Here in the first part of August, we’re approximately midway through the “interim” period between the end of this year’s legislative session and the January start of the 2019 session. But although we’re not in session, the meetings and appointments on my calendar still include plenty of legislative business. Here are a few examples from the past month that specifically have to do with Clark County or are related to my interest in better government:
- Promoting government accountability: The Senate and House of Representatives each have standing committees to address specific policy areas. I’m on two in the Senate: Labor & Commerce, and Law & Justice. Some of us also serve on groups that are outside the set of policy committees; I’m on five of those, including the second-oldest group on the list: the bipartisan Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee, which was created in 1951 (only the Horse Racing Commission has been around longer – since 1933). This group is essentially an agency of its own, with a staff, because it is responsible for conducting performance audits that focus on promoting effective, efficient and accountable government. using their resources efficiently and properly. I was recently appointed vice chair of JLARC and look forward to this larger role on our 16-legislator group, which met most recently on July 18 (click here for the agenda).
- Learning about crop protection: A controversial bill about pesticide application came before us this year in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee. Pesticide management falls mostly under the state Department of Agriculture, but Senate Bill 6529 would have handed a significant amount of new regulatory power to the state Department of Health – yet that agency didn’t testify in favor of the proposal at our committee hearing. A huge number of calls and messages that came into my office about the bill, which ultimately was scaled back to a study; for that reason, and because I expect to see similar legislation in coming years, I spent part of a week in late July on a tour organized by the state Commission on Pesticide Registration (see photos). It took us from the Yakima Valley to the Walla Walla Valley and several points in between, where we saw probably every sort of crop grown in any quantity in south-central and southeast Washington, and got up to speed about products used to keep the pests away. There’s nothing like getting out into the field – literally, in this case – to learn about an issue that concerns a cornerstone of the state economy.
- Tracking natural-resource issues: My interest in protecting salmon had me joining other policymakers and agency staff from Washington and Oregon on a May visit to Bonneville Dam, to see firsthand the losses of salmon to sea lions. Similarly, my interest in waterfowl had me meeting with others recently regarding our local Shillapoo Wildlife Area. The Shillapoo was established back in 1952 for habitat protection and bird hunting, and the state’s efforts to improve habitat there are understandably of interest to the hunting and outdoor-recreation communities. My role at the moment is to keep track of what’s going on with the Shillapoo and what may be proposed – and to help bring people together where I can.
I’m out and about in our district all the time, so if you see me please say hello!
Yours in service,