Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope you had a very happy Thanksgiving with family and friends! I want to thank you for taking a moment out of your day to learn about what I've been up to and what I'm focused on as we get closer to the start of the 2018 legislative session. It's hard to believe it's just 40 days away.
Last month, I was named co-chair and executive member of the Joint Committee on Veterans' and Military Affairs, a legislative committee I've served on since 2013. In this new role, I'll have the opportunity to work alongside my co-chair, Sen. Steve Conway, and other committee members to make recommendations to the Legislature on how to best address active military forces issues and better serve our veterans. The bipartisan committee, which consists of four state legislators from each caucus, also plays an important role in ensuring the security and preparedness of Washington state during emergencies. As our nation continues to face threats from around the globe, the continued involvement of the committee in our state's emergency preparedness is critical.
Also playing an important role in our nation's security will be the U.S. Navy's newest Virginia-class fast-attack submarine, the USS Washington. On Saturday, Oct. 7, I was on hand to witness the commissioning of the submarine — the third Navy ship to be commissioned with a name honoring Washington state. The last was the battleship, BB-56, which was in service from 1941 to 1947 and was credited with sinking more enemy tonnage than any other Navy battleship in World War II.
I have no doubt the USS Washington and its crew of nearly 130 submariners will play a vital role in ensuring our security and prosperity in the decades to come. The sub will be ready for deployment in the summer of 2019 under the command of Cmdr. Gabriel B. Cavazos.
It's hard to believe, but since my first legislative session in 2013, the Legislature has gone into special session 10 times — costing taxpayers well over $1 million.
Let me be clear: there is no excuse for us not to be able to get our work done on time.
To eliminate all excuses going forward, I'll be introducing legislation to change the state's fiscal year so it coincides with the end of regular session. This simple change would prevent the Legislature from relying on special sessions every year to complete its work.
I'll also be introducing a bill to move up policy cutoff dates during session. While these dates are designed to give us plenty of time to introduce and debate legislation, we've been spending far too much time debating mundane policy and too little time developing a genuine budget. I believe it makes more sense for the policy period in long, 105-day sessions to equal the length of the policy period in short, 60-day sessions so we can give proper attention to the two-year operating budget.
Along with these budget process reform bills, I will be introducing legislation to prohibit Atlantic salmon farms in Washington state. There have been at least four instances in which significant numbers of Atlantic salmon have escaped into the wild during the several decades in which they've been cultivated commercially in our marine waters — including most recently in August. Escaped farmed Atlantic salmon pose a variety of risks, including disease amplification and transmission. They also threaten our native Pacific salmon with regard to competition for resources.
Unfortunately, despite extensive decades-long recovery efforts, Pacific salmon populations of the Puget Sound remain in danger. To help remedy this, I believe it's imperative for the Legislature to enact a permanent ban on Atlantic salmon farms this session.
I welcome your thoughts on these matters, and encourage you to contact me with other ideas you have for bills I could introduce during the 2018 legislative session. My phone number is (360) 786-7902 and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
This will be my final email update of the year, so I want to extend my best wishes to you and yours this holiday season. I am truly honored to serve you in the House and look forward to working with you during the 2018 legislative session.
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!