Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I write to you from my office in Olympia as the 2011 Legislative Session is now underway. Over the next 105 days, legislation will be proposed, debated and passed that can – and will – have an impact on your life. As always, I encourage you to contact me via phone, e-mail or letter to let me know your thoughts on issues throughout the session.
This year, I have been chosen by my colleagues to serve as the ranking Republican on the House Higher Education Committee. Higher Education is a passion of mine and I'm extremely grateful to be placed in this position. I will also serve on the Technology, Energy and Communications Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.
I want to thank the many of you who have already contacted me. My office is receiving hundreds of messages from the legislative hotline and e-mail system. Of course, the budget – and the expected cuts that are coming – occupy a good majority of what's on people's minds.
Our state has a projected $4.5 – $5 billion shortfall for the 2011-13 Biennium. I believe unfettered spending in Olympia has combined with a down economy to bring us to the point where some very difficult, but necessary, decisions will have to be made. Some of our most vulnerable citizens, along with our school-age and college-age students are going to be hit hard by these actions.
Obviously, I alone, cannot fix the budget. However, I will do my best to fight against those cuts that will have such devastating effects on my constituents.
As the session progresses, I'll continue to update you on the budget negotiations and the different proposals that come forward.
I'll also update you on legislation I'm proposing. I've already proposed a constitutional amendment (HJR 4202) that would allow hydropower to be considered a renewable resources. Washington is one of the only states in the nation that fails to legally recognize abundant hydropower as a “renewable resource” when setting alternative energy goals and priorities.
I want to thank Mackenzie Sack from Kennewick for serving as a Legislative Page this week. Mackenzie did a great job in his duties and I know he learned a lot about the legislative process.
And thanks again for choosing me to be your voice in Olympia. My office door is always open and I always appreciate visitors from back home. Just check with my Legislative Assistant, Jan Swenson, and we'll be sure to make time for a visit.