Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I want to thank those of you who were able to participate in my telephone town hall this week. I apologize if I interrupted the president's State of the Union speech. I scheduled this day well in advance of the president's speech (all the way back in the first part of December) and it was too late to cancel or reschedule. We had a great turnout – at one point, we had 606 citizens on the line at the same time! It would be nearly impossible to touch base with so many folks in a district the size of ours using traditional town halls.
During the event, I sometimes like to conduct a few survey questions to get a feel for what folks back home are thinking. Here are the results from this week:
First legislative cutoff
We're quickly approaching the first cutoff date for bills moving through the legislative process. Next Friday, Feb. 22 is the deadline for bills to move through the policy committees. We'll have a better idea which bills are “alive” and which bills are technically “dead” after next week. I'll give you an update at that time – especially on several of the gun bills that are moving through the process.
Jobs and the Economy
My House Republican colleagues and I continue to focus on helping the private sector create jobs, reducing the regulator burden on employers and reforming our unemployment insurance and workers' compensation systems. To read more about our proposals, click here.
To take part in an anonymous survey about how you think we can help get Washington working again, click here.
Rural Post Offices
“What's going on with our post office?” This is a question I hear a lot throughout the district. Unfortunately, I have no idea – but it's not for lack of trying! I have never been so frustrated over an issue my entire time as a legislator. It seems like no matter who I ask, where I ask, or what I ask…all I hear are crickets. It's unacceptable but I'll keep trying. Here's what we've done to date:
Collectively with Sen. Schoesler and Rep. Fagan, we have sent two letters to the USPS and copied 5 people in those letters. The second letter had copies of 185 letters that we received from concerned taxpayers regarding the St. John Post Office. In dealing with the USPS for the past 18 months, we have seen closure or significant reduction in hours to 16 post offices in our legislative district. We originally had five direct contacts with staff at a variety of levels in the Seattle USPS Office. In trying to contact those staff on the St. John issue, we found that all phone numbers were no longer in service and their email addresses were undeliverable. That left us with literally no one to contact at the Postal Service.
In our dealing with the USPS on the Washtucna closure, we spoke directly with several folks in the Seattle office; were then transferred to the San Francisco office; then to the Denver office and subsequently to the Washington, D.C. office! In each of those personal phone calls, I never once spoke to a “decision maker” or anyone who could provide me with the guidelines, rules or policies that could explain the closure or reduction of hours.
I copied Congresswoman McMorris-Rodgers on all the documents, and I have been in personal weekly contact with their office director. Because we still have not heard any word whatsoever from the USPS, after making several phone calls in the Spokane region, I found Carol Rebstock's personal number this week (she's the District Manager of Operations for the region and located in Spokane). I have asked for a face to face meeting with her to discuss policies and rules regarding the St. John changes. This request was made on February 8th and to date, there has also been no answer.
The 16 towns that have been affected by changes to the USPS within our district are:
Washtucna, Hooper, Malden, Steptoe, Lacrosse, Lamont, Waverly, Albion, Colton, Endicott, Farmington, Garfield, Oakesdale, Uniontown, Rosalia, and St. John.
Additionally, Saturday delivery and business operations are being eliminated nationwide which will affect our small towns even more when there are such sporadic operating hours during the work week.
As you can see, I am working every angle I possibly can. I will continue to follow the problem with hopes of getting some answers and remedies to the changes.
Thanks again for reading my e-newsletter. Please feel free to forward it on to family and friends who might be interested.