Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It has been a very busy month! I am in the community (practicing social distancing) working on your behalf to keep our citizens healthy and safe but also to help get folks working again. The coronavirus pandemic has affected us all and changed our lives in unprecedented ways. However, it appears we have flattened the curve and now need to really push the governor to allow us to SAFELY and methodically reopen segments of our economy.
Urging the governor to take action…
I, along with several legislative colleagues, have written letters to the governor urging him to take action. One of the first letters at the end of March was to allow construction to begin. You can read that letter here. It made no sense for the governor to allow certain public, taxpayer-funded projects to continue but not private construction.
We also wrote the governor asking him to consider our rural areas and how his “stay home” orders were affecting rural communities. You can read that letter here. In addition, we urged the governor to come up with a plan for reopening the state and to possibly consider a regionalized approach. You can read that letter here.
We worked behind the scenes to come up with our own economic recovery plan as well. You can view details of that plan here. I firmly believe our continued pressure pushed the governor to introduce his own plan several weeks later. While I'm pleased to see him allow for hunting, fishing, golfing and other outdoor activities – along with some construction – more must be done. Our individuals, families and communities want to get back to work. I believe we can do so safely, compassionately, and with each other in mind as we wear masks and continue to practice social distancing.
Here is what his “phased-in plan” looks like:
More COVID-19 information…
We have a website updated daily that has a ton of useful information. The governor's emergency powers, his proclamations, unemployment assistance, and more. I encourage you to check it out and bookmark it. Make it part of your daily online reading to stay informed and stay involved.
Keeping our communities safe…
While certain crime continues to go up (residential and garage burglaries are up 30% and commercial burglaries are up 50% according to Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich), it makes no sense to release criminals early. I wrote an op-ed for The Spokesman-Review on this issue here. With only 13 confirmed COVID-19 cases in an inmate population of nearly 16,000 there is no emergency – no good reason – to release thousands of criminals early, as the governor is doing.
Protecting the Second Amendment during the pandemic…
It also makes no sense to keep people from being able to protect themselves by closing gun stores. I coauthored a letter to the governor on this issue, which you can read here. And several county sheriffs, including our Spokane County Sheriff, wrote a similar letter, which you can read here.
2020 session review…
We mailed out our 2020 session review recently. If you missed it or would like to view a digital copy, click here. While much of our attention and focus is on the coronavirus pandemic, there were important issues like the sex education bill, property taxes, and keeping our communities safe that may interest you.
As this is an election year, this will be the last legislative update from me through November, unless we head to a special session, which is likely due to a potential $7 billion state budget shortfall. But please know that I continue working on your behalf and my office is here to help.
It is a privilege and honor to serve you as your state Representative. We will get through this trying time together. Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay engaged with your neighbors and community.