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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We're past the policy committee cutoff and are now finishing the fiscal committee cutoff.  As a member of the House Appropriations Committee this means committee meetings long into the night working on legislation that has a fiscal impact on our state.  At one point this week, out of the 50 or so bills we were dealing with, only four of them were sponsored by Republicans.  We worked to get that inequity addressed, but still have some ways to go.

Working with our Congressional Representatives
I have weekly telephone meetings with Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers regarding health care and the potential reworking of Obamacare.  I've found these meetings very helpful and have confidence that a plan will be revealed in the near future.

This week, she joined Congressman Dan Newhouse in a visit with us in Olympia. We discussed agriculture issues and how working with a new administration that understands the value and importance of rural America is refreshing.  We also talked about working together to ensure that Northwest agriculture, which is very unique, is protected and understood at the federal level.  We are lucky to have two representatives who understand rural economies and what it takes to make agriculture work in today's markets.

Online survey results
Thank you to those who took my online survey.  There were over 360 people who participated.  Here are the results:

  1. 1) The federal government is now considering reintroducing grizzly bears to Washington state.  What do you think of this effort?
    I'm all for it = 28.8%
    I don't really care one way or another = 25%
    I do not support the reintroduction of grizzly bears to our state = 46.2%
    Additional responses:
    “Doing so would be irrational and irresponsible.”
    “State law says they are not to import such animals and we do not need more predators brought in.”
    “Cattle ranchers shouldn't have to worry more about their animals.”
    “Why? Wolves and poor management of forests are already wreaking havoc with Elk numbers. Stupid.”
    “They were here before.”

2) With record-setting wildfires the past few years, what do you think of the command structure used to fight fires? From the people making decisions of who goes where with what, and how those commands were relayed down to the “boots on the ground.”
Current command mode too bureaucratic, replace with local input, flexibility and less red tape = 31%
I was satisfied with the command structure and how the fires were managed = 13%
It was top notch and probably could not have done much better = 7%
Not sure, didn't have firsthand experience, but my community was dissatisfied and frustrated = 21%
Not sure, didn't have firsthand experience, but my community was satisfied and confident = 27%
Additional responses:
“Wildfire fighting has deteriorated. As a former wildfire fighter I see it going downhill yearly.  The state Mob system needs to be overhauled.  It is a total waste of taxpayer money.”
“It is very evident to those who have fought wildfires and those who's property has been threatened by wildfires that the present command model is not working efficiently.”
“I would like to see the use of logging to thin the fire prone areas to maintain more of a balance instead of allowing uncontrolled growth which ends up with catastrophic fires.”
“Dead forests need to be addressed…too much fuel in the forest.  Beetles are killing wide swaths.”

3) What issues are most important to you? Rank 1-10, with 1 being least important.
Jobs and the economy = 7.13
Responsible and sustainable state budget = 7.1
Education = 6.81
Health care = 6.24
Public safety = 5.87
Property rights and continuous eroding of this right = 5.41
Gun issues and the constant attack on 2nd Amen rights = 5.27
State Supreme Court's Hirst Decision = 4.79
Wildfires and forest management = 4.40
Delisting wolves from state ESA = 2.75

4) How do you feel about the economy where you work and live?
It's thriving and family-wage jobs are available = 11%
Seems to be getting a little better and I'm cautiously optimistic = 25%
It feels stagnant and I'm guessing it will probably be about the same for a while = 63%
Additional responses:
“Tough for small businesses in our town.  Taxes and health care take a large portion of income.”
“Jobs are abundant for people willing to work. The problem is in work ethic and ethics in general.”
“The port slowdown really hurt our local farm economy and it will take a long time to recover.”
“Too many low-paying jobs and too many taxes. The B&O tax is nothing but a discriminatory income tax in a state with no income tax. Increase that and I'm ready to move my business to another state.”

5) What do you think about the regulatory climate in our state?
We need more regulations on our small businesses and employers to protect our environment, consumers and public safety = 7%
It is manageable. Employers are able to cope and it's not a hindrance to job creation or economic growth = 27%
It is one of many factors including B&O taxes, L&I issues and a high minimum wage that is preventing job creation and economic growth in my community = 36%
Overburdening employers with unnecessary rules and regulations is the single biggest hurdle to economic growth in my community = 30%
Additional responses:
“I think this is a bogus question. Business and industry have shown that the public and environment are not the most important aspect of their business, profits are what matter.”
“As an independent construction contractor the B&O tax structure is punitive. With the current increase in minimum wage, I'm no longer able to hire a helper. My profit margin can no longer support it.”
“We sold our business 14 years ago because of the increasing burden of regulations on small business. It became too much.”
“The minimum wage increase is ridiculous in this state. Our rural communities will not likely survive this hit well.  Too much, too quickly.”

6) Gov. Inslee issued an executive order temporarily suspending the death penalty in WA state while he's in office.  Now, legislation has been introduced to make this permanent.  Do you support eliminating the death penalty?
Yes, the death penalty unfairly targets minorities, costs taxpayers money and should be permanently repealed = 36%
No, the death penalty helps bring closure to victims and families, is proper justice for certain crimes and should remain a viable option for prosecutors when determining sentencing = 64%

7) What is the number one problem that you, or someone you know, are experiencing with Obamacare?
Does not apply to me = 48%
Had to switch health plans and am now paying more = 21%
I'm on Obamacare and have no problems whatsoever = 14%
Not enough options to choose from to fit my needs and budget = 9%
Not able to keep my health insurance plans = 4%
Not able to keep my doctor = 3%
Problems with access to or delays with the state Healthplanfinder website or phone number = 1%
Additional responses:
“Obamacare needs tweaked not eliminated”
“Too expensive. I dropped coverage.”
“Any time something is given for 'free' it ends up costing someone else money.”
“We're paying more and having less coverage.”
“Our daughters family has had no problems with ACA.”
“It's better than paying for uninsured to go to the ER for every little thing.”
“Why is it our responsibility to pay for others' care? Choices they make in life, not ours.”

Thanks again for taking my online survey and for your comments.  Stay tuned as I hope to be able to announce the date and time for our 9th District telephone town hall next week.


Joe Schmick

State Representative Joe Schmick, 9th Legislative District
426B Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7844 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000