Bills, More Bills, and a Law!
Fall has arrived! I love this time of year! The leaves are turning! Football season is cooking! The baseball playoffs are in full gear (maybe next year, Mariners!). And, the Kilmers are getting ready for pumpkin carving (and, admittedly, have already had our first pumpkin pie of the year).
In addition to sports season, it’s also theater season, with all of the Kilmer women participating in The Secret Garden at CSTOCK. Tess was “Colin,” Sophie was a “dreamer girl,” and Jen played “Mrs. Winthrop.” I even got a chance to step on stage for a few minutes! Thanks to Palmer Scheutzow and the CSTOCK team for inviting me to make a cameo last weekend as Major Shelley. Believe it or not, I made it through all three of my lines (though I’m planning on sticking to my day job).
It’s been a busy couple of weeks in DC with Congress passing some major pieces of legislation that will directly affect our region.
Here are the highlights:
Getting Things Done For Our Region
Congress recently passed a couple bills that include some of my top priorities and will directly affect folks in our region.
For example, Congress just sent the president a bill to fund the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services and Education for the next fiscal year.
Through my role on the Appropriations Committee, I helped secure funding for Navy facilities like the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and $2 million towards new technologies that will reduce the amount of noise the Navy’s fighter jets make when they train in our region.
The bill also included funding to help communities address the opioid crisis, and a whole lot more which you can read about here.
I also secured an important provision in the recent Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act. This is the bill that funds maintenance at the nation’s airports and sets rules that govern everything from flight safety to how much leg room you have when you fly.
My amendment requires the FAA to consider community emergency response needs when it decides how much funding an airport receives. In towns like Port Angeles and rural areas across the country, our airports are often the fastest way to get help during a natural disaster like an earthquake or a forest fire. But, if the FAA cuts the amount of funding our airports receive, it can mean shorter runways. And shorter runways mean larger planes that bring help in emergencies can’t land.
My amendment will protect our rural airports in communities like Port Angeles where our runways are the lifelines when the next natural disaster strikes. They also support local jobs which strengthens our region’s economy. I’m going to keep building on these efforts for our region. In fact, these past couple weeks I have introduced three different bills!
Supporting Efforts to Teach Young People New Skills
Some of the K-12 schools in our region are doing amazing work to prepare students for careers. Career and technical education programs and pre-apprenticeship programs can open the doors of economic opportunity for kids. In fact, a few months back I learned about an inspiring partnership between Tacoma’s Stadium High School, local health care providers, higher education institutions and others to offer a new Health and Medical Academy.
I recently introduced a bill to support similar efforts. The Compete for the Future Act of 2018 will create a prize competition for successful youth and pre-apprenticeship programs.
This is about making sure young people all over our region and the country can learn skills to land great jobs. You can learn more about this bipartisan bill here.
Looking Out for Our Veterans
I believe if you serve your country, it should have your back. After a recent Government Accountability Office report found weaknesses in the way the Veterans Health Administration oversees more than 799 of it's outpatient clinics, I introduced bipartisan legislation that will help ensure facilities like the currently-under-construction Silverdale VA clinic live up to the standards our veterans deserve.
Among other things, the bill requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to update the standards that every Community Based Outpatient Clinic (or CBOC) is supposed to meet for its operations. The bill also directs the VA to regularly develop and disseminate best practices on operating CBOCs so veterans get the best care possible. You can read more here.
And finally, I’m giving you a sneak preview on something I’m announcing later this week.
According to the Puget Sound Partnership, stormwater runoff is the largest source of pollution in the Sound.
A new study from WSU came out last week that identified tiny bits of car tires that have washed into streams throughout the region as a prime suspect in the deaths of coho salmon as they swim upstream to spawn.
I’m introducing a new bill that will lead to more green infrastructure projects (like permeable pavement and rain gardens) that mimic nature and slow down (and clean!) the flow of stormwater before it reaches the Sound.
The problem is even worse during downpours. When it rains really hard, stormwater flows so quickly into our sewers and at such a high volume that it overwhelms sewage systems. That means, in addition to carrying everything from our roadways - brake dust, motor oil, wiper fluid, and tire pieces - stormwater can also carry human waste into the Sound.
In addition to being really gross, this is really bad for the salmon, really bad for orcas, and really bad for the tens of thousands of jobs that are counting on a healthy Sound.
I’ll have a lot more on this over the course of the next week or two. Stay tuned!
Working For You
That was a lot...But as always, the best part of this job is being able to travel across the region working for you.
Thanking Those Who Served
Over the weekend, I hosted a pinning ceremony to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. This pinning ceremony is a small way for our community to do something the nation didn’t do 50 years ago - say thank you to those who served. It was an honor to pin 63 veterans and thank them for serving our nation.
Making New Connections
I had a great time visiting recently with folks at the Islamic Center of Tacoma. I enjoyed the lively conversation, and was happy to give an exciting update: The Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act has been officially signed into law! Every American deserves to be able to gather and practice his or her faith, and the bipartisan effort to pass the bill is a good reminder that Democrats and Republicans can - and must - continue working together to find common ground. Thanks for hosting me!
Kilmer At Your Company Derek with Your Delivery
Many of you know I regularly host Kilmer at Your Company visits. Last week I visited a UPS distribution facility in Bremerton and then did a ride-a-long with one of their drivers. It was cool hanging with my new friend Ron for what I’m going to call Derek With Your Delivery.
We delivered packages to some really interesting businesses in Kitsap County including Grundens, which makes foul weather gear for professional fishermen; Kickee Pants, which makes some very stylish (and soft) baby clothes out of bamboo; and the Benik Corporation, which makes neoprene products like the sleeves and braces you see your favorite athletes wearing.
Supporting Our Fisheries
Finally, last week, I participated in a roundtable in Ilwaco to discuss challenges facing our fisheries. Part of the reason I serve on the Appropriations Committee is to advocate for some of the investments that are so vital to local jobs in the fishing industry - everything from the Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Fund to Mitchell Act funding that supports hatchery production. It was valuable to hear from those whose livelihoods depend on catching fish or crab or on harvesting shellfish. Thanks to everyone for sharing!
That’s all for now! I’m looking forward to seeing you throughout the region this October!
As always, it’s an honor to represent you.