Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It is a busy time of year – kids are back in school and athletics and after-school activities are in full-swing, summer vacations are over, and we are preparing our homes and yards for the cold season around the corner. That said, if you have time this Wednesday I would encourage you to attend a brief one-hour assembly honoring Liberty Christian School staff and students. They participated with the United States Army Washington National Guard in “Operation Evergreen Ember,” a statewide emergency response exercise earlier this summer. The students and staff played a vital role in providing real-world training for the soldiers and airmen of the Washington CERFP (Enhanced Response Force Package of Soldiers who Specialize in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives).
To honor their work, the National Guard and I are holding a Special Recognition Assembly. Army National Guard Col. James Rollins will be presenting Certificates of Appreciation. Here are the details of the assembly:
Wednesday, Sept. 25, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Liberty Christian School
2200 Williams Blvd., Richland, Wash. 99354
Students helped in rescue and recovery operations, mass casualty decontamination, medical triage and treatment. Their participation allowed the Washington National Guard response team to train as they fight. The students and staff went above and beyond the call of duty to assist with this training. The assembly is open to anyone who wants to attend. I hope to see you there.
Senate Transportation Committee co-chairs Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, and Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, have been hosting a statewide “listening tour” around Washington to gain support for a possible tax plan for transportation projects. The tour will be in the Tri-Cities this week. Here is the information for the forum in our region:
Thursday, Sept. 26, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Columbia Basin College, Gjerde Center, 2600 N. 20th Ave., Pasco, WA 99301
I urge you to attend and share your comments, concerns and questions. Our state has maintenance and new infrastructure needs in its transportation system. Our state will eventually need a transportation revenue package to address these needs. However, it must be the right package and it is imperative we put reforms in place first. How can the state ask for more money without first implementing reforms? We have seen some recent transportation project boondoggles (off-ramp built in the wrong place, problems with ferries, the 520 floating bridge has had many flaws) and it is only fair we show taxpayers we are working to correct those before a large gas tax increase is considered.
Some of the reforms we proposed during the session include:
- House Bill 1236 would require state agencies to make a permit decision in 90 days or the permit is granted. This would add certainty, eliminate unnecessary delays in the permitting process and stimulate economic activity.
- House Bill 1619 would suspend Growth Management Act requirements in counties with persistently-high unemployment, where regulations often stand in the way of economic development.
- House Bill 1985 would exempt future state transportation projects from state and local sales and use tax – maximizing state gas tax dollars.
- House Bill 1986 would require WSDOT to report to the Legislature on engineering errors and mistakes that exceed $500,000. The report would need to explain how it happened, the department of the responsible employee(s), what corrective action was taken, and what actions the transportation secretary recommends to avoid similar errors in the future.
- House Bill 1984 would limit WSDOT's tort liability based on the amount of the department's actual fault, instead of allowing plaintiffs to recover the entire judgment from the deeper pockets of the state.
- House Bill 1989 would limit bond terms for transportation projects to 15 years.
Please let me know if you have any questions. I hope to see you at the events this week.
It is an honor to serve you! Have a great Washington day!