Latest anti-dam study is 'unscientific and inaccurate.' It belongs in the trash (Tri-City Herald – Aug. 7, 2019)
- Dubious 'study' on dam breaching is propaganda (Union-Bulletin – Aug. 4, 2019)
I was able to attend a lengthy briefing about the Snake River Dam system as well as a first-hand tour of the Ice Harbor Dam and lock.
I continue to believe our dams provide the life blood for many of our rural communities. Low-carbon clean energy, irrigation for crops, and barging our goods to national and overseas markets are just a few of the enormous benefits these dams provide.
Increased training for law enforcement
As a former law enforcement officer, I know the importance of great training upfront, as well as continued training throughout one's professional career. Properly trained and equipped law enforcement officers benefit the communities they serve.
One of the issues we face is getting the appropriate training for our Eastern Washington officers. The state has not been meeting its training obligations or providing law enforcement departments a quick turnaround in training new officers. I'm working on some capital budget ideas at the state level, as well as with Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and his office, to bring more training opportunities for law enforcement in our region. Stay tuned as this issue, and our solutions, will begin to take formal shape over the next year or so.
Interview on Q-13 Fox News
While in Republic discussing rural broadband, I had the chance to interview with Q-13 Fox News out of Seattle. They sent a crew over to the east side of the state to do in-depth interviews on the east/west political and policy divide. The interview focused on what issues are important to us and why we don't feel like the west side of the state is listening, and what can be done to bring us together. I'm always up for championing our issues, priorities and concerns! Once the story runs and they post it online, I'll share the link.
Thank you, Q-13, for giving the 7th Legislative District a chance to voice our point of view!
I sponsored legislation in the House last year to help bring hope to those waiting for bone-marrow transplants. Working alongside my seatmate, Sen. Shelly Short, we were able to get legislation passed that provides written information to individuals who get a drivers license or identicard on how they can become bone-marrow donors. The law is called “Jada's Law,” after Jada Bascom, a local girl who received a transplant from a match in Germany. As I said to the press recently:
“Bone marrow is a gift one can give at any time to save a life. In addition, bone marrow is matched cell to cell with ethnicity. The rates of survival diminish with mixed ethnicity. I don't believe anyone's chance of survival should diminish due to one's race. This legislation can change those statistics and save lives.”
I want to thank you for placing your trust in me to represent you in the state Legislature. Our shared values and priorities are at the forefront of all the decisions I make. My experiences as a wife, mother, school board member, and former law enforcement officer combine with my interaction with each of you to make me who I am, both at home in Republic and in Olympia. Please continue to reach out to me and my office to share your concerns, problems and ideas. Together we can continue to make Northeast Washington the best place in the state to live, work and raise a family.