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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Wildfire legislation

I'm sponsoring and supporting several bills to fix some of the problems we saw after the Carlton Complex Fire and other wildfires in our area.

  • House Bill 1237 would allow locals to enter state land to fight a fire without permission from the state by providing immunity for the state from lawsuits in such emergencies.
  • House Bill 1125 would provide $500,000 in existing funds from the Economic Development Strategic Reserve Account for economic recovery in Okanogan County after the Carlton Complex Fire.
  • House Bill 1003 would provide a model policy for schools to know who to contact and what to do after a natural disaster so they can restore infrastructure.

Click on the bill links above and select “comment on this bill” to offer your feedback online.

I'm also working on a couple of proposals that don't have bill numbers yet:

  • Require a “local first” fire suppression strategy so we can use our local resources like Caterpillars to stop a fire faster and not wait for help from outside our area while our land burns.
  • Allow counties to opt out of the wildfire tax on our property and keep the dollars local for a better first response to fires. I expect to get some pushback on this one, but I'm open to ideas and just want to start the discussion about how our tax dollars are being used to fight fires.

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I'm back in Olympia for the legislative session that began Jan. 12. I'm honored to be sworn in to my fifth term representing you, and that my House Republican caucus again elected me the Deputy Republican Leader. This allows me to bring the voice of Northeast Washington to more discussions in Olympia. I'm also proud to announce that our own Rep. Shelly Short was elected as the House Republican Chair, the number three spot on our leadership team.

Proposals from the governor: taxes and the environment

Back in December, the governor introduced several tax increase proposals. My caucus and I will be working to help the governor remember his campaign promise to not raise taxes. In addition, Governor Inslee zeroed in on his extreme environmental agenda with a cap-and-trade scheme. Or as his own climate advisor called it, a “cap and jail” plan. At least he's being honest about it. The governor keeps saying these proposals are all about the kids, which you and I know couldn't be farther from the truth. What's more frustrating is that the governor's own Department of Commerce isn't “directly engaged” in the governor's cap-and-trade proposal, which tells me he doesn't care how it impacts jobs and the economy.

Other issues to be discussed in Olympia

Here are some highlights of the major talks I expect we'll have in Olympia this year:

  • Education funding. Despite the fact that the Supreme Court has seriously overstepped its constitutional powers in telling the Legislature how to budget, we do still have a constitutional duty to fully fund education. With changes to the definition of basic education, and the court ruling on McCleary, we'll be looking at how to fully fund pupil transportation; smaller class sizes for K-3rd grade; materials, supplies and operating costs; and more. With a $3 billion increase in current tax streams, we can do this within existing revenues. State government just got an 8 percent raise – I know almost no one back home who saw the same bump in their paycheck.
  • New transportation package. The governor insists on a new transportation Feb10TelephoneTownHallKretzShortpackage. Instead of a gas tax increase, which at least is protected by the 18th Amendment of our state constitution, he wants to put a carbon tax on “big polluters.” He says this will ensure big companies that put out pollution will finally pay their fair share. I think he fails to see that this is really a tax on everyone. As one of my Democrat colleagues said recently, “There's no way you're going to put a carbon tax on the (oil) refineries and not have that trickle down to the pump.”
  • Wolves. I've again introduced my proposal to translocate wolves to our friends in Western Washington who love them so much. We'll also be looking at de-listing them from the endangered species list in our region specifically.

In closing, I invite you to join in a telephone town hall with myself and Rep. Shelly Short. We've always had great participation at these events – I'm proud to represent one of the most active and involved districts in our state. The call will be Tuesday, Feb. 10 at 6:00-7:00 p.m. To join in, just call (509) 724-2970. If you want to ask a question, press * (star) on your phone when the call begins. I look forward to talking with you.

Thank you for allowing me to represent you. Please feel free to contact my office anytime with questions, concerns or suggestions.


Joel Kretz

State Representative Joel Kretz, 7th Legislative District
425A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7988 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000