Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As many of you know, the Almira community suffered a devastating loss in early October when a fire ripped through the Almira Elementary School and Middle School. The U-shaped building, with administrative offices located in the center and the two schools on opposite sides, has been a center of learning for decades.
Witnesses at the scene say the fire rose over 50 feet in the air, shattering windows and ripping through the roof of the building. It took more than 100 firefighters from nine different fire departments from as far away as Ephrata and Grand Coulee to contain the flames. Despite their heroic efforts, after the blaze was extinguished, only a pile of rubble and some broken-down walls remained.
It's extremely lucky a power outage canceled school and athletics on the day of the fire. There was no loss of life, no injuries, and no damage to nearby structures and homes. Nevertheless, the fire has irrevocably changed the heart of the Almira community. The loss of the schools not only affects current students and staff but generations of individuals and families, many of them farmers, that live in the area.
They say adversity brings people together. I believe the residents of Almira have proven that to be true. The community, and many neighboring towns, are stepping up to help students and staff. Discussions are already underway to rebuild the schools. Area parents, volunteers, and business owners have organized much-needed support, providing cash, supplies, technology, and other assistance.
The 13th District may not have as many people as the urban centers in and around the Puget Sound, but what we lack in numbers, we make up for in spirit. Small-town people know how to take care of each other — in triumphs and struggles. Although it won't be easy to rebuild, the commitment of Almira residents to doing just that is laudable. It makes me extremely proud to say that I represent this region of the state.
By state law, in a once-every-ten-years exercise, soon after the federal government publishes an updated census, the state's congressional and legislative maps are redrawn. Unfortunately, the bipartisan redistricting commission has failed to meet the state's Nov. 15 deadline to complete the process. The state Supreme Court now has until April 30 to finalize the maps.
In a recent statement, Commission Chair Sarah Augustine, after acknowledging the missed deadline, urged the court to consider the maps already developed by the commission:
“These maps reflect the input of the thousands of people who took part in the process with us. It would be a shame to see these maps go unconsidered simply because the clock struck 12.”
This is the first time since the creation of the bipartisan commission after the 1990 census that they've failed to meet the state's deadline. At this point, it's no understatement to say that the results of the court's decision on these maps will impact Washington state elections for the next ten years.
For more information on redistricting, here are some additional articles:
- In a first, court will decide new WA redistricting plan as commission falters (Crosscut)
- Washington's redistricting commission emerges Tuesday night, post-deadline, with agreement on boundaries. What's next? (Seattle Times)
To view the final commission-approved maps, click here.
Working for you!
The past couple of years have been filled with many unforeseen and difficult challenges. The pandemic has profoundly affected all of us. Along with the obvious public health concerns, there have been economic and school shutdowns, social contact restrictions, and an ever intrusive government telling us how to live our daily lives.
Along with those worries, during the 2021 legislative session, several sweeping policy bills signed into law are now causing difficulties, including a new long-term care payroll tax, the capital gains income tax, and other changes that affect the cost of living for Washington residents, including significantly higher fuel costs.
Even worse, a group of police reform bills is causing public safety issues across the state. The new laws took away several important tools used by law enforcement to de-escalate situations. Many police chiefs and sheriffs have publicly voiced their concerns about the changes, including their ability to pursue fleeing suspects and how to respond to mental health calls.
Countless constituents have contacted my office to share their frustrations about these and other issues. That's why in this update I'm sharing a list of resources and links to information that can give you a behind-the-scenes look at the legislative work being done to address these problems. As always, if you have any questions on the topics listed, call me. I'm always happy to hear from you.
Emergency power reform and COVID-19 resources
- What's being done to reform the governor's emergency powers?
- Republican letters to Gov. Jay Inslee
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and resources
Public policy issues:
- Why police reform bills have made communities less safe
- New long-term care insurance program and payroll tax, including our efforts to repeal this tax and FAQs
- Regressive policies will create more pain at the pump for Washingtonians
- Why breaching our dams would do more harm than good | Salmon and hydroelectric power can co-exist
- New tax increases | 2019-21
2022 Session | How to be a citizen advocate
It's hard to believe the 2022 legislative session is only weeks away. Looking back on the bills approved and signed into law the last few years, and those that failed, has made me keenly aware of the importance of citizen input in the legislative process. Citizen advocacy not only affects legislation — it also keeps the government accountable.
No elected official can do this work alone. Championing the public interest and ensuring state government works for the people, takes tremendous effort. Citizen participation is the key to success. If you are interested in learning how to be a citizen advocate, the links below can help you get started.
- Learn about the process online at the Legislative Overview page;
- Read about How a Bill Becomes a Law, and How to Read a Bill;
- Use the member rosters to get legislative contact information to send emails, or write letters;
- Call the toll-free Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 to leave a message on any issue;
- Make your views known by testifying before a committee on an issue or bill;
- Watch and listen to committee hearings live on TVW;
- Need more information on how the Legislature works? Call the Legislative Information Center at (360) 786-7573.
- Visit my website | Rep. Alex Ybarra
- Sign-up for The Current | The Washington State House Republicans newsletter
- Sign-up for The Capitol Buzz | A daily summary of online news from across the state, highlighting policies, politics, and other issues that affect Washingtonians
- Bookmark The Ledger | A Washington State House Republicans news aggregator
Stay in touch!
Because of certain state restrictions, I will not be sending another email update until the second week of January. If you have questions or concerns about state government-related matters, please contact my office. As always, your feedback is greatly appreciated.
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve and represent you and the great 13th Legislative District.