Dear friends and neighbors,

We have cleared the first real hurdle of the 2015 Legislative Session ‑ policy cutoff. Policy cutoff means that bills would have to make it out of the committee they were assigned in order to keep moving through the process. Our next deadline is the fiscal cutoff at the end of this week and bills will have to make it out of the Ways & Means Committee to move forward. Currently, I have bills that are waiting to get to a vote on the floor and bills in the Ways & Means Committee.

Honoring the legacy of Rep. Val Ogden

Each biennium, the legislature holds a memorial service in remembrance of all the former legislators who have passed on. This year we honored the life and legislative career of 49th LD Rep. and House Speaker Pro-Tempore Val Ogden. Val was a mentor to all three of us representing the 49th, and we each carry dear memories of her. It was truly an honor for us to carry a white rose and light a candle in her memory.

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I continue to fight for your transportation needs

The transportation package is advancing through the legislative process and we could soon see it on the floor for a vote. While I’m always a staunch supporter of investing in infrastructure, those investments need to be fair and balanced. It is impossible for me to support a 16-year funding package that does not address our community’s most pressing need – replacement of the nearly 100 year old I-5 bridge between Vancouver and Portland. A great deal of effort has been put toward that goal through decades of work, unanimous approval by 39 stakeholders, approval by necessary local entities and funding commitments from the FTA and the State of Oregon. By the end of the proposed transportation package in 2031, the bridge will be over 114 years old and will be in even more serious need of repair and replacement.

Now is the time to make good on our promise to fund what our legislature failed to do two years ago. While we delay addressing this situation our state, our region and community waits. The blow that has been dealt to our community due to the failure to fund replacing the bridge will be felt for generations to come. Lack of replacement of the I-5 bridge means continued accidents, congestion and an inability to efficiently move freight and goods through the corridor and into our state. Even more devastating are the jobs that won’t materialize for our community as a result of the direct investment in an I-5 bridge replacement.

I am committed to working with my colleagues to address this critical need and move our state forward with a transportation package that best positions us for a stronger economy, cleaner environment and a healthier future.

 Your voice matters

I greatly enjoy the friends and constituents from home who have come to Olympia this session to visit or to participate in the legislative process. Your voice and your input is critical in helping to advance measures that will help our community.

Last week we had a special visit by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray who was home during the Congressional recess. It was incredibly valuable to be able to talk to her about issues like health care, transportation, and bills like the Equal Pay Opportunity Act. We are so fortunate to have her leadership in the United States Senate.

Until next time,