Editor’s note: Today’s editorial was written by state Rep. Brian Blake. Editorial content from other publications and authors is provided to give readers a sampling of regional and national opinion and does not necessarily reflect positions endorsed by the Editorial Board of The Daily News.
Something big happened in the little town of Long Beach this November: all the House Democratic lawmakers, from every corner of the state, made the drive and showed up.
They showed up to talk about how we can work together to get things done.
The chair of the budget committee, Rep. Timm Ormsby of Spokane, talked about how we can help public schools and improve health care while keeping the budget balanced.
Rep. Steve Tharinger from Dungeness said the state construction budget is crucial for timber and farm country, because it would put men and women in hard hats to work building $1 billion in new K-12 classrooms and $800 million in projects at our colleges and universities.
All the Democratic lawmakers, including Frank Chopp, the Speaker of the House, showed up in Long Beach this past weekend because instead of embracing the chaos and division coming out of Washington, D.C., we are determined to work together and get things done in this Washington.
I am proud that they chose to come to the 19th District, which I have had the honor of representing since 2003, and I am proud that both seasoned and freshman lawmakers have learned and adopted the concept of One Washington.
One Washington, not two
All of us on both sides of the mountains, in both urban and rural areas, all of us working together to make the entire state prosper and thrive.
Former Majority Leader Lynn Kessler of Hoquiam and former Caucus Chair Bill Grant of Walla Walla coined the concept in the early 2000s. Almost 20 years later, it’s more valuable than ever. Because we can’t pick winners and losers based on whoever controls the levers of power in Olympia or back in Washington, D.C.
Because no matter what letter you put after your name when you ran for office, once you raise your hand and take the oath, you serve everyone in your district: Democrats and Republicans, Libertarians and Independents.
And because real progress on health care, jobs, childcare and education is only possible when we work together.
Over the past decade, we’ve only accomplished big things by working together in a true bipartisan fashion. Some of these accomplishments for rural areas, for example, include bringing tax relief for farm machinery and equipment, and wholesale sales of agricultural crop protection products, as well as dairy products and honey bee food. We’ve also helped small farms grow, simplified permit procedures, and established paths toward energy independence by growing biofuel crops, developing forest biomass, and using new technology to turn dairy waste into power.
We have to keep going because there’s no shortage of challenges
Right here in Southwest Washington we are facing a labor crisis that can severely hinder our economic growth. A recent story in the Seattle Times paints a dire picture of the alarming trend in Pacific County where we are seeing neighbors, fellow workers, people that our seafood, agriculture and tourism industries depend on, suddenly vanish.
It’s true that our immigration system is broken, but the way to fix it is not by plucking away hardworking members of our communities and breaking up families.
Another challenge is the deadly opioid epidemic that has spread across the nation and our state is not the exception. This year we passed a bill to expand a program that keeps track of the number and type of prescriptions dispensed in our state.
Committed to getting results
Earlier this year I and twelve other Democratic lawmakers began a listening tour in Aberdeen, which is also in our 19th district, to discuss jobs, education, infrastructure and health care in rural areas.
We explored opportunities that still exist in the timber and seafood industries, along with exploiting new ideas for creating jobs such as cross-laminated timber, the port and outdoor tourism.
Down in Long Beach over a series of meetings this past weekend, we talked about how even though our districts are different, all of us share the same goals: better health care for our families, better opportunities for our kids, and a shared prosperity throughout this beautiful state.
So I’d like to leave you with these two thoughts: first, your ideas and stories matter. They matter to me and to all the lawmakers who took the time to show up in Long Beach.
And second, you’re not alone. If we refuse to give in to fear and division, and instead work together as partners and teammates, we can tackle any challenge and make sure that every family in every corner of Washington State has a chance to prosper and thrive.
State Rep. Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen) represents the 19th Legislative District, which includes Pacific and Wahkiakum Counties and part of Cowlitz, Lewis, and Grays Harbor counties.