Time for a Sit-Down
Many of you know that I first got involved in public service because I wanted to leave a better world for my kiddos. As a representative – and as a dad – I’ve been heartbroken to read the stories of lives lost in Orlando. These folks were just out on a Saturday, enjoying a place where they felt at home and could be themselves.
This also happened during Pride Month. A time where, in general, we note the important strides we’ve made in securing equality and dignity for every American citizen – regardless of who they love. So I recorded a video to tell the LGBT community that when it comes to standing up against hate and intolerance – We’re With You.
You can watch the video here:
Sadly, while there have been multiple moments of silence in our nation’s capital, there have simply not been moments of action. As a result, I joined my colleagues in demanding that Congress – at the very least – have a debate about how to solve this problem.
Outside our nation’s capital there is a strong – and bipartisan – consensus that we need to take some common sense steps to reduce violence and keep terrorists from threatening Americans. The vast majority of Americans believe we can protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens and take some sensible steps to ensure dangerous weapons don’t end up in the hands of terrorists. I was proud to join my colleague, civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis, in calling for Congress to act.
Here are some photos from the day.
Foreign Contributions Have no Business in Our Elections
Over the past year whether I’m at a coffee shop, holding a town hall, or talking to someone at my local Safeway I’ve heard a common complaint from folks. They want Congress to do something about the plague of campaign cash that has poisoned our political system. It’s why I’ve tried to lead the way in making progress on this issue.
Last week, I continued my work by introducing a bill to stop any foreign money from being used in our elections. Our current laws explicitly prohibit foreign nationals from contributing directly or indirectly to campaigns in the United States. This is the letter of the law for any federal, state, or local election. But in reality, there is still the possibility for a foreign national or corporation to end up influencing our process. This is happening because of the role outside groups are playing in our elections. So far in 2016, entities like 501(c) nonprofit groups have spent more than $400 million on campaigns. According to Open Secrets, that’s a 175 percent increase so far from 2012. That’s a lot of money. And foreign nationals, or U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies, can donate to these 501(c) groups, so the potential for foreign actors to try to influence U.S. election outcomes is real.
What’s more, these groups do not have to disclose where their money comes from. And they don’t even have to attest to the notion that any money being spent on political activities is not from foreign sources.
The potential for foreign contributors to try and influence electoral outcomes is a threat to the integrity of our political process. That’s why I’m proud to have worked on a bipartisan bill that will bring some sunlight to this process and make sure that groups involved in campaigns have not opened a backdoor to foreign contributions. Stay tuned for more on this bill in the weeks ahead.
An Update on Jet Noise
In our region, we are blessed to have thousands of active-duty service members, DOD civilian employees, and veterans living and working in our community. Part of that presence has meant that the services, including the Navy, have proposed exercises and training that can impact neighboring communities.
Over the past few years, I’ve worked hard to ensure that the Navy continues its commitment to being a good neighbor and communicating their proposed plans to residents throughout our area. Last year when folks felt like the Navy wasn’t adequately sharing their plans and taking public input, I went to work. I got the Navy to commit to holding a number of public meetings in communities across the Peninsula about proposals for training activities.
In addition, I’ve engaged the various federal agencies that are tasked with protection our air, land, water, and critters, to ask that they conduct appropriate, science-based due diligence on Navy proposals. Furthermore, federal agencies have now extended the comment periods on these proposals and conducted more thorough outreach to media outlets in smaller communities that may be impacted. And I’ve asked the federal experts that monitor jet noise to work with the Navy and evaluate noise levels in Olympic National Park and better coordinate on current and future activities on the Peninsula.
But I think there’s more to be done. With that in mind, I recently joined my colleague, Representative Rick Larsen, in fighting to successfully secure investments to further research into reducing noise from Navy jets. By supporting these technological breakthroughs, we can better protect the soundscape and environment of Olympic National Park and the surrounding communities.
Check out the Port Townsend Leader for more on the story: http://www.ptleader.com/news/kilmer-secures-money-to-reduce-jet-noise/article_1d3f65dc-3350-11e6-8c90-5be2dad7d0fb.html
Defending our Sound
Since my last newsletter we also had an Appropriations Committee hearing to consider the Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill. This legislation authorizes funding for agencies that mean a lot to our region like the Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Forest Service. During that discussion I rose to note that we need to have robust investments that support the EPA’s continued efforts to protect and restore Puget Sound.
The Puget Sound Geographic Program is critical to supporting the ongoing recovery efforts happening throughout our region. The Sound is a major economic driver – it generates $9.5 billion in travel spending and 88,000 tourist-related jobs that bring another $3 billion in income to the state. This funding matters, not just to the overall health and viability of our waterways, but to the livelihoods that depend on them.
It also matters to the Tribes who have depended on Puget Sound since time immemorial and to whom we have a trust responsibility to ensure the Sound remains a healthy and productive resource for generations to come. So I will continue to champion its restoration.
This bill is still working its way through the process, and I’ll continue fighting the fight for adequate funding for Puget Sound recovery.
Different Look to My Homepage
If you are a regular visitor to my website, you might have noticed last week that it looked a little different. In an effort to stay accessible and accountable to the folks I represent, my office revamped it a bit. This will continue to be a forum to read more about what I’m working on, the issues facing our country, and the work my team is doing on your behalf. And you can check out past newsletters too!
Here is a video going over the changes.
Working for You
That ethic of wanting to hear from the folks I represent shapes how I spend my time back home when Congress isn’t voting on things. During the last “District Work Period,” I was busy in our region.
Father’s Day meant another visit to the Manchester Salmon Bake. They had me serving beans this year (yup -- a bit of a demotion). Here's me with Cherm and Ralph -- two great friends of the Manchester Library.
I went to Montesano High School in Grays Harbor County celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the American Tree Farm System. Thanks to the WA Farm Forestry Association and all of the families in this industry who have put people to work and protected our environment for the past 75 years!
I spent a beautiful Saturday morning at the new Ocosta Elementary School dedication event in Westport. This state of the art education facility is also the first tsunami safe haven project in North America. Kudos to the school district and the community for making the commitment to develop an innovative project like this, aimed at keeping students, faculty, and their families safe in the case of a large disaster. I was happy to speak to a packed house about the importance of partnerships and resilience in our rural communities. Congratulations to all those involved. What a great feat!
OK – that’s all for this update. If I can ever lend a hand to you or someone you know, please give me office a holler.
As always, it’s an honor to represent you.
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