Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As part of our push for safer communities, I'm sponsoring a package of bills that will increase law enforcement, improve training and allow more officers in underserved areas. We need to ensure our families and communities are protected from crime, especially as we see more and more proposals in Olympia that favor the criminals over the victims.
Supporting law enforcement and keeping communities safe
Our state has the lowest number of law enforcement per capita in the nation. With the number of training classes varying each year, it's difficult to keep up with demand as rural and urban law enforcement agencies compete for those spots. House Bill 2560 would require the Criminal Justice Training Center (CJTC) to provide at least 15 basic law enforcement academy trainings per fiscal year.
House Bill 2538 would further increase law enforcement training opportunities by creating a pilot program for training in eastern Washington. Currently, we have to send our trainees to western Washington and pay for travel, lodging and food, which is a burden, especially for smaller or rural law enforcement agencies. Having training in eastern Washington would allow trainees to interact with their sponsoring agencies more, receive more specified training to meet their local needs, and save money for all involved.
House Bill 2537 would establish a law enforcement training standards and education board. Law enforcement is continually dealing with increased mental health, body cam and deadly force issues. Taking a proactive approach to training and standards will benefit law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.
And finally, House Bill 2539 would create a law enforcement outreach program specifically focused on rebuilding trust with diverse communities. We have isolated communities around the state that don't see law enforcement as a viable career. We need to establish relationships with these communities and encourage – and potentially recruit – the next generation of law enforcement officers.
Providing relief to families who need life-saving insulin
I have heard from families around our district and the entire state about their struggles to meet the financial burden of keeping their loved ones alive. The price of insulin has risen over 500% in the last decade. Insulin is a life-saving drug. If someone needs insulin, it's to keep them alive. Families can spend over a thousand dollars per month on insulin. Yet the price in Canada is much cheaper. Why?
My bill, House Bill 2662, creates a task force to look at this issue and come up with a long-term, permanent solution to the ever increasing price of insulin. We need to make sure that US and Washington state residents are not subsidizing the drug's cost in other countries. But until that work is done, our families need financial relief now. My bill places a cap of $100 per 30-day supply on insulin for all insurance plans in the state. You can read my press release on this issue here.
Water for agriculture, fish and communities
My bill to base “in-stream flow rates” on actual science instead of wishful fantasy received a public hearing this week. House Bill 1979 recognizes that in-stream flows change during the seasons and requires hard science to determine in-stream flow rates in official projections, agreements, or rules by varying state agencies. The problem we're having now is that some of the supposed in-stream flow rates have NEVER BEEN ACHIEVED in modern recorded history! In other words, the state Department of Ecology is basing certain decisions and rules on in-stream flow rates that have never happened before industrial agriculture. How are those rates attainable now? Quite simply, they're not.
My bill brings some common sense back into the water discussion. We have enough water for agriculture, fish and our communities. You can watch my testimony in the House Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee here.
Protecting our Second Amendment rights
It seems our God-given rights and liberties are under continual assault. Some in Olympia, including our state attorney general, are coming after lawful gun owners as a solution to a litany of problems. The gun legislation we're seeing from west side lawmakers will not prevent evil people from doing evil things. Instead of enforcing existing laws or making tough decisions on mental health issues, they're taking the politically expedient and politically correct tact of going after “those nasty evil guns.”
I believe the Second Amendment is the amendment that protects all others. I will fight any attempt to erode your right to defend yourselves and your loved ones. For a list of gun bills heard this week in committee, click here. For committee membership and contact information, click here. I encourage you to let your voice be heard on these issues.
It's Your Home. Expect More.
Before the session began, Rep. Joel Kretz and I authored a piece on our theme for the session: It's Your Home. Expect More. In it, we discuss how living in our own homes has become less safe and less affordable, while state government seems to be less accountable. You can read more about our priorities and agenda items here.
Telephone town hall
We will be having our 7th Legislative District telephone town hall on Wednesday, Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. Only households with landlines will receive an invitation phone call, so if you'd like to participate via cell phone or from somewhere other than your home, call (509) 253-8574 within about 30 minutes of the start time or any time during the program. This is another way we can stay connected to you and hear about your priorities and concerns. I hope you can join us.