I just wanted to share a quick update on the Skagit River Bridge situation.
The impact on our community has been huge. Businesses in Mount Vernon and Burlington are reporting losses of thousands of dollars and sometimes even the majority of their customers. The trucking industry is taking a huge beating, which results in further damage to our local economy as well as businesses around the state and beyond. And those of us driving to and from the Oak Harbor area and elsewhere have to deal with the extra traffic.
These are just some of the people and groups who are hurting. Several people have been leaving comments about their experiences with this situation and tips for others on my Facebook page. You can join the conversation as well by clicking here.
Temporary bridge span set to be in place June 21st
The current plan to solve the situation is to build a temporary bridge span that should be in place by June 21st. A permanent fix is planned for this fall, but the immediate goal is to get traffic, commerce and people moving once again.
You can watch a brief animation of how the temporary bridge span will be put in place by clicking the image below:
Until the temporary fix is in place, I would recommend taking a look at the traffic cameras setup to watch the detour routes before heading out on the roads. You can find them by clicking here.
Update on Legislation
I am pleased that Governor Inslee has recently signed some bills that I sponsored into law. Two of them aim to make the lives of our brave military men and women a little easier. As a proud mother and wife to active and retired servicemen, these bills are important to me, just like they are important to many others in the 10th District.
- Senate Bill 5343 protects college students from penalties when they are absent from school due to military service for 30 days or less.
- Senate Bill 5114 will require school districts to allow military recruiters on campus so students can access more comprehensive information when planning for their futures after high school.
- Senate Bill 5472 authorizes Western Washington University to offer doctorate degrees in audiology.
- Senate bill 5416 will allow certain medical prescriptions to be electronically transmitted.
- Senate Bill 5113, a bill inspired by one of my constituents, will enforce speed limits within condominium and apartment communities.
I’m glad these bills made it through the entire legislative process and will be working hard to make sure the rest of the special session is used productively as well.
|Picture Source: KOMO News|
Like many of you, I found it hard to believe when I heard that the I-5 bridge over the Skagit river collapsed Thursday night. Thankfully, no lives were lost, but 3 people were injured and the impact on the area’s transportation system is huge.
I have been busy working with other officials who are trying to piece together what happened, why, and what can be done. I’m sure this is something that we’ll all be discussing for some time. Please feel free to share your comments with me. Send your emails to email@example.com. I will provide additional updates as they come available.
Yesterday, I sent out a statement along with my seatmates, Reps. Norma Smith and Dave Hayes. You can read it by clicking here.
Special Session Update
Back in the capitol, we’re now through our second week of the Legislature’s 30-day special session. While there’s not yet much new to report, we, along with key leadership in the House, are in the midst of negotiating an operating budget. An agreement needs to be reached by the end of the special session and, by statute, must be in place by July 1st.
The Senate Majority Coalition set out at the beginning of the now-completed regular session to prioritize job creation and pass a budget proposal that funds education first, balances the budget and protects our most vulnerable without additional taxpayer money. Not everyone in the Legislature was in complete agreement, which is why we are now in Special Session. But those same goals remain my priority during the days ahead.
Want to Learn More?
The Washington Policy Center’s Jason Mercier wrote an op-ed with some smart solutions to the budget dilemma. Click here to take a look!
Look for more updates
Due to the events of this week, I feel it is important to focus on how we get our community back on its feet. I have been meeting with state and local leaders discussing the immediate needs as they relate to community impact, business accessibility and long term economic consequences. I will keep you updated as situations and decisions emerge.
I will provide a legislative update on my bills that have been signed by the Governor in the next newsletter.
Keep Their Sacrifice In Our Memory
Last, but certainly not least, I hope you all have a blessed Memorial Day Weekend. Take some time to remember the courage and sacrifice of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe and free. We truly cannot appreciate them enough.
The 2013 Legislative Session adjourned “Sine Die” on Sunday, April 28. Latin for “without day,” Sine Die is the traditional name for the conclusion of legislative sessions. Ironically, the Legislature ended without a budget deal and will indeed return for another day—May 13—for a Special Session.
The Senate Health Care Committee
The Regular Session ran 105 days—plenty of time for us to get our business done. I’m proud to say that the Senate did what we promised: the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus passed its bipartisan operating budget on April 5th.The Senate’s proposal balances the state budget, increases funding to basic and higher education and protects Washington’s most vulnerable citizens—all without increasing taxes or extending temporary taxes.
In a recent press conference, the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus announced it had completed its goals for the session and that the Senate members were ready and available to work with the House to come to a budget agreement and end the Regular Session on time. The Senate’s proposal does what we promised to do when we began in January–prioritize jobs, education and the budget.
Unfortunately, the House wasn’t even ready to hash out a budget deal until less than a week before session ended, when it passed its spending proposal. The House’s approach is much different than the Senate’s—theirs relies on about $900 million in tax increases. The vast difference between these two proposals made striking a deal in such a short time nearly impossible.
Washington citizens have made it clear—they do not support higher taxes. In fact, in my last e-newsletter I asked my readers which budget they preferred and 80% chose the Senate’s. Here are the results:
I am looking forward to working with members of both parties to find a compromise budget that does not raise taxes on hardworking Washingtonians but still balances the budget.
Bill to Provide State Employees New Pension Option Passes Senate
In other news, before leaving for home, the Senate passed a bill I sponsored that would give state employees more choices and flexibility in planning for their futures. Although our State has one of the best pension systems in the country, Senate Bill 5851 would allow employees the opportunity to choose a retirement plan that best suits their lifestyles and individual goals. What’s important about this legislation is that it provides state employees a viable retirement planning option—it’s not a mandate.
The bill passed the Senate and is currently waiting to be heard in the House. The upside of the Special Session is that it allows time for good bills such as this one to still be heard, and time for Washingtonians to get informed and voice their opinions on the budget.
As always, please keep in touch—feedback from my constituents is vital for me to represent you well.