December 27, 2023

New Opportunities for Clallam, Jefferson, and Grays Harbor Counties

Hello Folks –

Happy Holidays! I hope this week’s newsletter finds you well, enjoying time with family and friends as we count down the days until we can ring in the New Year. We have a lot to cover this week, with some exciting news for people in our region, so let’s get right to it.

New Opportunities for Clallam, Jefferson, and Grays Harbor Counties

I grew up on the Olympic Peninsula and was in high school right around the time the timber industry took it on the chin. I saw a lot of folks in our community lose their jobs. It had a big impact on me – and I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to figure out how to ensure we’re doing a better job of protecting workers and communities so that no one gets left behind in our economy.

That’s why I introduced the RECOMPETE Act a few years ago – to provide flexible, multi-year grants to help economically distressed communities create new jobs and unlock opportunities. That bill was included – in pilot form – in the CHIPS & Science Act that passed last year. The Recompete Pilot Program aims to provide economic opportunities for folks on the Olympic Peninsula, the Pacific Coast, and nationwide. It’s about making sure that everyone, no matter their zip code, has access to economic opportunities.

I’m excited to share that, last week, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded $1 million in new federal funding to two economic development initiatives on the Olympic Peninsula and the Pacific Coast.

The North Olympic Peninsula Recompete Coalition – a new coalition of members from both Clallam and Jefferson Counties, as well as area Tribes – was awarded a $500,000 Strategy Development Grant.  It was also named a national finalist for a larger Implementation Grant (up to $50 million) down the road. This funding will allow NOPRC to pursue an economic initiative that aims to help the legacy timber and maritime industries evolve while preparing students for living wages and in-demand jobs in those industries. That means more jobs, better workforce development, and improved access to support services for folks across the North Olympic Peninsula.

The EDA also awarded a $500,000 Strategy Development Grant to the Washington State Coastal Counties Initiative – an initiative being led by Greater Grays Harbor for Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties. This federal investment will enable Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties to undertake a bottom-up, equitable strategy to create jobs, remove economic barriers, and ensure inclusive growth for historically marginalized communities on Washington state’s Pacific Coast.

Seeing the RECOMPETE Act – an idea I’ve championed for years – come to fruition with these inaugural grants gives some real cause for hope. As we see the Recompete Pilot Program deliver investments in communities that have faced long-term economic challenges, it’s a significant milestone for folks who’ve seen similar economic distress in communities across America.

Fighting for Early Lung Cancer Detection

Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S., accounting for nearly one out of every five cancer deaths. Tragically, more than 80% of people with lung cancer die within five years of diagnosis, and more than half within the first year. Sadly, like so many others, I’ve lost family members to this awful disease.

That’s why, as Co-Chair of the House Cancer Caucus, I’m proud to co-lead the Lung Cancer Screening and Prevention Act, a crucial step in our fight against lung cancer that will help ensure timely access to advanced screenings for lung cancer.

This bill not only enhances screening accessibility for high-risk groups but also represents our commitment to innovative health care solutions. Early detection is key, and this bipartisan legislation ensures that more Americans have access to life-saving screenings. By seeking to streamline the Medicare and Medicaid coverage process, this bill could aid in early lung cancer detection. That’s a big deal, especially for folks who rely on programs like Medicare to have access to affordable healthcare.

Together, we’re making strides toward a healthier future for all Americans.  I’ll keep fighting to make sure the federal government has the back of every cancer patient.

Supporting Our Servicemembers

If you serve this country, Congress should have your back and invest in you and your family.

That’s why I recently voted to pass the National Defense Authorization Act for 2024 (NDAA). With a 5.2% pay raise, improved housing, and expanded childcare support, the NDAA makes significant strides in supporting servicemembers and the folks who depend on them.

The NDAA also includes wins for the regional economy, servicemembers transitioning to a post-military career or education, and our region’s talented civilian workforce who are doing vitally important work to keep our country safe. In addition to investments in crucial services like military family housing and child development centers, the NDAA addresses the need for improved military healthcare and mental health services. This legislation also includes funding for issues right here in our neck of the woods, including ongoing seismic mitigation efforts at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

It’s up to the federal government to ensure that all servicemembers, their families, and federal workers have the support and care that they have earned and deserve. I’m thrilled that the NDAA passed with bipartisan support, and I’ll keep at it to improve conditions and support for those who sacrifice the most for us.

Working for You

Supporting Our Region’s Ferry Partners

I had a great time meeting with Ryan Burles and Rian Anderson from Black Ball Ferry Line earlier this month. We talked about how federal COVID relief funds helped them bounce back from the pandemic.  I’ll keep working to ensure ferries are strong and reliable in our neck of the woods!

Celebrating Affordable Housing for Seniors

I was honored to join Rep. Marilyn Strickland and Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards, as well as folks from the Asia Pacific Cultural Center and Low Income Housing Institute to celebrate the groundbreaking of Patsy Surh Place in Tacoma’s Lincoln District. Slated to open in Spring 2025, the building will provide 77 apartments for low-income seniors aged 55 and over, with a focus on AAPI elders. I look forward to seeing the tremendously positive impact of this project on the community!

Spreading Holiday Cheer for Senior Residents

Last week, I had the opportunity to volunteer as Santa for Lutheran Community Services Northwest’s “Santa for Seniors” program. I was able to spend some time with retired seniors in our region and share gifts created by students from Tacoma Public Schools, all while dressed up as Jolly Old Saint Nick!

Connecting with Local Businesses

Earlier this month, I met with the folks from High Energy Metals in Sequim. High Energy Metals is doing important work for the U.S. military and is a great employer in our region.  I’m proud to support and celebrate their contributions to our regional economy!

OK – that’s it for now, folks. I wish you all the best for a safe, healthy, and happy New Year. As always, I’m honored to represent you.

Derek Kilmer
Derek Kilmer