Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have been out of the legislative session for less than two months but legislative news and headlines continue to get attention. The Washington State Supreme Court recently ruled it will fine the state Legislature $100,000 per day for violating the court's McCleary decision on funding education. The court is also demanding the Legislature return to Olympia for another special session.
The court has overstepped their authority. The court and the Legislature are two different branches of government. The doctrine of separation of powers means that neither the governor nor a judge may interfere with legislative business. I would add that the court cannot levy the fine without legislative approval, which they will not get from the Legislature.
We did some good work on education last session including:
- investing about $1.3 billion in K-12 education, the state's largest education budget in history;
- reducing class sizes in grades K-3; and
- providing a cost-of-living raise for teachers.
It was all done without creating another unsustainable budget, like we have seen in the past.
It is more important for us as lawmakers to get the McCleary and education funding plan right, rather than quickly put a plan together to appease the courts. Legislative leaders from both parties and chambers are working to come up with a solution-oriented plan to address education funding well into the future. We are on track.
Our state and particularly central and eastern Washington has been ravaged by wildfires this summer. First, I wish to extend my thoughts and prayers to the families of those who died last week. They died protecting us and our homes and communities. I wish a speedy recovery for those who have been injured. I have been on the front lines of the fires in Chelan and Okanogan County areas. Our first responders need to be commended for their efforts. They have done an incredible job.
We must continue the discussion on forest management and fire suppression so we can prevent and minimize these events in the future.
I would also encourage people to support our local business people in Chelan and the Methow Valley. They are losing their summer income and facing difficult times.
At this stage of the fires I am sure many of you have emergency numbers available. Here is a short list and also a link to a very detailed map of the fire situation I have used to monitor what is happening.
- Washington wildfire mapping support
- Okanogan County Emergency Information: (509) 422-7348
- Chelan County Emergency Management: (509) 667-6863
- Red Cross: 509-670-5331
For those who want to help fire victims financially, The Community Foundation of North Central Washington operates the Chelan Valley Fire Relief Fund. For more information go to cfncw.org. They assist with long-term aid to those who've lost property or suffered due to the fires.
To provide assistance to survivors of firefighters who've died in the line of duty, and those recovering from injuries, you can submit donations to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. More information can be found at wffoundation.org.
If you need to discuss legislative issues or state government please do not hesitate to contact me. I am also available to speak or attend events.