Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Now that the multiple sessions have ended it is great to be back home meeting with constituents, visiting communities, working in our family business and spending time with my wife and daughter. I hope you are also enjoying your summer and that I have the opportunity to see you around our district.
Recently, I have visited the Ports of Ridgefield and Camas/Washougal to discuss economic development opportunities. I was pleased to also meet with the Business Industry Association and Vancouver Chamber to discuss the economy and it's impact on employers. I gained valuable insight from the meetings and look forward to more like them. To that end, I am organizing a tour of the district in August. I hope to meet with several types of organizations, including businesses, non-profits and schools. If you would like to be considered for the list of stops we will be making, please contact my legislative assistant, Peter Gilmour, at (360) 210-7070.
Final Budgets Recap
Many of you are already aware that I voted “yes” on the final operating budget. It was finding consensus, and political maneuvering related to this budget, that pushed the Legislature into double-overtime and a 153-day session. I have been involved in Washington State politics as a citizen for 10 years. In that time, I have witnessed many budgets. While this budget wasn't perfect, there is no doubt in my mind that it's the best I have seen in a decade.
Since Republicans are still out numbered in the House, we have a liberal governor and only a one-vote majority in the Senate, I consider this budget a victory. With this budget not only did we keep thousands of state workers employed, we were able to stop drastic increases in taxes and save hundreds of jobs and businesses.
Additionally, with this budget we ensured:
- the B&O tax on businesses was not extended which helped employers on Main Street
- addressed the issue of unemployment
- funded education first
- supported college students by stopping tuition hikes unlike the recent history of double-digit increases, and
- preserved support for our most vulnerable citizens.
I voted “no” on the transportation budget because I believe we need accountability and reform to our current system before we move forward. My fellow Republicans and I support the concept of “fix it before you fund it.” Previous transportation budgets have helped to pay for an off-ramp in the wrong place, faulty ferries and a flawed 520 Bridge. I could not support taking more from struggling families and businesses without the assurance of reform. However, the budget without the tax package passed the House, was amended in the Senate and passed with partial veto by the governor.
Additionally, Democrats led an effort to increase the state's portion of the gas tax by 10.5 cents multiple times during the 2013 sessions. Combined with the 37.5 cents-per-gallon already collected, Washingtonians would be paying one of the highest gas taxes in the nation.
Their final attempt to pass this gas tax was in an additional transportation revenue package, which also would have funded a poorly designed Columbia River Crossing (CRC) plan. I tried to amend one area of concern in this bill mandating that the CRC design include a height that accommodates all commercial river users. However, my amendment was not accepted. This final funding attempt passed the House but died in the Senate.
The capital budget passed out of the House with 79 votes in support and I was pleased to be among them. This budget helps build critical infrastructure in our state and makes key investments in the 18th District. You can see exactly where the money will go if you visit http://fiscal.wa.gov/BudgetC.aspx and sort by legislative district. If you have further questions about the capital budget, please feel free to call my office anytime.
Although I am often in Olympia, my thoughts are never far from those here at home. We have had many noteworthy things happen recently in the 18th District.
Congratulations to Lewis River Rotary Awards Scholarship winners:
- Battle Ground High School: Charity Beene, Katie Clune, Shayla McIntyre, Susan Urias, Adeena Wade and Savanna Watson;
- Columbia Adventist Academy: Stephen Jardin;
- CAM Academy: Allison Erskine, McKenzie Joner, Lydia Moynihan and Lael Papenfuse;
- Hockinson High School: Madeline Brookman, Hannah Charles, Emily Hylton, Katherine Macdonald and Abigail Zora;
- Prairie High School: Nathan Dougal and Lana Ferris;
- Continuing Education: Cicely Grauer and Michelle Suchy.
Congratulations to David Johnson who was named Citizen of the Year as a part of the 2013 Amboy Territorial Days Celebration and served as the grand marshal during the annual Territorial Days Parade.
Congratulations to students Nathan Runkle, Avalon Tarbet-Mendoza, Stephanie Massart and Hannah Foster from Pleasant Valley Middle School. Their project at the annual Kenneth E. Behring National History Day contest held at the University of Maryland College Park campus placed fifth nationally from over 600,000 students who participated.
Congratulations to local entrepreneur Brandon M. Dawson — founder of local companies Audigy Group, Audigy Medical, and Stratus Dental Group, among others — for being named a finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award Pacific Northwest. The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes the men and women who translate an idea into a viable, sustainable enterprise.
Congratulations to Focus Designs Inc. for opening a new office in downtown Camas. Focus Designs manufactures light electric vehicles and is home to the first electric unicycle on the market.
Congratulations to Camas residents John and Avis Boyle who celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. The couple was married July 3, 1948.
During interim, I have an office open in our district located at 532 NE 3rd Avenue, Suite 104, Camas, WA 98607. You can also call the district office at (360) 210-7070. If you would like to set up a meeting or have questions about state government that I can assist you with please feel free to visit my office. I encourage you to pass this e-mail along to others who may be interested and send me your opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org.