February 05, 2024

Protecting Reproductive Freedom + An Update on Major Federal Investments in Our Neck of the Woods

Hello Folks –

So far this year, we’ve seen a government shutdown averted, a couple of new football coaches hired, and the first new Billy Joel song released in 17 years!  And it’s only February!  What’s more, reliable sources are telling me we can expect an early spring. 

There’s also been a lot happening here at home and in Washington, D.C..  With that in mind, let’s get to the news…

Defending the Right to Choose

Nearly two years ago, with the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and opened the door to significant restrictions on women’s reproductive freedom.  In its aftermath, 21 states banned abortion or passed restrictions on the procedure earlier in pregnancy than the standard set by Roe v. Wade. And today, even as voters in seven states have sounded off in support of reproductive rights, extreme Republicans in Congress have continued to make it clear that they intend to pass a federal abortion ban.

Last month marked the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. To honor that fact, I met with the dedicated team at Planned Parenthood in Tacoma. We took the opportunity to discuss the impact of the Dobbs decision on our country, the subsequent challenges in health care settings, and the need to protect care for trans folks in our communities.


Let me be clear: decisions about reproductive health care, including abortions, are best made by women in consultation with their doctors. These deeply personal decisions should not be interfered with or replaced by the judgment of politicians.

That’s why I’ve strongly opposed efforts to roll back reproductive rights. And that’s why I strongly support the Women’s Health Protection Act to enshrine the rights granted under Roe v. Wade into federal law. The bill, which I co-sponsor, would restore choice nationwide and prevent restrictions that block care and undermine a person’s ability to make their own health care decisions.

As I’ve said before, I am deeply concerned about the threat that this decision presents to reproductive freedom. We cannot – and should not – accept a future in which the next generation of Americans have fewer rights than their parents. I’ll keep working to make sure that doesn’t happen and to get this legislation across the finish line.

Big Infrastructure Wins for the Olympic Peninsula

In 2021, President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law into law. Now, thanks to that historic piece of legislation, we are reaping the benefits here at home.

Just last month, I was thrilled to announce that nearly $16.7 million in new federal funding had been awarded to two projects on the Olympic Peninsula for the installation of new charging infrastructure. Funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) Discretionary Grant Program, this federal investment is a big deal for our communities on the Peninsula.

Port Angeles will receive more than $2.1 million to install 50 electric vehicle (EV) chargers along SR-101, a main connector between Olympic National Park and ferry services. These new chargers will serve both permanent residents and visiting tourists in a region that saw more than 2.7 million visitors in 2021.

Energy Northwest, a joint operating agency formed by the Washington state legislature in 1957, will receive more than $14.5 million to install 40 fast chargers and 12 Level 2 chargers to create widespread access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the Olympic Peninsula in places like Forks, Sequim Quilcene, Shelton, and Port Ludlow.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is leading to historic investments, including this new charging infrastructure which will support economic activity and enable more tourism in rural areas. That’s good news and I’ll keep working to bring more investments like these back to our neck of the woods.

Investing in Port Townsend’s Maritime Industry

As someone who grew up on the Olympic Peninsula, I know how much our maritime sector means to our families and communities. The storms our region experienced in late 2021 and early 2022 not only resulted in two presidential disaster declarations but also caused heavy damage in Port Townsend, underscoring the need to replace infrastructure within the Port’s Boat Haven Marina, a central hub for maritime trades.


That’s why I was excited to announce last month that thanks to the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) program, the Port of Port Townsend will receive $2.3 million in federal funding to replace the Port’s 300-ton boat lift. Replacing the Port’s existing 300-ton marine travel lift will allow the Port to maintain the operational capacity of the Boat Haven. This funding will support the creation and protection of more than 170 maritime jobs and generate over $12 million in private investment. That’s why I wrote in strong support of the Port’s boat lift replacement proposal in a letter to EDA leadership last year.


This grant to modernize the Port of Port Townsend is a terrific shot in the arm for folks in the region. This federal investment, plus the Port’s FY24 Community Project Funding request for their Boat Haven Main Breakwater Replacement Project, will be significant in ensuring the future of the maritime economy in our region. This is a good step in supporting the backbone of our community – the small businesses, the hardworking individuals, and everyone who contributes to our local economy.

Working for You


Supporting Our Seniors

I had a great meeting last week with volunteer advocates from AARP Washington. I was inspired by their stories of how the Inflation Reduction Act's new programs focused on lowering drug prices are already making a difference for seniors in our region.


Prioritizing Mental Health

I recently hosted two mental house roundtables with folks from all over Pierce and Kitsap Counties, where we discussed vital issues and legislation to address the mental health crisis. I’m grateful for the dedication of folks working tirelessly to support our community’s well-being and enhance mental health services – and I’m proud to lead legislation like the Mental Health Infrastructure Improvement Act to ensure care for all.


Investing in Healthcare Education

It was great meeting with the team at Olympic College recently to discuss their Poulsbo health care expansion project and the educational opportunities and improved access to care it will bring to people in our region.

OK – that’s it for now, folks. As always, I’m honored to represent you.

Derek Kilmer
Derek Kilmer