December 14, 2012
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to correspond with you via email due to election-year restrictions. I’m writing today to bring you up to speed on some important developments in the Washington State Senate and to pass along a video I recently recorded showcasing some of the highlights of our 16th Legislative District.
Thank you for the continued honor of allowing me to serve you. As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback about the topics covered in this update, or whatever is on your mind. If there is anything I can do for you or your family, please let me know.
Sen. Mike Hewitt
Majority Coalition Caucus emerges to lead Senate
As you will recall, towards the end of the 2012 legislative session, a bipartisan group came together in the Senate to pass a balanced budget and some groundbreaking reform bills.
Earlier this week a press conference was held to announce that another bipartisan group has emerged in the Senate (photo at left). The “Majority Coalition Caucus” will lead the Senate in the 2013 legislative session, which begins Jan. 14.
I’m excited about this opportunity to change the tone of politics in our state. Having heard from many people in our 16th District who are tired of the toxic atmosphere that currently exists in politics, I know that this sort of collaborative effort is exactly what folks are seeking from their elected officials.
Next year’s Senate will operate in unprecedented fashion, with control of policy and fiscal committees evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. The committee structure is especially important because that’s the ‘front door’ for ideas in Olympia. When one party has total control of the committees, they can effectively ignore the other party. Sharing power ensures that we’re considering ideas from all ends of the political spectrum and evaluating legislation based on merit.
It’s also important that our government reflects a geographical balance of the state. As we know in Eastern Washington, our priorities are often different from those who live west of the Cascades. The leadership group developed by the coalition ensures that all corners of the state will be well represented in the Senate, both on the committees and in committee chair positions.
The value of this coalition coming together before the session begins is that we’ll be able to hit the ground running on day one with our agenda of crafting a sustainable budget, creating private-sector jobs and improving our education system. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out and will keep you updated with new details as they are available.
My new role
By now, many of you probably know that I have elected to step down from my post as leader of the Senate Republican Caucus. It has been the honor of my life to serve the citizens of the 16th Legislative District and the people of this state in the role since 2005, but the time has come for me to turn over the leadership reins and focus my energies on the citizens of southeast Washington.
I’ve been humbled by all of the messages I’ve received from folks since I made this announcement last month. Thank you for all the kind words and wishes.
Senator Mark Schoesler (pictured speaking in the above photo) has been elected by the Senate Republican Caucus to take over as leader. Mark is a good friend of mine, and I am confident he will serve the caucus and the state well.
Tour the new 16th Legislative District!
In September I had the opportunity to record a video showcasing some of the highlights of our beautiful 16th Legislative District. I think it turned out well and I’d encourage you to watch it and share it with others that may be interested. You can view the video by clicking here or on the picture at left, which is of me and Mike Miller, owner or Airfield Estates Winery in Prosser.
Around the district
It was recently announced that our 16th District will receive several grants and low-interest loans for infrastructure and revitalization projects. This is welcome news as these projects will help bring growth to communities and eventually translate to new jobs.
The City of College Place will receive $400,000 for its College Avenue/Rose Street reconstruction project. The Port of Walla Walla was awarded $400,000 conditional grant for Phase 2 of its Dodd Road Industrial Park improvements. The grants were awarded through a competitive process and must meet the Community Economic & Revitalization Board’s stringent guidelines.
Columbia County was awarded a low-interest loan to improve the energy and water efficiency of a youth building on the County fairground. Once completed, the project is estimated to save 14,290 gallons of water per year, along with 190 million BTU’s of energy.
Mike Hewitt's legislative web site is here. You can sign up for The Eastsider's Report at the SUBSCRIBE link there.