Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The head of the state Employment Security Department (ESD), Suzi LeVine, has not been held accountable for hundreds of millions of dollars lost last summer to a Nigerian scam. She was not held accountable when unemployment benefits for thousands of workers were delayed weeks and months – some have STILL not received their benefits! In the private sector, this kind of inept leadership gets you fired; in the government, it gets you a promotion to the Biden Administration.
Three members of Congress from Washington state sent a letter to the Biden Administration asking for accountability before promotion. You can read more about that effort here. We'll see what the new president decides.
The state Auditor revealed this week a massive date breach from about 1.6 million unemployment claims made last year, including personal information that could lead to further fraud. You can learn more about this breach and how you can protect yourself here.
COVID relief legislation – too little, too late…
House Bill 1368 passed the House this week. It will do some good things for the public, but frankly, it is much too little, much too late. We offered amendments to make the bill better, but none were taken. We proposed to tap into the state's $2 billion rainy day fund to help safely reopen schools, assist students, provide rental and utility relief, ease burdens on working families, help child care providers, and support employers.
The whole reason for a rainy day fund is to save for “unseen emergencies” and help protect our families and communities. If we're not willing to tap into that money for one-time assistance now, in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, when will we?
I voted no on this bill. It is disheartening to see such a wasted opportunity to help our struggling families while at the same time know that this money will be spent in the future to grow government. You can watch some of our debate on this bill here.
Growing frustration with the governor's reopening plan
More and more local governments and Democrat officials are growing frustrated with Gov. Inslee's reopening plan. Recently, Asotin County officials reaffirmed what I and many of my legislative colleagues have been saying since the spring: lumping our rural areas into “regions” that include larger, more densely populated urban centers does them no good. I continue to trust that my local county commissioners and local county health departments can make the right decisions for health and safety for them – much better than the governor sitting in Olympia!
I'm supporting legislation (House Bill 1321) that will move all regions to Phase 2. I'll continue to update you on this bill's progress.
Removing the Snake River Dams
Congressman Mike Simpson from Idaho released his $33 billion plan to remove the four Lower Snake River Dams. I believe this to be a mistake. I do not support removal of these dams. There is no guarantee it will bring back any salmon in sufficient numbers, and currently there is no way to replace both the irrigation and power needs to the local agricultural communities.
Thank you for staying involved and for allowing me to serve you in Olympia.