Keeping us safe and healthy
These are challenging times with the shutdown of state businesses and the need for people to stay at home while we flatten the curve on this pandemic. In the last few days of the legislative session, I supported an appropriation of $175 million to the Office of Financial Management to distribute to state and local agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. These funds will help small businesses with economic instability due to the shutdown and help get these businesses back on their feet when we get past the shutdown period.
Ensuring quality public schools
The state has made record investments in our public schools in the last few years. However, we need to make sure that money is used wisely and work to get those dollars into schools on the Peninsula. The public schools on the Peninsula work extremely hard to ensure a great education and security for our children, and they deserve the necessary resources to do so.
Retaining our timber economy
The Peninsula continues to be a draw for tourists and weekenders looking for recreational opportunities in the beautiful natural surroundings on the Peninsula including Olympic National Park. I will continue to balance the needs of our economy with the need to protect our environmental assets. I worked with our timber sector this year to pass legislation recognizing how a vibrant timber economy benefits carbon sequestration. Such legislation will help ensure we continue to have working forests and at the same time taking action on climate change.
Reducing toxins in our environment
As a firefighter, I know unsafe toxic flame retardants can build up in our drinking water and our natural environment. This year, I sponsored legislation phasing out the use of a toxic chemicals in firefighting foam and equipment that is known to contaminate natural water supplies and poses a heightened threat to pregnant women and small children as well as firefighters exposed to it in their work. Known to build up in the environment and in our bodies, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been found in wells used for drinking water on Whidbey Island, Issaquah, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and Airway Heights near Fairchild Air Force Base.
Reducing regulation on our small businesses
Our state government has to continue to work to streamline regulations on small businesses and boost local economies especially in rural Washington. This year, I worked to eliminate redundant and excessive licensing requirements when organizations like the Olympic Peninsula Winery Association host events to promote our terrific local wineries. This is no small change. The special occasion license that is currently required for each winery participating in a local event — with fees of $60 per event, per day, per winery — can cost a winery association more than $2,400 in total licensing fees for a single event. This change in law allows local wine industry associations to purchase a single, $700 license that will cover up to 12 events in a year — a considerable savings that should increase the ability of the state’s regional wine associations to promote local wines and wineries. I am always willing to work with our small business community to find more ways to streamline processes and eliminate unnecessary red tape to get our economy moving.
Our seniors should be able to retire with dignity. Unfortunately, many of the nursing homes in our area struggle to stay open with dwindling reimbursements forcing seniors to look for new opportunities for long term care. This challenge is only increased by the challenges of the coronavirus epidemic. I supported legislation that helps prevent residents in nursing homes from being displaced by stemming the closures of struggling homes by addressing Medicaid reimbursements that have fallen behind the actual costs of care. The last thing nursing home residents need is to have to find a new place to live in a high-demand market while their health is at extraordinary risk.