Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we admire the beauty of the Pacific Northwest during the peak of fall foliage, it reminds me that change is the only constant. It gives me hope for something new.
It has been wonderful seeing the community come together to enjoy fields of sunflowers, bountiful orchards, and participating in the many other fall activities our region has to offer. As we continue to enjoy the season, I look forward to visiting with many of you and discussing solutions to the problems throughout our state.
We are only a few short months away from the 2024 legislative session in January. During even-numbered years, the Legislature meets for 60-days to work on a supplemental budget. Supplemental budgets make adjustments and additions to the previously adopted two-year budget. This will be a fast-paced session and I encourage you to stay involved.
High gas prices
Washington state now has the second highest gas prices in the nation behind California. While there are many factors involved in the price of gasoline, the state’s new cap-and-trade program has undoubtedly been a major contributing factor to the recent spike we’ve seen. Cap-and-trade programs are designed to reduce carbon use by making it more expensive – and this new program is working as intended.
Washington families need relief at the pump. To that end, I am working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on solutions that will get money back into your pocket. My colleague in the House, Rep. April Connors, has a proposal to give the extra money collected by the state’s cap-and-trade program back to drivers when they renew their license tabs. Let me know what you think should be done to help folks struggling with high gas prices. I’d also like to know how high gas prices are affecting you and your family.
Increasing access to behavioral health
In 2019, I sponsored House Bill 2883, which expanded youth access to behavioral health services; however, information about these services was still not available online when we convened the 2022 session. That’s why I sponsored House Bill 1800 to hire one, full-time employee to help connect families, providers, and educators with up-to-date information about behavioral health services for young people. The measure was signed into law last summer, and they’re working toward finishing a new website and database for youth mental health.
As a member of the House Education Committee, I am keenly aware of the many challenges and opportunities we face in our public education system. Enrollment dipped during the pandemic and has not yet recovered. Many parents are looking toward alternative methods of education for their children.
I’ve been following Matt Beck’s efforts in Whatcom County where he’s utilizing the Inspired Learner Model (ILM). This model uses project and activity-based learning (PABL), peer mentoring, enhanced learning through technology, student choice, parental involvement, community engagement, and other mechanisms to support and encourage children to become lifelong curious learners. I am excited to see what kind of innovations Mr. Beck and his group are able to develop in education.
Earlier this year, I sponsored House Bill 1615 to direct the Washington Student Achievement Council to establish and administer the Students First program, which would fund education savings accounts (ESAs) for individual students. We have a constitutional mandate to provide for the education of all children in Washington state. It’s imperative that we empower parents to do what is best for their child regardless of income level or zip code while meeting the state’s moral and constitutional obligation to put students first.
Artificial intelligence (A.I.) has been all the buzz over the past year, ever since Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer (ChatGPT) launched in November 2022. I recently attended a meeting with legislators and industry leaders to discuss the implications of A.I. As amazing as some of this new technology is, we need to keep a close watch over its development to ensure we have the proper safeguards in place. What do you think about recent developments in A.I.?
Here’s an image created by Adobe’s Firefly A.I. art generator of our state Capitol building.
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I work for you all year. Please contact me if you have questions about important issues facing our communities and state.
It’s an honor to serve you!