Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope you are well. A lot has been going on this interim. So, I wanted to take this opportunity to bring you up to date on a few things happening in our state and some of the things I've been working on as your state representative.
As you've probably heard by now, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced on Monday that most state workers in Washington, as well as private health care and long-term care employees, will be required to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination by Oct. 18, or lose their jobs. Our legislative offices are receiving many calls and emails about this mandate and Representative Skyler Rude and I released a statement yesterday in response to the governor's announcement.
I understand the importance of public health and protecting everyone in our state. However, the governor's recent mandate to terminate employment for those who choose not to be vaccinated is incredibly troubling, both from a legal and philosophical perspective.
The governor has the statutory power to prohibit activities during an emergency, but this has been interpreted as the authority to ban limitless activities, including gathering, traveling, and now employment, unless a person follows the governor's directives.
I do not believe it's within the governor's right to determine employment based on a person's personal choice to be vaccinated or not. This is another example of why the Legislature needs to limit the governor's emergency powers.
During the 2021 legislative session, majority party Democrats passed numerous police-reform bills that have made policing confusing and our communities less safe. Some of these measures disarmed the police and took away some of the important tools that officers use to de-escalate situations. It practically takes away their qualified immunity. These changes have created some dangerous consequences, and as a result, our communities and our law enforcement officers are at risk.
I strongly support our law enforcement community. I know the majority of our officers live up to the very high standards to which they are held. Most police officers are hard-working, dedicated, and honorable public servants, who put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe.
While there is need for some improvement, we need to find balanced solutions that protect individuals, communities, and our law enforcement officers. House Republicans are ready and prepared to convene a special session to fix these confusing and unbalanced reforms.
Although session ended in April, I have been involved in many legislative activities in the 16th District. Here are a few of the projects I've worked on so far, this interim:
- May 11: Attended a legislative meeting on electric grid reliability and how to get out in front of any issues.
- June 4: Participated in the Lewis Street Overpass groundbreaking ceremony and transportation tour in Pasco.
- June 16: Attended Benton, Franklin, Walla Walla Good Roads meeting to discuss district transportation needs.
- June 29: Participated in a local early learning roundtable at the Center for Children & Families.
- July 14: Toured the city of Walla Walla transportation projects.
- July 20: Met with the warden and staff of the Walla Walla Penitentiary, toured the facility, and discussed the implications of the Washington State Supreme Court Blake Decision that vacates charges of simple possession of a controlled substance.
- July 27: Met with College Place Police Chief Troy Tomaras, County Sheriff Mark Crider, and Walla Walla Police Captain Christopher Buttice to discuss the consequences and challenges of House Bill 1310, which concerns permissible uses of force by law enforcement and correctional officers.
- July 29: Met with Tri-County partners Habitat for Humanity to discuss the affordable homeownership options for low to moderate income residents in the district.
Additionally, in mid-August I will be attending the PNWER Summit. The PNWER Annual Summit is the leading forum where people in the policy world and the business world come together to figure out solutions to regional challenges. Regional legislators, business leaders, and key decision makers will come together in Big Sky, Montana, as well as virtually on August 15-19, 2021 to explore shared challenges in the region, discuss best practices, strengthen regional relationships, and develop action plans for addressing these challenges in the future.
Please Stay in Touch
Thank you so much for your continued input and support. I appreciate hearing from you, and I value your insight and opinions. Please continue to reach out to me via phone or email to share your ideas and concerns. My contact info is listed below.
It's an honor to serve you,