Legislative Update: News on My Bills + Community Projects + Town Hall on 3/18

Dear friends and neighbors,

Here at the Washington State Legislature, we’ve just finished our 10-day marathon of running bills on the House floor last night; and I’m happy to report that two of my bills are now headed to the Senate for further consideration. You can read vote tallies below on my bills that are advancing. Additionally, in this newsletter I’d also like to tell you all the wonderful things I’m doing that will specifically benefit the people of Whatcom County!

An Update on My Bills

Here’s a list of my bills that passed on the House floor and are now with the Senate for consideration.

  • HB 1679 passed off the House floor on March 1 with strong bipartisan support. The vote tally was 94-2.
  • HB 1717 passed off the House floor on March 4, also with strong bipartisan support, with a final vote tally of 90-6.

I am also letting you know what happened with HB 1363, my vehicular pursuits bill that I introduced in mid-January to address rising crime in our county and around the state. I  took your concerns to heart about how best to address it. After the bill was heard in the Community Safety, Justice & Reentry and Transportation committees, the bill had not been placed on the calendar for the House floor. The House Democratic Caucus voted to adhere to House rules and procedures and not force a vote on this bill. However, the debate is not over. I am working with bipartisan members of the House and Senate to deliver a pragmatic policy that works for everyone. The Senate also had a bill about pursuits, SB 5354, that passed off the Senate floor on Wednesday with a vote of 26-23 and is now under consideration in the House. I will work to support this bill and I promise to continue to work with members on both sides of the aisle to make sure your concerns are heard and addressed in an appropriate way.

Advancing Whatcom County Needs in the Capital Budget

Even when I am in Olympia doing the people’s work, my heart remains in Whatcom County.

As a member of the Legislature’s Capital Budget committee, I have ample opportunity to weigh in on projects such as roads and bridges, transit facilities, schools, economic development projects, environmental infrastructure, energy programs, and state facilities.

So, what’s on the docket for things I’m promoting in the capital budget that we need right here at home? I’ll highlight a few:

  • Increasing marine trade apprenticeships. The Lummi—one of two tribes who are at home in Whatcom County—are known for being fishing people. Many members of the tribe, as well as other fishermen in the area, work out of the Blaine marina as they leave for crabbing and other fishing activities in Alaska. Yet, like with some other industries, we’re seeing fewer and fewer young people interested in becoming marine service technicians that we need to help support those who fish. I’m working on increasing marine trade apprenticeships right here at home, so that we can avoid the “silver tsunami” we’re seeing in other professions. Marine trade apprenticeships make sense because they allow the current workforce to train the next generation, increase job opportunities, support our local communities, and celebrate and maintain our heritage while continuing to provide healthy food locally and for trade. My work has been around a funding request to support apprenticeships in partnership with the Working Waterfront Coalition and Bellingham Technical College.
  • Rebuilding the marina pier in Blaine. In addition to my hometown needing a new pier, I’m also working on a feasibility study with Drayton Harbor Oysters, the City of Blaine, the Port of Bellingham, and students to see whether we can build a facility that would support marine workforce development and aquaculture research on the same pier!
  • Expanding outdoor school programs. You may recall that last year my bill (HB 2078) to expand outdoor school programs became law last June. This year, I am building on that work to get even more kiddos outside to learn. My efforts for this work this year include my support of a capital budget request to continue to build out outdoor educational programming in our schools that will connect children to our environment. When our kids get their hands-on learning in the outdoors, they fall in love with nature and continue to care for it well into adulthood.

Join Us for a Town Hall

Please join Sen. Sharon Shewmake, Rep. Joe Timmons, and me for an in-person town hall from 1-2 p.m. on Saturday, March 18, at Ferndale High School (5830 Golden Eagle Dr.). We see this meeting as a chance for you to ask us questions and for us to update you on what we’re doing on your behalf in Olympia. Submitting questions in advance is encouraged so we know what’s important to you!

Click here to send in your questions. I look forward to seeing you there!

Best wishes,