October 23, 2017
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STARTING TONIGHT: We'll see you in Moses Lake for Rural Jobs Summit

Speaker of the House Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, and Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, will join a legislative panel at AWB's Rural Jobs Summit Tuesday at Big Bend Community College. Other legislative leaders on the panel will include Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, and House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish. The event begins with a reception tonight.

AWB’s first Rural Jobs Summit, held earlier this year, generated plenty of ideas about how to reduce the employment disparity between urban and rural Washington. But one point on which everyone agreed was that they wanted to continue working together to support rural Washington, which is far removed from the economic boom of Seattle. Part of that work involves creation of a Rural Caucus in the Legislature, finding a fix to the Hirst water rights issue and reaching consensus on a legislative agenda that helps rural regions realize the economic growth of the central Puget Sound region.

Alex McGregor, president of the century-old McGregor Co., and star of one of this year’s Grow Here commercials, will deliver the keynote address at this event.

McGregor and other featured speakers will focus on solutions to housing, workforce, infrastructure, water, incentives and regulations.

"AWB's Rural Jobs Summit recognizes the uneven recovery in the rural areas," said Mike Ennis, the AWB government affairs director who is helping to facilitate creation of the legislative Rural Caucus and this week's event. "Our program will feature an approach based on meaningful solutions and what we can do to improve the jobs climate in rural areas."

This video has more on the event.

The event is now sold out. Contact Ennis to learn more about the Rural Jobs Summit and AWB's advocacy for all of Washington. Follow the conversation during the event on Twitter at @AWBOlympia and hashtag #RuralJobsWA.

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Rail Keeps Our Economy Rolling

We must keep trains rolling safely and fairly

By Rep. Dick Muri, R-Steilacoom

As a state representative, I've spent quite a bit of time studying and learning about rail safety. It's a subject I take seriously. I live in the Town of Steilacoom, where trains are a way of life.

In fact, the Puget Sound coastline in my district is defined by the rail line. And, it's not just about moving freight. Amtrak will soon transport passengers at a very high speed through Lakewood and DuPont. Rail safety is a big deal for our communities.

In 2014, more than 119 million tons of freight traveled by rail over more than 3,000 miles of rail tracks across the state. This activity supports Washington businesses across a variety of important industries, from lumber to agriculture to oil.

Freight rail is also directly responsible for nearly 4,000 jobs and supports tens of thousands more throughout the state...

Read the full column in The News Tribune
Regulatory Overreach

Ecology's decision harming state's future

By Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen

The Washington Department of Ecology seems determined to oppose any industrial development in Cowlitz County. And the rest of the 19th Legislative District.

About three weeks ago, Ecology issued an opinion denying a water-quality permit sought by Millennium Bulk Terminals (MBT) to complete its coal export facility. Ecology bureaucrats claimed that the project would cause "significant and unavoidable harm" to nine environmental areas: global air quality, vehicle traffic, vessel traffic, rail capacity, rail safety, noise pollution, social and community resources, cultural resources and tribal access to traditional fishing locations near Bonneville Dam.

A few of these factors -- particularly "global air quality" -- are not described in any relevant federal or state law. Rationalizing the unprecedented opinion, Ecology Director Maia Bellon relied on some broad rhetorical strokes...

The Department of Ecology's focus on "global impacts" is a luxury paid for by limiting the prospects for the working people of Cowlitz County. Director Bellon and the other Department of Ecology bureaucrats need to return their focus from global ambitions to local concerns.

Read the full column in The Daily News
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