Dear Friends and Neighbors,
On October 7th, the world witnessed a barbaric attack against the citizens of Israel that will go down in history as one of the darkest days for the Jewish state. Hamas terrorists indiscriminately targeted innocent noncombatants, including women, children, and the elderly. The victims and their families are in my prayers.
I will be supporting a Joint Memorial, along with my fellow House Republicans, on the first day of the next legislative session calling on Congress to provide full and unequivocal support to Israel to defend the historic Jewish homeland, rescue American hostages, and bring Hamas to justice.
On Sunday, I joined more than 100 people at Riverfront Park to rally in support of Israel and in solidarity with the Jewish community against antisemitism.
New Spokane County Sheriff’s Regional Training Center
After 17 years of vision, collaboration, and hard work, former Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich returned to Spokane to help cut the ribbon of the new 75,000 square foot regional law enforcement training center. This state-of-the-art facility includes a 21-lane live fire indoor shooting range, virtual simulators, 50-foot helicopter tower, K-9 training grounds, class rooms, conference rooms, a fully padded hands on de-escalation training room, recruiting area, and much more.
This training center is a first in the nation because it is a joint-use facility with Fairchild Air Force Base (AFB) and took the changing of federal law to allow the partnership. The military paid 80% of the building cost and Spokane County paid the rest. No state or city funds were used to build this center, but a planned extension of 15 more shooting lanes and a closed defensive driving course will allow more officers from across the state and country to train here. On the House Capital Budget Committee, I will be supporting the expansion. Going forward, the Air Force will be paying for 70% of the operating costs as they learn to work closer with local and state law enforcement. This is a great partnership and is a model for the nation to follow.
During my opening day visit of the training center, I was honored to join the group of visiting dignitaries, a former sheriff, and other elected officials, along with the Fairchild Base Commander, to perform the ceremonial first shoots to open the range.
Helping fire victims
The state has contributed more than $4 million to help those affected by the Gray and Oregon Road fire, including exhausting the emergency fund available to the executive branch, according to the governor. These funds were a request from the affected community to help with the hazard testing required and removal of debris.
The governor also sent a letter earlier this month asking Biden for federal aid, which could prove difficult because aid is currently restricted to victims of destructive natural disasters, like hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes, but not wildfires.
We will keep you updated with the latest information on what the state is doing to help with the recovery and work toward solutions in the upcoming legislative session. If you have any ideas or suggestions about what more the state can do, please contact my office.
December town hall meetings
Rep. Suzanne Schmidt and I will be hosting two town hall meetings in December.
The first meeting will include Spokane County Assessor Tom Konis, and will be held in the Elk area with a focus on the Oregon Road fire recovery efforts, and to get a clear understanding of the community’s needs before we head back to Olympia.
The additional meeting will be held in Spokane Valley and focus on the upcoming 60-day legislative session and our joint efforts to address the many issues affecting our district and state. Stay tuned for more details.
Association of Washington Business Manufacturing Week tour
This month, I participated in the Association of Washington Business Manufacturing Week tour alongside business owners and fellow lawmakers. Manufacturing is critically important to Washington’s economy and our national security, and I was impressed that we have so much manufacturing happening right here in the 4th District. I was told while touring Honeywell that if you own a smartphone, chances are some of the metals used for the chips in that phone came from Spokane Valley.
On the tour, we visited Wagstaff Inc. – the winner of the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce’s 2023 Manufacturing Excellence Award For Manufacturer Of The Year. Wagstaff has been operating for more than 77 years and is a global leader and innovator in aluminum production and very involved in vocational programs in our school districts. Spokane Valley is fortunate to have this company committed to our region.
During my two-day Avista Academy tour, I was impressed by the innovation and actions they are taking to prevent wildfires and ensure we have reliable access to power. They can turn the power lines’ amperage down from the control center and not let them reset, making them less likely to start a fire in windstorms and dry conditions.
As the state mandates a transition away from traditional sources of energy toward wind and solar, officials at Avista are concerned about our inability to meet future capacity, especially with the growth of electric vehicles. As we’ve seen in states like California, transitioning too quickly can lead to rolling brown and blackouts as power grids fail to meet demand. I will be working with our local power companies for the right strategy for our cleaner future.
WA has the highest state minimum wage in the country
On January 1st the minimum wage in Washington will increase to $16.28. We currently have the highest minimum wage in the country. Increasing it further poses a unique challenge for our local businesses as they struggle to keep up with rising costs. It will also increase the cost of childcare, restaurants, groceries, and virtually every other good and service.
As a border region, Spokane Valley sees heavy traffic flow to and from Idaho where the minimum wage is only $7.25 per hour. We need sensible policies here that don’t incentivize businesses to move across the border or cause more inflation in our goods and services. With the congestion issues we’re facing, I will be encouraging Washington DOT to consider adding a third lane to Interstate 90 from Barker Road to the state line to improve your commute.
- My legislative website | Find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, videos, opinion pieces, bills, and other information.
- The Capitol Buzz | A weekday roundup of online news stories.
- The Current | An online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans.
- TVW | TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
- The Ledger | A legislative news aggregator.
- Legislature’s website | Bill reports, committee agendas, and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature here.
- State agencies | List of all state agencies, boards, and commissions here.
- Participating in the Process | Information about how you can participate in the legislative process.
Please contact me if you have any questions, concerns, or comments. I work for you all year long and I encourage your feedback. I am here to serve you and everyone in the 4th Legislative District.
It’s an honor to serve you.