The end of the 2019 legislative session is just around the corner. This week we’ve finished passing House bills in the Senate focusing on policies and programs that support our communities’ quality of life and safeguard the environment. In the remaining days, we’ll finalize the state budgets – operating, capital, and transportation – to invest in the programs and services that will put people first.

Here are some important bills we’ve passed in the last few days:

Finalizing purchase of Blanchard Mountain

The Senate’s bipartisan passage of HB 2119 will streamline the creation of the Harriet A. Spanel State Forest. This is a critical component of finalizing the transfer of timber land — including public and private lands — in Blanchard Mountain. So many community members have been working to preserve and designate this one-of-a-kind location. This bill is one small step in completing the hard work of many and ensures the purchase of forestland to permanently protect the Oyster Dome for future generations. I’m grateful for the efforts of legislators representing Whatcom and Skagit counties to make this happen, including Rep. Lekanoff, Rep. Morris, and Sen. Wagoner.

Expanding access to nutritious foods

As we all know, processed foods cost a lot less than organic produce, so it’s important to remove barriers to nutritious foods. We passed HB 1587 to increase access to fruits and veggies. This is so important for our families, our farms, and our communities. Our Anacortes Farmers’ Market was one of the first to start EBT access, and I’m glad this bill will expand on our efforts to increase access to healthy foods at farmers’ markets, grocery stores and elsewhere around the state.

Finalizing State Budgets

Budget writers from the Senate and House are in a conference process to negotiate the differences in the versions that passed each chamber and pass final budgets before the end of the legislative session on April 28.

In the Senate, we focused on education, climate initiatives and orca protection, investments to address housing and homelessness, expansion of college scholarship programs, expanded access to early learning, and improving the foster care system. More than half of the state budget pays for K-12 education, honoring commitments made to increase basic education funding.

As part of our education funding, I worked closely with Sen. Wagoner and Sen. Van De Wege to ensure rural schools — like those in our districts — get the most out of timber harvests. I’ll be watching this process closely to ensure every school gets the state funding it needs.

Town Hall May 4

I’m excited to share all our wonderful achievements with you at an end of session town hall in Friday Harbor. Join me to discuss the 2019 legislative session.

As always, please let me know if you have questions and concerns. I hope you can join me for my town hall!

What: Town Hall covering the 2019 legislative session

When: Saturday, May 4 from 3:00 – 4:30 pm

Where: Brickworks Event Center

              150 Nichols St.

              Friday Harbor, WA 98250

All the best,