E-Newsletter: Opening Day and Protecting Island School Districts

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Like many of you, I watched last Wednesday as news came in about a series of events never before seen in America. I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the violence, lawlessness, and insurrection in Washington D.C. And I condemn and hold accountable the leaders who incited it. Their words and actions have betrayed our nation and democracy itself.

Nonetheless, I’m proud our country was able to withstand a direct assault on the peaceful transition of power. I’m proud that after being attacked, our Congress was strong enough to regroup and finish their work of certifying the election.

This week in Olympia, we had an opening ceremony and adopted rules that will allow us to meet remotely. We were prepared to do so under the cloud of COVID, with care taken for social distancing. But I had not expected to have to pass through cordons of National Guard soldiers because of the threat of armed protesters, many of whom have flouted laws and principles of peaceful protest. I am relieved and happy to report that everything went according to plan on Monday, but I hope that we never have to start a session in this manner ever again. I am glad that in both Washington DC and in our state, some of the leaders who had tolerated, enabled, and participated in the misinformation campaign that led to this violence have veered away. Unfortunately, many have not. I will continue to insist that they be held accountable.

National Guard solider stand behind a fence in front of the steps of the Washington State Capitol

Protecting Our Small Island School Districts

This week we brought together leaders in the House Education and Appropriations committees to hear from school board members of the Lopez Island School District. In recent years, Washington has moved to fully fund basic education at the state level, and limit local levies to avoid inequalities between wealthy and low-income school districts. Every child in Washington deserves a top-quality education, but there was an unintended consequence that has impacted small school districts, especially those with conditions that tend to happen on islands. That has meant significant revenue impacts for San Juan, Orcas, and Anacortes School districts. Lopez School District has been especially hard hit.

The 40th District team has been talking to these districts since before I started this job, but the presentation and discussion last Thursday helped convey the severity of issue for this community to leaders in the Legislature most able to help us find solutions. I’m committed to doing everything we can to support all of our schools.

This week our committee meetings are starting up. We’re adjusting to the procedures to work together remotely, and have certified the results of our statewide the elections. I will also be finalizing several bills before I introduce them, I look forward to sharing the details with you next week.

In Service,