Dear friends and neighbors,

The first special session of the Legislature ended on May 28 and a second special session was immediately called by Gov. Jay Inslee and began the following day. Now over a week into the second special session, budget negotiations continue to be on-going until there is an Operating Budget compromise.

Town Hall Meeting on Monday, June 15 from 6 to 8 p.m.

vancouver libraryIt is important to me that we stay in touch. One of the ways for me to hear from you is to regularly hold Town Hall meetings. Please join me and Reps. Jim Moeller and Sharon Wylie for our next Town Hall Meeting on Monday, June 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Columbia Room at the Vancouver Community Library, 901 C Street, Vancouver, WA 98660.

You will have an opportunity to hear an update on what’s happening in Olympia, discuss issues important to the 49th Legislative District, and have an opportunity to ask questions and get some feedback on the 2015 Legislative Session.

I hope to see you there.



Making investments in our future – Fully funding our teachers and our students

I believe one of the pillars of a healthy community is access to high-quality educational opportunities, from early learning to higher education. That’s one of the main discussions around the Operating Budget – how much money are we going to invest in basic education? We must invest adequate resources to meet our Constitutional obligation to fully fund education.

I was very proud to stand with my fellow Democratic leaders, Gov. Inslee, and teachers from our district and across the state who gathered on the steps of the Capitol to call on the Legislature to fully fund funding rally

More than 4,000 educators attended the rally at the end of April. Those 4,000 voices were clearly heard and I hope that my colleagues were also listening

Discussions also continue here in Olympia regarding higher education, tuition rates and accessibility. I am committed to accessibility to higher education for Washington’s citizens.

Our state’s “GET Program” is a wonderfully successful tool available to families to pay for their children’s education. The beauty of this program is that a little money can be invested in a secure account, which accrues interest and is guaranteed to hold its value. It is available for students to use at any college or university.

This legislative session, SB 5954 would affect changes to the GET program, and although well-intended, I have grave concerns about the security and promise of GET. I added an amendment to SB 5954 to help ensure that any possible changes would not have negative unintended consequences. Our GET program MUST hold its value and promise that families have counted on. You can help ensure that this program remains viable by contacting members of the Senate and House Higher Education Committees to let them know you oppose any changes that might impact the GET program. Click here for link to the committee members.

Photo: (L to R) Lynn Maiorca, Vancouver Education Association President, Sen. Annette Cleveland, Susan VanHouten Vancouver Education Association Board Trustee, Rep. Sharon Wylie during the education funding rally in late April.

2015-17 Transportation Budget passes

Progress was recently made in reaching a compromise on a modest, bare-bones proposal that allows critical services such as ferries and the Washington State Patrol to continue operating. Because these crucial services need to be maintained, I cast my vote in favor of this supplemental transportation budget.

I was disappointed that funding for moving forward on replacement of the antiquated I-5 Bridge was not included in the proposal, despite efforts by many. I am hopeful that we can pursue a path forward. Addressing replacement of this aging piece of infrastructure must be a priority for our community, our region and our state.

I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the river to find a solution.

Protecting the Columbia River and our environment

Kennedy and ClevelandI recently had the great honor to speak at an event in support of the Columbia Riverkeeper’s 15th Anniversary and introduce acclaimed environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. He has spent most of his life in service to the environment to make sure that we are protecting our natural resources for generations to come.

The Columbia River is a national treasure that we need to continue to protect and preserve. Our community has depended upon the river for generations, and it is our responsibility now to protect this important resource for the future.

As a member of the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, I joined with a number of my colleagues to help craft and pass an oil transport safety bill. In 2011, we transported zero shipments of oil by rail. By 2013, 17 million barrels of oil was being transported by rail. Currently, in our state, approximately 20 mile-long unit trains a week cross our state. Nearly every one of these trains move through Vancouver, literally just a few feet from our downtown, numerous neighborhoods and schools, and the Columbia River. The safeguards the bill passed this session puts in place are needed now to better protect our community and river.

Photo courtesy of Columbia Riverkeeper: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sen. Annette Cleveland celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the Columbia Riverkeeper.

Please keep in touch

If you ever have any questions or comments about the legislative process or a state agency, please feel free to email me or contact my office.

Until next time,