Reflecting on session
In a recent op-ed featured in the Spokesman Review, Representatives Ormsby, Riccelli and I reflect on the historic 2021 legislative session, both it’s challenges and accomplishments. As we wrote in the article,
“When a crisis bears down, you can panic, ignore it and hope for the best, or confront it head-on.
We chose to confront the COVID-19 pandemic with every available legislative tool to protect and help workers, families, and small businesses that were hit hardest.”
Please see the full column here.
Now that the legislative session is over, we are fully settled into the period of time between sessions, called “interim”. Though we are all back to our day jobs, legislators stay plenty busy diving deeper into complex policy issues, connecting with the community, and working with stakeholders to prepare legislation for the next session.
I am looking forward to getting back to interim legislative activities. I will be hosting mobile office hours at some of the city’s farmers markets over the summer, touring community facilities and local businesses, and meeting one-on-one with constituents.
If you have an event or community project you think I should be aware of, please reach out to my office and let us know.
Three new Spokane middle schools are named
After a comprehensive process, the Spokane Public Schools Board selected the names for three new middle schools in Spokane. Here are the summaries on each of the school’s namesakes from the Spokane Public School’s press release:
Denny Yasuhara Middle School (Northeast) – “Mr. Yasuhara taught at both Logan Elementary and Garry Middle School. He was a civil rights activist during the course of his life. He also served as the president of the Spokane Coalition for Human Rights and was active within the Japanese community. According to an article, Mr. Yasuhara was a huge advocate for his students. While teaching at Logan, he would use money from his own paycheck to buy shoes, clothes and school supplies for his students in need. Several articles about Mr. Yasuhara all say the same thing: he left behind a legacy of fighting for all students, the hiring of minority teachers, fighting for justice for all.”
Pauline Flett Middle School (Northwest) – “Pauline was an elder in the Spokane Tribe who was determined that their Salish dialect would be written down, taught and preserved for future generations. She co-wrote the first Spokane-English dictionary and taught the language at EWU. Her notes are held in collections at EWU and the Smithsonian Institution. She was a pillar of the tribe’s language education programs, which include an immersion school for children in Wellpinit.”
Carla Peperzak Middle School (South) – “A Dutch Resistance operative and Holocaust freedom fighter during World War II, Carla Peperzak moved to Spokane in 2004. Now in her 90s, she has shared her story with students and others across the region in the hopes that education will prevent anything like the Holocaust from ever occurring again. She was honored in a 2015 state Senate resolution, and again in 2020 as Washingtonian of the Year.”
I have long been in awe of Carla’s bravery and am thankful to have had the opportunity to provide testimony for the school naming in her honor. I was also able to speak to Carla’s story in 2019 when she was awarded Washingtonian of the Year, you can watch that speech here.
Stay in Touch
I am glad to be back full-time in Spokane and am looking forward to a productive interim with our community. Stay safe and take care. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Andy.Billig@leg.wa.gov.