Dear friends and neighbors,

The Legislature adjourned two days early as no budget solution was reached within the time frame of the regularly scheduled 105-day legislative session. The requirements we needed to fulfill in order to be finished with the session were not met.

We still do not have an adopted final plan to fully fund K-12 education in our state to satisfy the State Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling, a final balanced Operating Budget, a Transportation Budget or a Capital Budget.

Gov. Inslee called the legislature back for a Special Session today, Wednesday, April 29. Budget negotiators began their meetings on Monday in an effort to gain momentum on a final Operating Budget.

While technically we may be called back for another special session, I sincerely hope that we are able to complete what we need to get done in the next 30 days.

VIDEO UPDATE: A strong oil transportation safety must be a priority for our community and state

oil trainsIn my most recent video update, I discuss an issue of vital importance to our community – the need for a strong oil transportation safety bill to protect our communities and our environment. Despite passage of a compromise bill, I will continue to advocate for more protections for oil transport on the Columbia River, through residential areas and downtown Vancouver.

Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of UW and WSU branch campuses

In 1989 the Legislature passed a bill that established five new university campuses – UW Bothell, UW Tacoma, WSU Spokane, WSU Tri-Cities, and WSU Vancouver. These campus extensions allow more students the ability to earn bachelors and graduate degrees closer to home.

At the time, this effort was not without its controversy. Sen. Al Bauer, the 49th LD Senator at the time, was a driving force behind the efforts to expand the campuses. Our leaders kept their focus on the future and what was ultimately best for the citizens of this state.

WSU Vancouver has become a hub of research and innovation. In the 25 years since the passage of the branch campus bill, and the subsequent founding of the WSUV campus, countless students have expanded their knowledge and broadened their opportunities as a result of being able to pursue their higher education goals in our community. The campus is integral to Southwest Washington and Vancouver.

I was very pleased to stand in support of Senate Resolution 8633. You may view my speech on the Senate floor here.

Senate Capital Budget proposal includes critical projects for the 49th

There are many projects included in the Capital Budget proposal that will benefit every district in our state and I worked diligently to see that funding for projects that will have a positive impact in our district and community were included in the proposal.

Some of the highlighted projects for the 49th Legislative District include:

  • $3.5 million for the Vancouver Waterfront Development Project;
  • $29.9 million in funding for the Health and Advanced Technology Building at Clark College;
  • $1.14 million for general campus preservation and construction of an independent living cottage at the State School for the Blind; and
  • $1.2 million in new funding for a Clark County Aging Resource Center.

Making infrastructure investments in our communities is the fastest way to help spur economic development. I am especially pleased to have the Vancouver Waterfront Development Project receive full funding. This is a project that I worked hard to have included in the Capital Budget and am working to have it included in the final budget.

The project will help better ensure a vibrant Vancouver for the future, and will further define our community and region as one of opportunity. Waterfront along the Columbia River that has been inaccessible to the community for over a century will be reopened. The Vancouver Waterfront Development Project will change the face of our waterfront and further enhance the quality of life our community is known for.

The Capital Budget proposal broken out by legislative district may be viewed here.

Sponsoring Equal Pay amendments to the Operating and Capital Budgets

This session I sponsored a bill that would update the state’s 72 year old Equal Pay Act. While the bill did not move and the House-passed bill died in the Senate, I did offer two amendments on the Senate floor that were aimed at addressing this issue.

floor vote

The Equal Pay Opportunity Act had a hearing in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee before a critical deadline, but because a hearing on the cutoff day was cancelled, the bill died in the committee.

During late night debate on amendments to the Operating Budget proposal on April 2-3, I offered an amendment that would have required state contracts to have a provision to pay women fairly. As a result of a reinstated Senate rule, the amendment needed 30 votes to pass instead of a simple majority of 25. My amendment received 29 votes – just one vote shy of passing.

I also offered a similar amendment to the Capital Budget and was pleased to receive support for the amendment from a few Republican women and the Senate Majority Leader. I am working to make sure that equal pay for equal work will be included in the final Capital Budget.

While we have come so far on advancing women’s rights we must do more.

On average, women in Washington state earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man in the same position. If we continue at the same rate of progress without changing our state policy, women in our state will not achieve pay equity until 2071! That is far too long to wait.

Boys & Girls Club Southwest Washington Youth of the Year – Fabiola Flores

I recently attended the Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year recognition breakfast at the Governor’s Residence to honor students across our state who have made significant contributions to their communities and Boys & Girls Clubs across our state.

Cleveland and Flores

This year, the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Washington named Fabiola Flores as Youth of the Year. Fabiola has been a member of the Club for four years and is a senior at Hudson’s Bay High School. Club staff describe Fabiola as one of the most humble, driven, passionate, kind and confident young women they have encountered. I was so proud to have presented her with this award for her outstanding accomplishments. Congratulations!

I am honored to serve as your representative in Olympia. As we continue our work throughout this Special Session, please continue to contact me, or my office with your questions, comments and concerns. I always look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time,