October 30, 2017
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Rural Jobs Summit brings solutions to the forefront with sold-out event in Moses Lake

Last week's Rural Jobs Summit in Moses Lake was a busy, productive time as a capacity crowd, including nearly two dozen lawmakers, met to exchange ideas and plan ways to bring prosperity to even the most remote parts of Washington.

Speaker of the House Frank Chopp and Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler were among 23 lawmakers and 250 participants at the event. Topics were wide-ranging, covering the need for workforce, the importance of broadband and rural airports, access to capital, and much more.

Olympia Business Watch rounded up the event with this wide-ranging post, "Rural Washington gets its day," as well as a number of other detailed drill-downs about the event, including Alex McGregor's breakfast keynote on "unquenchable optimism and tenacity bordering on stubbornness" of farm families and rural residents, the panel discussion on the importance of fixing the Supreme Court's Hirst and Foster rulings on rural water access, how rural communities can successfully compete for new industry and jobs by lowering risk, and the discussion among the top legislative leaders from both parties and chambers that capped off the busy day.

Opportunity Washington wrote about the Rural Jobs Summit, noting that rural corners of the state continue to have double the jobless rate of the Seattle area, which "shows why action now is important."

TVW has video recordings capturing the broad sweep of the summit:

  • State Agency Panel (Kelly Fukai, regional affairs, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc.; Janéa Eddy, program director and tribal liaison, Community Economic Revitalization Board; Hilary Franz, commissioner of public lands; Dale Peinecke, commissioner, Washington State Employment Security Department)
  • Rural Airports Panel (John Marc Swedburg, chief flight instructor, Big Bend Community College; Rob Hodgman, senior aviation planner, Washington State Department of Transportation; Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake; Ryan H. Sheehan, director of operations and maintenance, Spokane Airports)
  • Housing and Workforce Panel (Jonathan Smith, executive director, Yakima County Development Association; Tim Probst, director of workforce initiatives, Employment Security Department; Roger Bairstow, director, human resources and corporate responsibility, Broetje Orchards)
  • Water and Hirst Panel (Mike Schwisow, owner, Schwisow & Associates; Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake; Matt Bachmann, hydrogeologist, U.S. Geological Survey; Joe Mentor, principal, Mentor Law Group)
  • Lunch keynote: Challenges and Best Practices (Kris Johnson, AWB president; Terry Leas, president, Big Bend Community College; Mark Sweeney, senior principal, McCallum Sweeney Consulting, Inc.; Jeff Sayer, managing partner, Rectify Partners, LLC)
  • Local Governments Panel (Eric Johnson, executive director, Washington State Association of Counties; Soo Ing-Moody, mayor, Town of Twisp; Steve Taylor, city manager, City of Kelso; Vickie Raines, commissioner, Grays Harbor County; Scott Hutsell, commissioner, Lincoln County)
  • Rural Broadband (Monica Babine, senior associate, Program for Digital Initiatives, Washington State University; Betty Buckley, executive director, Washington State Independent Telecommunications Association; Milt Doumit, vice president, Washington state government affairs, Verizon Wireless; Joseph Williams, director, Economic Development for Information and Communication Technology Sector, Department of Commerce)
  • Legislative Leadership Report (Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville; Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline; Speaker of the House Frank Chopp, D-Seattle; House Republican Floor Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm)

Photos from the event are online in this AWB photo gallery.

Contact Mike Ennis, AWB government affairs director for rural issues, to learn more as AWB works with legislative leaders and other stakeholders to help craft a rural legislative agenda for the 2018 session.

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'Hirst Will Shatter the American Dream...'

Call the Legislature back to pass capital budget, fix water-rights ruling

By former Gov. Dan Evans

It's time for Gov. Jay Inslee, together with Republicans and Democrats in both houses of the Legislature, to put partisanship aside and solve two pressing problems. Washington state needs a capital budget and a fix to the state Supreme Court's Hirst decision, which has impacted homebuilding in rural areas.

As construction costs rise, every day that goes by without passage of the state's capital budget means that taxpayers will pay more for building schools and other projects, and it means that needed construction is delayed.

Equally important is modification of the law in response to the Hirst decision. Hirst will shatter the American dream for some Washington state families because they may not be able to obtain water on the properties they purchased unless the Legislature enacts a solution to that decision...

Read the full column in The Seattle Times
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