Dear Friends and Neighbors,
One of the many things I consider serendipitous to my job as your State Representative is the opportunity to engage our local communities and partner with people and programs positively influencing the world around them. There is so much good to find, if we only take the time to look for it, and one particular Key Peninsula project that has seen immense local success is the “Little Toasters” program.
In addition to my prioritized work on our bridge tolls, I have also worked with this program to introduce bipartisan legislation known as the Little Toasters Act. This measure would create an educational grant program to promote confidence, public speaking, and leadership while also developing anti-bullying techniques in our young students, especially young girls in grades 3-5. Through an after-school program, this Act will build a partnership with Toastmaster mentors and buildup the public speaking and self-confidence levels of our young children. Results are showing that this type of training strongly empowers kids to proactively and confidently engage in their futures while opening doors to pursue alternative or non-traditional routes of education, especially when it comes to helping young women enter into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
In an ever-expanding global economy, developing these skills, I believe, is crucial to giving our kids a “leg up” on their foreign competition. English may be the language of business, but effective communication is an art that is the key to success in any endeavor. When I saw the Little Toasters program, and the benefits it provided for the Peninsula School District, my eyes widened at the thought that we could build a program like this at the State level. Developing the abilities to effectively express an opinion, articulate a complex or abstract thought, confidently address a group in public, or deal with a bully are skills desperately needed today. With this program students that enter with their eyes down and a whisper-soft voice finish with strong self-confidence and social skills they never knew they had.
Recently, this measure received a public hearing and passed out unanimously from the House Education Committee. Next up is the House Appropriations Committee, where the Democratic Chair is a co-sponsor of the bill!
As Jud Morris said during testimony,
“The program transforms these children into confident and active young women. Through the program, they learn to find their own voices and to speak up for others – helping in bully situations. This program is a small program with huge results.”
The outpouring of support from our local community, and state agencies, shows the 26th District will be a leader as this program moves forward statewide. The Director of English Language Arts for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction said,
“OSPI is very excited to support this measure that sustains the Washington state learning standard and also promotes the social and emotional development in leadership. It capitalizes on the importance of our speaking and listening standards and encourages our younger students to explore the power and benefits of their voice. OSPI recognizes the value and importance of this proposal and believes that the skills and confidence of oration is a worthy and prized initiative for the next generation of Washingtonians.”
You can watch the full hearing and testimony by clicking here, or by directly clicking on the photo below.
This bill has multiple co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, and because of its true bipartisan support, we're taking a good idea and creating great legislation! This is a prime example of the success we can achieve when we work together, rather than against each other.
I want to personally thank everyone who came to Olympia to testify in favor of this program, especially Jud Morris, Victoria Beeber of the Children's Home Society, Maris Johnson, Amanda Walston, and David Olson of the Peninsula School Board. This is a community effort that we can all be proud of. I will keep you posted on the progress of this proposal. I am very hopeful it will cross the finish line and become law this year!
Update on the capital budget
After more than a year of tough negotiations, all five corners of the Legislature (both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate, and the governor's office) came together in bipartisan unison to approve the state's capital budget. This budget provides more than $4.17 billion in infrastructure funding, $2.72 billion in construction bonds, and $27 million dedicated to career and technical education facilities, including STEM grants. It also provides construction funding for parks, housing for low-income residents and veterans, colleges and universities, K-12 school construction, and various other public works projects.
Funding for 26th District projects include:
- $17,000 for Fox Island catastrophic emergency preparedness (Fox Island)
- $58,000 for Historic Purse Seiner Shenandoah Restoration
- $60,000 for Key Peninsula Civic Center (Vaughn)
- $100,000 for PLIA improvements at Newman's Chevron (Bremerton)
- $150,000 for Admiral Theatre renovation, phase II
- $206,000 for Gig Harbor Sports Complex (Gig Harbor)
- $248,000 for Longbranch Marina (Longbranch)
- $250,000 for Quincy Square on 4th (Bremerton)
- $309,000 for the Downtown Pocket Park at Rockwell (Port Orchard)
- $322,000 for improvements to West Sound Technical School
- $428,000 for Penrose Point sewer improvements
- $464,000 for West Hills Early Learning Center
- $515,000 for Key Peninsula elder community (Lakebay)
- $929,000 for Olympic Community College shop building renovation
- $1 million for Port Orchard marina breakwater refurbishment (Port Orchard)
- $5.5 million for Kopachuck Park day use area development
- $6.5 million for Minter Hatchery intakes
I was proud to support this budget and fight for these infrastructure projects. As you can see, we were diligent and successful at bringing back capital investment to our district. I also want to take a moment to thank my seatmates, Senator Angel and Representative Caldier. This achievement was truly a team effort and all three of us did some heavy lifting to get it done!
Constituent Outreach – keeping my promise to be accountable to you!
I will be having both a telephone town hall and in-district town halls in the coming weeks. The details are below. Please join the call and come out in person. I'd love to hear from you!
Telephone Town Hall | Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018
What: 26th District telephone town hall
When: Thursday, Feb. 15
Time: 6-7 p.m.
Location: The comfort of your own home
Call-in #: (253) 387-7687
Please join me for a telephone town hall on Thursday, Feb. 15 from 6-7 p.m. My goal for this telephone town hall is to make it an easy, convenient, and beneficial medium for you to ask questions and interact with me so we can work together to find solutions to the concerns you have on the work we're doing at the Legislature. This is a great way to stay connected directly with me, all from the comfort of your home. I look forward to your participation!
In-District Town Hall Schedule | Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018
|9:00 – 11:00 a.m.||Gig Harbor City Hall –
|3510 Grandview St.
Gig Harbor, WA.
|12:30 – 2:30 p.m.||Port Orchard City Hall –
|216 Prospect St.
Port Orchard, WA.
|4:00 – 6:00 p.m.||Bremerton Norm Dicks Building – Council Chambers||345 6th St.
|7:00 – 9:00 p.m.||Key Peninsula Civic Center – Whitmore Room||17010 Vaughn Road
Since my appointment as your State Representative, I'm proud to share that my office has held the most in-person town hall meetings in the Legislature. Why? Because I made a promise to you to be accountable and to always put myself publicly before you for review. I fear that some legislators forget this but, you are my boss and I am your public servant. I'm honored to serve you. These in-person discussions are one of our most valuable tools for communication and accountability. What's more, they stretch much further than any electronic communication ever could. I hope you will join me at one of the four locations across the 26th District on Saturday, Feb. 17. I truly look forward to our discussion.