Legislative updates – starting with aluminum smelter workers

Dear friends and neighbors,

Sometimes it is our good work together, that makes the difference. When Intalco closed, I was devastated to see the number of families that lost good paying jobs. It is so hard for a parent to come home, share that kind of news and sit with the sleepless nights ahead. Rep. Shewmake, local officials, Port Commissioners and I have been working hard to see how we can get folks back to work.

I’m happy to announce that our hard work is paying off. Yesterday, the capital budget proposal from the Senate was announced and there is over $10.7 million to support the retrofitting of aluminum smelter so it can be renovated for energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact, encourage private investment, and ultimately reopen.

That is not the end of the story though. The House will make its own proposal and there is a lot of work ahead to make sure this investment is prioritized in the final capital budget that the legislature will approve in the next twenty days. Even with this investment, there will need to be further negotiations to confirm ownership and reopening. I will be fighting for this investment and our smelter families the whole way.

I’m excited to share more investments in our community as the capital, operating and transportation budgets roll out in the next week or two. Looking forward to sharing all the ways we are moving forward!

Update on bills

I’m excited to report that all of my legislative priorities made it through the policy cutoff on Tuesday. That means the fight continues in the Senate for more nurses and counselors in schools (HB 1664), emergency grants for small businesses and farmers to recover from natural disasters (HB 1957 & HB 2051), and more outdoor education for kids across the state (HB 2078).

I will be advocating for all these policies to pass. The pandemic and recent flooding have been tremendously challenging. But they present us with an opportunity to learn from the pain and build a better future.

Shovel-ready project for rural economies

Construction begins on the ORLA School on Boulevard in Olympia, WA.

Rural economies have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Shovel-ready projects would go a long way toward helping these communities rebuild. That is why I voted for House Bill 1958 last week. This legislation will encourage and increase rural economic development and will help rural communities participate in the recovery on a more level playing field.

It gives the Community Economic Revitalization Board more flexibility to provide planning program grants to achieve shovel-ready status and removes the cap on program planning grants.

This additional flexibility means we are fast-tracking shovel-ready programs in our rural communities – helping them recover from the effects of the pandemic.

Best wishes,