Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This week, we pause to gather with friends and family to give thanks for the many blessings in our lives. I am particularly grateful to my family for their love and support. I am also grateful for the opportunity to serve you in the state House of Representatives. While we may be divided on some issues in the House, I believe we are all working toward the same goal: A bright and prosperous future for all Washingtonians. With that in mind, here is brief update on some recent happenings in Olympia.
Each November, the Legislature convenes for two days so members can meet with their respective committees. I serve as the ranking member on the House General Government and Information Technology Committee, which is responsible for the budgets of nearly 70 state agencies. During our recent meeting, we received updates from some of those agencies and began to look ahead to the 2016 legislative session.
I also serve on the House Appropriations Committee, which is responsible for writing the state's general operating budget. We received positive economic news indicating state revenue collections are steadily, but slowly, increasing. While that is good news, we must also be cautious as state agency caseloads for services such as mental health care and Medicaid are on the rise. In January, I'll be working with both committees to ensure we meet the needs of our state's most vulnerable, while being good stewards of our tax dollars.
As the 2016 legislative session nears, I am working with House staff to put the finishing touches on bills I intend to introduce. Earlier this fall, I visited with staff and residents at McNeil Island – a state-run rehabilitation center for sexually violent predators – to discuss ways to improve work conditions and resident outcomes. McNeil Island struggles to retain employees and is exceptionally expensive to operate. I will be introducing legislation in the coming weeks that will begin to address both issues. I look forward to sharing more information with you as we get closer to session.
If you have been following the news lately, you are probably aware of the rising threat of terrorist attacks across the world. The attacks in Paris earlier this month are a reminder that we are still vulnerable at home and need to remain vigilant. The ongoing crisis in Syria and much of the Middle East, has many concerned about the U.S. taking in thousands of refugees, many of whom cannot be properly vetted. I certainly sympathize with those who are victims of ISIS, but we must balance our desire to help with our obligation to protect Americans here at home. That is why I joined with my colleagues in the House in sending a letter to Gov. Inslee asking him to put the safety of Washingtonians first. Nationally, leaders from both parties in Congress have called for a pause as we determine the safest path forward, and I hope our governor follows that lead.
Last week, I was asked to make a few remarks at the Shelton High School National Honor Society induction ceremony. I was very impressed with the group of students selected for this honor and it is clear their teachers are doing an outstanding job preparing future leaders for our state and nation. Way to go, High Climbers!
Please take a moment to share your questions and comments with me regarding this update or other issues important to you. I hope you have a safe and relaxing holiday season.
From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!